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Save Me the Waltz

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One of the great literary curios of the 20th century, Save Me the Waltz is the first and only novel by Zelda Fitzgerald. During the years when her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald was working on Tender is the Night—which many critics consider his masterpiece—Zelda Fitzgerald was preparing her own story. The novel strangely parallels events from her husband’s life, throwing a fascinating light on Scott Fitzgerald and his work. In its own right, it is a vivid and moving story—centered upon the confessional of a famous glamour girl of the affluent 1920s and an aspiring ballerina—that captures the spirit of an era.

225 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1932

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About the author

Zelda Fitzgerald

34 books668 followers
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre, was a novelist and the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was an icon of the 1920s—dubbed by her husband "the first American Flapper". After the success of his first novel This Side of Paradise (1920), the Fitzgeralds became celebrities. The newspapers of New York saw them as embodiments of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties: young, rich, beautiful, and energetic.

Zelda Sayre grew up in a wealthy and prim southern family. Even as a child her audacious behavior was the subject of Montgomery gossip. Shortly after finishing high school, she met F. Scott Fitzgerald at a dance. A whirlwind courtship ensued. Though he had professed his infatuation, she continued seeing other men. Despite fights and a prolonged break-up, they married in 1920, and spent the early part of the decade as literary celebrities in New York. Later in the 1920s, they moved to Europe, recast as famous expatriates of the Lost Generation. While Scott received acclaim for The Great Gatsby and his short stories, and the couple socialized with literary luminaries like Ernest Hemingway, their marriage was a tangle of jealousy, resentment and acrimony. Scott used their relationship as material in his novels, even lifting snippets from Zelda's diary and assigning them to his fictional heroines. Seeking an artistic identity of her own, Zelda wrote magazine articles and short stories, and at 27 became obsessed with a career as a ballerina, practicing to exhaustion.

The strain of her tempestuous marriage, Scott's increasing alcoholism, and her growing instability presaged Zelda's admittance to a sanatorium in 1930. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While in a Maryland clinic, she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, which was published in 1932. Scott was furious that she had used material from their life together, though he had done the same, such as in Tender Is the Night, published in 1934; the two novels provide contrasting portrayals of the couple's failing marriage.

Back in America, Scott went to Hollywood where he tried screenwriting and began an affair with the movie columnist Sheilah Graham. In 1936, Zelda entered the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Scott died in Hollywood in 1940, having last seen Zelda a year and a half earlier. She spent her remaining years working on a second novel, which she never completed, and she painted extensively. In 1948, the hospital at which she had been a patient caught fire, causing her death. Interest in the Fitzgeralds resurged shortly after her death: the couple has been the subject of popular books, movies and scholarly attention. After a life as an emblem of the Jazz Age, Roaring Twenties, and Lost Generation, Zelda Fitzgerald posthumously found a new role: after a popular 1970 biography portrayed her as a victim of an overbearing husband, she became a feminist icon.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 435 reviews
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,495 reviews2,378 followers
September 20, 2022

Oh dear. The extravagant lifestyle and tumultuous relationship of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald may be the stuff of legend, but Zelda's novel writing abilities were a million miles away from being legendary. Zelda's one and only novel even makes Scott Fitzgerald's worst novel look good. Considering her state of mind at the time of writing this, I'm surprised she managed to complete a novel at all. To say it's rushed would an understatement, with little character development, and scenes that didn't have a chance to settle in properly, I got the strong feeling that the speed and purpose with which she wrote this indicates it was a story she felt desperately driven to tell. It's also easy to see that it's a work written by a troubled and very unhappy person, as some of the sentences felt like a cry for help. Scott even tried to keep her from writing the novel and was far from impressed when she sent it directly to his publisher. He believed its mixture of fact & fiction would consequently ruin them both. I read this in tandem with Scott and Zelda's love letters (of which I'm about 2/3 of the way through) and can safely say that even just a small handful of those letters left far more of an impression on me than the whole of this novel. The novel plays out heavily with details from Zelda's own life, including the many problems that contributed to her first mental breakdown in 1930, including a dysfunctional marriage, alcoholism, and exhaustion, but at the same time Save Me the Waltz is not an out and out story of the Fitzgeralds’ marriage. Alabama Beggs, the central character, and southern belle daughter of a judge, goes from nothing, to marrying the artist David Knight, to giving birth to her daughter Bonnie, to leading a lavish lifestyle in France, to her studying ballet, in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Sadly her promising career as a ballerina is cut short when she suffers a bad foot infection touring alone in Italy, which eventually leads the family to return to America where they relapse into the dissolute New York social life characteristics similar to that of their early marriage. I have always been fascinated with the lives of Scott and Zelda, and there is no doubt their private lives affected their writings (in Zelda's case about 100% more). It pains me to say it, but when compared to some of the great novels of the 1930's, Save Me the Waltz needed saving from itself.
A massive letdown.
1 review6 followers
December 4, 2013
It often strikes me as absurd to attempt to "rate" literature. Save me the Waltz, for example, is probably not a four-star book. It was, however, a four-star reading experience because I have a fascination with the Fitzgeralds; because it is challenging and fragmented and bizarre; because it makes no sense as a novel and belies the meaning of the genre. Certainly not a read for everyone, but if you have read Tender is the Night, or are at all interested in the lovely Zelda, Save Me the Waltz might be a good one to check out. You can literally see Fitzgerald's mind coming to pieces as the book progresses.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,492 reviews2,730 followers
September 18, 2021
I just finished reading this for the second time (in preparation for a group re-read of Tender is the Night) and this time this jumped up to a 5-star book for me. What makes it is Zelda's unique and luminous prose ('Pastel cupids frolicked amidst the morning-glories and roses in garlands swelled like goiters or some malignant disease', 'Alabama visualised herself suavely swaying to the end of a violin bow, spinning on its silver bobbin, the certain disillusion of the past into uncertain expectancies of the future', 'and the trees wielded by the night over the streets like the feathery fans of acquiescent courtesans') and the distinct feminist sensibilities of modernism as her narrator grows away from her youthful hedonistic marriage and tries to find some kind of identity of her own in the hard work of ballet.

Along the way, scenes and characters are nailed in a few pointed words: on a first trip to Italy 'castles tumbled over the round hills, like crowns awry; nobody sang 'O Sole Mio''; on a socialite, 'the face was as innocent as if she had just been delivered from the taxidermist's'; 'Miss Axton's hair grew on her head like the absent-minded pencil strokes a person makes while telephoning'. And on the marriage at the heart of this book: 'Taking out his knife he carved in the door post: 'David,' the legend read, 'David, David, Knight, Knight, Knight, and Miss Alabama Nobody.'

There's a brief afterword that discusses FSF's ambiguity towards this book: he both rated it and disliked the way it encroached on 'his' material (see original review below) - for me, Zelda's voice is distinct, strong and almost shockingly modern.

'What can I do with myself,' she thought restlessly

When Scott Fitzgerald read this book of Zelda's he found it disturbing for two reasons: that it revealed too much about the intimate workings of their marriage, and that it used material that he considered his own, that was a central part of his Tender is the Night, the book he was still working on when Zelda's own novel was published in 1932. In that sense, this is best read as the other side of the story that Fitzgerald told, not just in Tender, but also in Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned.

Zelda's book is fragmented and difficult to read in parts: the first half draws directly on her life as a Southern 'belle' and the early years of marriage in New York, Paris, the Riviera. It's episodic and it's difficult to know how much sense it would make to someone coming to it without knowing the biographical and fictional backgrounds to the story.

The second half is where Zelda focuses on her own life: her character, Alabama, starts studying ballet seriously, as Zelda herself did, and finds some measure of liberation and self-identity outside of her relationship to Fitzgerald. That this comes at the cost of exhaustion, and an almost masochistic pleasure in pushing her body to its limits is itself immensely telling. As are the tensions that are exposed:

'You're so thin,' said David patronizingly. 'There's no use killing yourself. I hope that you realize that the biggest difference in the world is between the amateur and the professional in the arts.'
'You mean yourself and me - ', she said thoughtfully.

In claiming her right to follow her own desires, to do something meaningful with her life ('Fierce loyalty to her work swelled in Alabama. Why did she need to explain?') Zelda gestures towards her feminist modernity and simultaneously exposes the way Fitzgerald reconstructed her as merely beautiful but vacuous in his female characters: Gloria, Daisy, Nicole. That she was aware of her own ideological stance is made clear when Alabama thinks about her mother: 'She saw her mother as she was, part of a masculine tradition. Millie did not seem to notice her own life'.

Although this is conceived of, and received as, fiction, it clearly draws on, and tells a different story from, the myth that Fitzgerald's novels promulgate. With its interests in non-linear almost poetic storytelling, in a female (and feminist) consciousness especially regarding the struggle to be taken seriously as an artist, this can be usefully shelved next to Virgina Woolf and Sylvia Plath.
Profile Image for Sarah.
536 reviews
June 5, 2009
I found this in a used bookstore around the corner from my apartment.

On the wordy side, but not at all the impenetrable mess people make it out to be. I happen to love dense, elaborate prose. Hers is synesthesiacally brilliant. It's true, the paragraphs are somewhat lacking in rhythm. So much energy went into the individual sentences. But it's one of those books that make me kick my feet with joy and occasionally pause to meditate on a thought or description.

Poor Zelda! Even the cover is dedicated to the work of her husband: "...during the beautiful, damned world of.. the glittering jazz age of THE GREAT GATSBY." She deserves more credit.

[Not the cover displayed here.:]
Profile Image for Bethany.
626 reviews57 followers
November 6, 2011
I very nearly regretted picking up this book when, four lines in, I ran into this humdinger of a sentence:

“Most people hew the battlements of life from compromise, erecting their impregnable keeps from judicious submissions, fabricating their philosophical drawbridges from emotional retractions and scaulding marauders in the boiling oil of sour grapes.”

“Oh snap,” I thought. “I’m never going to get through this.”
Either I grew used to it, or she toned her writing down, but reading Save Me the Waltz was not that difficult. Her prose was perceptive and beautiful more often than it was weighted with its own enigma and/or pretension. Even when her prose was at its densest, I still found it immensely interesting to read and admire the interesting way Zelda viewed the world.

I have to say, my decision to read Nancy Milford’s biography of Zelda first was a good one; Save Me the Waltz would have been a tad disorienting had I not. I did like the book on its own, but reading it as an extension of the Fitzgerald saga made it more enjoyable, and I’m sure less confusing than it would have been.
Profile Image for sfogliarsi.
354 reviews233 followers
March 17, 2022
"Lasciami l'ultimo valzer" è l'unico romanzo che Zelda, la protagonista è Alabama Beggs, una bellissima donna che sposa David, un artista e viaggia per tutta la vita con lui, passando tra l’Europa e l’America conducendo una vita felice vista da fuori, ma infelice vista da dentro.
Alabama non è altro che Zelda, la scrittrice stessa. Infatti questo romanzo risulta essere in gran parte autobiografico, racchiudendo infatti tantissimi episodi della sua vita coniugale, tanti dei quali andranno a costituire molti elementi di "Tenera è la notte" del marito Fitzgerald.
Questo libro mi è piaciuto molto, nonostante l’abbia trovato lento all’inizio.
Profile Image for MihaElla .
228 reviews359 followers
October 19, 2022
It took her a long time to learn to think of life unromantically as a long, continuous exposition of isolated events, to think of one emotional experience as preparation to another.

I certainly got to know Alabama Beggs whose story is told here in Save Me The Waltz , in fact I feel I know her better than I know a lot of my neighbors, because I travelled a journey with her from when I first met her as a precocious good Southern little girl, till her adult years as a wife and mother, too. Naturally, right away I cared what happened to her, hoping for her to experience as much joy of joys. She seemed a normal, uncomplicated little human who was happy to laugh, joke and dance, and especially to dance and get on her a lot of attention, as coming from her family members. I felt that she put too much into everything she did and eventually tired her family members, such her elder sisters, with her begin over-possessive and moody :) But maybe this is the point, quite early on in the story, when I got irrevocably bonded to Alabama, because odd to say, I felt wanting to shake her and tell her to wake up to reality, although life was much different in Southern part…

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.

On one side, I read the book very slowly, not wanting to leave one scene for another and not knowing what was coming next. On the other side, I was astounded to find that I was reading it slowly even though I did know what lay ahead in terms of real events in the life of these two interesting personages, of course if I have in mind the real life living Zelda F. and F.S. Fitzgerald.
IT was just that I wanted to feel the heart of Alabama, sometimes more full than empty, and to brace myself for her doing, that is in others’ opinion, the wrong thing yet again from a mixture of motives. To me, Alabama is one of the memorable characters in fiction, that is because I rather choose to see this novel as a fiction, and not heavily grounded in the life Zelda F co-enjoyed with her husband FSF. As she goes through her journeys, Alabama learns little from all she endures, and in a way, she has ‘improved’ herself a lot at the very end of the book. As time went by, Alabama learned to cope with failure, rejection, also fame and success, though unfortunately only for a short period of time. Eventually, The Waltz was not Saved for her.

Zelda F. resisted the temptation to make Alabama the heroine of a moral tale, learning from her mistakes, conquering all obstacles. Alabama is a complex character doomed to repeat her mistakes and drop herself further into pits of dissatisfaction. And as for the great love affair – marriage as such – of her life, with Mr David Knight…:

Alabama and the lieutenant lingered beside the door.
‘I’m going to lay a tablet to the scene of our first meeting’, he said. Taking out his knife he carved in the door post.
‘David, the legend read, David, David, Knight, Knight, Knight, and Miss Alabama Nobody.’
‘Egotist’, she protested.
‘I love this place’, he said. ‘Let’s sit outside awhile’.
‘Why? The dance only lasts until twelve.’
‘Can’t you trust me for 3 minutes or so?’
‘I do trust you. That’s why I want to go inside.’ She was a little angry about the names. David had told her about how famous he was going to be many times before.

Don’t we all know someone who has headed blindly and determinedly for a relationship so utterly and totally disastrous? Well, it’s as if we can see the mines dotted about the minefield, but still Alabama thinks that she is walking through green grass…

The story of Save Me the Waltz is about a young Southern girl who feels she needs something more in her life, to see things happen on a big scale, so to say. Also, it is about the mismatching of love interests and of people not supposed to find love with each other, as in the novel The Great Gatsby .
I am sad this work is the first and only novel by the wife of F.S. Fitzgerald, to me it feels a very vivid and moving story and I like to believe that Alabama Beggs, aka Zelda Fitzgerald, could have become a very fine ballerina, which captures the spirit of an era, especially of the affluent 1920s…

Profile Image for Jess.
509 reviews120 followers
April 10, 2017
I approached this review with some trepidation. I've been fascinated with the Fitzgeralds, admire FS Fitzgerald's writing, and have been curious to read Zelda's work. Obviously a work of fiction, yet this novel has been surmised to be a reflection of Zelda's view of their courtship and marriage. If you've read the fiction novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald you will be surprised to also see parallels in the storyline. After reading this, I felt mildly deflated.. as if you just discovered someone you admire didn't live up to your expectations. Which is exactly the case for me in reading this novel.
The story of Alabama and David Knight briskly moved at a face face with frenetic energy in some parts. The word selections Zelda uses to tell her story give the appearance she sat with a thesaurus in hand as she wrote. I read a comment that she was attempting an effort to write like James Joyce whom she admired. I wish she wrote like the Zelda I've witnessed in her letters. This felt forced into something it was not. The more I read, the more it seemed like this was a novel on the precipice of being something deeper but it couldn't quite take the plunge. I'm absolutely thrilled I read it; I just wished it was something more.
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books817 followers
December 17, 2021

The 1967 preface says of this novel: “[F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar Henry Dan] Piper points out that the reader who is jarred by the prose at first will find it less turgid beginning about one-third of the way along.” My experience was the opposite. I thought the novel started off wonderfully. Alabama Beggs’s childhood is rendered convincingly and in suitably innocent impressionism. I was reminded of Virginia Woolf at times.

A passage from page 49:

So much of the theoretical youth…had wedged itself beneath the low-hung rafters, that the fire destroying this shrine of wartime nostalgias may have been a case of combustion from emotional saturation. No officer could have visited it three times without falling in love, engaging himself to marry and to populate the countryside with little country clubs exactly like it.

Yes, that first sentence is awkward. It’s the second sentence I like, plus it reminded me of Zelda Fitzgerald’s painting in which opera-goers are represented by black top hats.

I didn’t mark another passage until p. 211 (out of 229) with the description of Alabama in physical pain. Besides its standing on its own merits, it brought to mind a scene in Woolf’s The Voyage Out. Like Woolf, Fitzgerald experienced mental illness and knew how to describe pain.

Sometimes her foot hurt her so terribly that she closed her eyes and floated off on the waves of the afternoon. Invariably she went to the same delirious place. There was a lake there so clear that she could not tell the bottom from the top; a pointed island lay heavy on the waters like an abandoned thunderbolt…The word ‘sick’ effaced itself against the poisonous air and jittered lamely about between the tips of the island and halted on the white road that ran straight through the middle, ‘Sick’ turned and twisted about the narrow ribbon of the highway like a roasting pig on a spit, and woke Alabama gouging at her eyeballs with the prongs of its letters.

The whole middle of the novel is why it took me so long to finish. Between my two quoted passages are too many lengthy similes, attached to the end of almost every sentence, which usually follows a line of sometimes confusing dialogue. While the metaphors disclose an intriguing imagination, there are simply too many of them. This style is used throughout the time the family lives in Europe, the main chunk of the work.

At the end of the novel, back in Alabama’s hometown, with the family ready to take off again, the dialogue turns witty and for a brief time, dare I say, Woolfian, almost The Waves-ish. Despite my reading experience and this low rating, I think I’ll continue to have a soft spot for the book. I certainly have one for Zelda.
Profile Image for n* Dalal.
58 reviews11 followers
February 6, 2010
As I picked up Save Me the Waltz to read it a second time, the dry brittle pages started crumbling under my fingers, the dog-eared corners simply gave up and fell away, leaving me surrounded with tiny flakes of yellow paper.

Though I wanted to read this while also reading Tender Is the Night, it looks like I'll need to do some book rescue before I can read this one. When I first bought this book, it was out-of-print and impossible to find; I got lucky with a cheap paperback at an oblivious bookstore.

Now, it's available everywhere-- but I want to save my old copy; rebind it, make it a unique hardcover. It's just going to take more time than I thought it would...
Well, I've finished re-binding my copy now, and I've given Zelda's novel a second read. It's idiosyncratic, it's bizarre, but it's also occasionally genius. She describes David Knight's (F. Scott's) hair as having the colour of "eighteenth-century moonlight." Breathtaking image. But then she also falls into episodes of parties told so impressionistically, you'd have to stand 3,000 miles away to see the picture she's painting.

The story is her own, the plot follows her life almost exactly. David Knight is an acclaimed painter, not a writer. But other than that-- the story is her life. A Southern girl, maybe a little flirty, charmed off her feet by a handsome young military man with no money, but plenty of ambition. Alabama, Zelda's alter ego in the book, is young, immature, and throws remarks of dustbin-quality philosophy at anyone who crosses her path.

From the beginning, David Knight makes Alabama feel insecure, unsure of her position in his life, carving "David, David, David, Knight, Knight, Knight, and Ms. Alabama Nobody" into a tree while she waits for him to ask her to dance. Though they marry and find fame through David's canvases, she never feels like her family approves of her life, and though she's always been a bit of rebel, she wants to be her father's princess, too. She wants her whims, and to be applauded for them.

The Knights are the toast of New York, they frequent the Riviera when it's still a quiet beach with only one rather lousy hotel. The Knights become American royalty, of a sort. They have a baby, Bonnie, who goes on to be raised by a Nanny, and becomes the snob that rich children deprived of proper parents often do.

Throughout the book, Alabama struggles to create an identity other than just David's wife. Not content with waiting around while he paints, she annoys him; she always wants to go to another party, if only to have something to complain the next day. She ends up in a flirty, poetic affair with an aviator, which ends with Alabama crying and screaming at David, with David jealously threatening to leave her. They fight. Violently.

Eventually, Alabama finds her calling, the one thing she can actually be bothered to do. She takes up ballet, at the age of 28; at this age, after having had a child, the odds are against her even achieving even a modicum of success. Of course, Alabama wants to be the best; she must not only have her whims, her ambitions must be met as well. She works herself to exhaustion, ignoring her literally torn muscles, her blisters, her bruises and infection. She neglects her society friends to practice at studio; she neglects her daughter. Offered a place in an Italian ballet, she leaves David to care for Bonnie, while she desperately tries to carve a name for herself, independent of David's stellar career.

And this is where Alabama and Zelda's life part ways.

For Alabama, her dancing lands her in hospital, fighting against a deathly infection. David and Bonnie fly to her side, and with their love, she survives, though unable to dance ever again. She and David rekindle their friendship and love, and they visit her family home to say a last goodbye to her beloved father before he expires. The family re-united in the peaceful South she knows and trusts.

For Zelda, this obsession with ballet was an early indication of later mental instability. Her fights and competition with F. Scott were signs of a marriage under too much strain. Scott's drinking led to alcoholism and indifference. After her dancing nearly broke her, Zelda was admitted to various asylums; she wrote this book in one after a breakdown caused by her father's death. And finally, she died in a fire at yet another.

In Save Me The Waltz, Zelda clearly feels that she is financially dependent on Scott; when she leaves him to study ballet, she realises David bought her all the clothes she owns, and now that she can't afford to buy anything, she'll just have to wear these clothes out. She lives in his extraordinary shadow, but still he jealously keeps her from being extraordinary in her own way. He wonders aloud if she knows that she's much too old to be any good at ballet. Interestingly, in Tender Is The Night (F. Scott's own thinly veiled novelisation of his marriage to Zelda), it's Dick Divers' dependence on his rich wife's money that destroys his ambitions, keeps him from developing into the promising talent he was meant to be. They find in each other the excuses they need to explain their lives.

Scott had plenty of friends to call Zelda crazy and jealous. Hemingway accused her of intentionally trying to sabotage Scott's work, accused her of trying to take him down, compete with him. But without her, Scott couldn't have written the way he did. The relationships in his most masterful pieces are his marriage, the women are Zelda. In Gatsby, Daisy's famous line (where she says she hopes her baby is born a beautiful fool) was taken directly from Zelda's mouth. And though Zelda and Scott both present Scott as the solid one in their books, he wasn't so innocent of cruelty toward her, as well. When her doctors told him that publishing Save Me the Waltz would be good for Zelda, he kept her from using stories from their life that he had intended to use in Tender is the Night. Zelda's alter-ego in Tender... is Nicole Diver, the model of the beautiful, crazy girl, whose vulnerability attracts and repels Dick.

It's easy to imagine Zelda this way, as an over-anxious, hysterical, self-important woman who didn't know how to stop being the centre of attention, even if it took acting wild, partying hard, and sabotaging her husband. It's far too easy to see F. Scott as the withered hero of American letters, slowly driven to perilous drink by a jealous, unstable woman. But it's too simple to look at things that way.

Because Zelda can write, in moments of brilliant lucidity. Because Scott needed her to write the way he did. Because they are American royalty, glamourous and spectacular. And because being American royalty demands one thing: an equally spectacular crash and a glamourous slow burn.

Profile Image for Laura.
6,911 reviews565 followers
July 1, 2017
This is the first and only book written by Zelda Zayre, aka Zelda Fitzgerald.

The plot is quite autobiographical even if it's a piece of fiction. The main character, Alabama is a portrait of a wife of a famous artist who struggles to live her own life in the shadow of the success a famous husband. Sometimes, she is quite obsessive in becoming a dancer even if she was not young any longer.

One feels that Zelda wrote this book as an auto-therapeutic way out in order to surpass her mental issues (she was diagnosed with schizophrenia). She lived in a mental hospital and died in an accidental fire in 1947, seven years after Scott's death.

Perhaps it's a good time to re-read "Tender is the night", published in 1934, where Zelda appears as Nicole.

There are other similar books on this subject, such as The Journey Down by Aline Bernstein (over her relationship with Thomas Wolfe); and A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren by Simone de Beauvoir . To be checked.
Profile Image for Robert Strandquist.
136 reviews7 followers
April 28, 2013
Why five stars for such an unevenly written novel? Despite her over use of similes, Zelda's writing sizzles with dazzling descriptions. I'm convinced that she either wrote or edited the first party scene in "Gatsby" because that same cadence of phrasing in those long sentences that crescendo to delirious heights appear throughout "Save Me the Waltz." Another bias that supports five stars rests in my sympathy for Zelda's protagonist, Alabama. When her manic swings are on the rise, her aesthetics are sublime. She's magnetic. Her passionate expressions for natural beauty are on par with some found in Wordsworth and Keats. And, her observations about society are on par with those by Wilde, although less satiric. As a narrative structure we're witness to her unwavering worship of her father that both occupies the novel's exposition and denouement. Between these poles, Alabama searches for the gossamer lining in life's travails. Her marriage to David, the painter is a harmony of art, friends and travel. Despite their harmony, she withers in the growing shadow of her husband's popularity which motivates her to break out on her own, not for spite but for aesthetic development as ballet dancer. She succeeds both in her devoted discipline to her art and in her stage presence. However, she falls pitifully due to no character flaw, no jealous villain, but a simple physical injury that prevents her from dancing. She emerges to resume her role as loyal wife and caring mother.
The book's introduction aptly calls this novel a "literary curio." I agree. Yet unlike most curios it is worth taking down from the shelf, where it has rested since 1932.
Profile Image for Ahmed.
910 reviews7,452 followers
August 27, 2018
شاركني هذا الفالس.....زيلدا فيتزجيرالد

هي صرخة امرأة عانت الكثير في حياتها، امرأة وصلت لأعلى درجات المجد والشهرة، ولكنها دفعت الثمن، دفعته من قواها وصحتها وعقلها، امرأة لم تقدر على الخروج من ثياب زوجها...إنها قصة زيلدا.

هذه الرواية كانت العلاج، حصيلة ست أسابيع من الكتابة بناء على نصيحة الطبيب النفسي الخاص لزيلدا، التي عاشت في ظل زوجها النجم سكوت، صاحب غاتسبي العظيم، والذي كانت زوجته ملهمته الخاصة، أو لنقل حقل تجاربه الادبي، فإن أراد إثارة اعجابها كتب لها، وان اراد تصوير امرأة مدهشة، صوّرها هي كشخصية مكتوبة واستلهمها.

رواية متعبة مجهدة عن حقبة غامضة وحياة اكثر غموضا، قصة فتاة مدللة، أرادت أن تمتلك الحياة فتملكتها حياتها.

سترى مدن تعرفها ولا كأنك تعرفها، وستجد شخصيات تعرفها ومررت بها، كل المطلوب منك عند قراءة هذا العمل هو الصبر عليه والتأني، لأن ما بين سطورها أضعاف ظاهر سطورها.

الرواية فيها روح انثى طاغية، وغالب الظن أن كل امرأة موهوبة أهدرت موهبتها لأي سبب كان ستجد نفسها في هذا العمل.

رواية جيدة مرهقة جميلة، والأهم انها مفيدة جدا، لأنها تشرح لنا الكثير من خفايا النفس.
Profile Image for Onur Yeats.
179 reviews12 followers
September 19, 2019
Dünyanın en ünlü edebi çiftlerden biri olan Zelda ve F. Scott Fitzgerald’ın hayatı ve evliliğinden izler taşıyan otobiyografik özelliğe sahip, bir roman à clef örneği olan Son Valsi Bana Sakla beni çok şaşırttı çünkü kitabın ağır eleştiriler alması okuma öncesi beklentimi düşürmüştü. Kitap bittiğinde beni tam tersine hem edebi olarak tatmin etti hem de bu ünlü çift hakkında biraz daha bilgi edinmekten hoşnut kaldım. Kitap, Zelda’nın kendisine paralel olarak yarattığı Alabama karakterinin “kendi hayatının dizginlerini ele alma mücadelesini” anlatıyor. Bu yönden bakılırsa aslında kitap feminist izlerde taşıyor. 1920’ler Amerikasını bilirsiniz; Caz Çağı, flapperlar ortaya çıkmıştır, kadınlar artık daha özgürdürler, istedikleri gibi giyinebilirler, kadın-erkek ilişkileri daha özgür yaşanır, partiler, Kayıp Kuşak, aşırı tüketim, gösteriş, alkol kullanımı… Tüm bunlar insanların hayatını büyük ölçüde değiştirmiştir. Alabama da döneme ayak uydurmuştur başlarda ama büyüdükçe hayatı sorgulamaya başlar ve hayatındaki bazı taşları değiştirmeye başlar. Baleye olan merakı sayesinde baleye başlar ve başarılı olur. İnsanın istediğinde her şeyi başarabileceğine olan inancı artmıştır. Zelda’nın dili çok hareketli, aynı zamanda süslü ama akıcılığından bir şey kaybetmemiş. Keşke daha fazla roman yazsaydı ve eşi kadar başarılı olabilseydi diye düşünmeden edemedim.
Profile Image for Steven R. Kraaijeveld.
502 reviews1,766 followers
December 24, 2015
Zelda wrote Save Me the Waltz, her first and only novel, during the six weeks that she spent in a sanatorium in 1932. It draws on many of the same experiences that would go into her husband Scott's Tender is the Night (which, incidentally, is probably my favorite of his novels). Apparently, the novel was originally much more vehement than the final, edited version suggests (Zelda resisted, but finally caved in and let Scott and Maxwell Perkins edit some of its more critical notes). It begins roughly, stylistically speaking. For example, on the first page, right after the start of the second paragraph, you find this sentence:
Most people hew the battlements of life from compromise, erecting their impregnable keeps from judicious submissions, fabricating their philosophical drawbridges from emotional retractions and scaulding marauders in the boiling oil of sour grapes.
Which, I think is safe to say, does not flow smoothly. The beginning of the novel has (too) many of these overwritten lines, which sometimes feel as if a thesaurus was put to zealous use. In the introduction, Harry T. Moore writes that "the reader who is jarred by the prose at first will find it less turgid beginning about one-third of the way along" and, thankfully, this is true. The novel picks up about about a third of the way in, both in terms of the writing and as a story. While I can't honestly say that the novel is great, there are certainly moments when the metaphors Zelda uses (when she does not overuse them) startle and resonate; and her charm shines all the way through, giving the reader a glimpse into her mind, her life, and her relationship with her husband. So overall, despite what might be called technical weaknesses, the novel was definitely worth reading. To compare it to her husband's work is, I think, unfair - at least in terms of literary quality. However, as far as Zelda's experiences and her expression of those experiences go, they are as valuable as Scott's.
Profile Image for Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition.
604 reviews84 followers
January 20, 2016
I think that Zelda Fitzgerald wrote this book as a reaction to F Scott Fitzgerald using their lives and anecdotes as a basis for many of his books. She was a frustrated ballerina and made her protagonist become the star of a ballet troupe in Naples, Italy, where she was asked to join, but was not allowed to accept, by her husband. I felt the book was well written and her explanation of various horrible things that aspiring ballerinas endure was enlightening. It also illuminated her spiral into mental illness, and the sad decay of their marriage, as she got further and further obsessed about being a ballerina.
Profile Image for Zoe Crosher.
15 reviews16 followers
Currently reading
June 12, 2008
Curious as to what the mysterious and haunted figure of Zelda had to say for herself. Have just gotten through the intro, but am a bit mortified by Harry T. Moore of Illinois State University's statement that "Obviously, Save Me The Waltz is not at this height of achievement. Yet it deserves to be read as something more than a mere commentary on or analogue of Tender is the Night...this book may lack the finished craftsmanship of Fitzgerald's work, but Save Me the Waltz has a current of life running through it. It can be read for its own sake." Thanks, Harry. No wonder she went crazy.
Profile Image for Kardelen Damla Başaran.
170 reviews54 followers
December 17, 2019
Zelda’nın kendisi kadar uçarı ve estetik bir kitap. Alabama ise biraz gıcık bir karakter. Baskıcı bir baba ve kendinden daha güzel, sürekli kıyaslandığı iki ablayla yaşıyor, annesini memnun edemiyor ve belki de biraz bu yüzden başlarda asla kendi gibi olamıyor. Alabama biraz ‘flörtöz’. Ergenliği ablalarının sevgilileri ve subaylarla flört etmeyle geçiyor ve sonunda o subaylardan biriyle evleniyor. Ailesinin yanından taşınıyor, büyüyor, yaşıyor ve değişiyor. Alabama bana ilham veriyor. Bir süredir hiçbir şeyin veremediği kadar.

“Bedenimiz bize ruhumuzun tersi bir etki olsun diye mi verilmiş, bunu sen anlatabilirsin bana. Sen anlatabilirsin ancak, bedenimiz çöküp düştüğünde eziyet çeken zihnimizden nasıl kurtulabileceğimizi; ve bedenimiz eziyet görürken ruhumuzun bizi neden ve nasıl bir mülteci gibi bırakıp gitmeyeceğini? Neden yıllarca zihinlerimizi deneyimle beslemek için bedenimizi tüketiyor, sonra da teselli için zihnimizi tekrar tükenmiş bedenlerimize dönmüş buluyoruz? Neden, babacığım?”
Profile Image for Freckles.
464 reviews178 followers
November 14, 2019
Zeldo, Zeldo, Zeldo… Když se řekne Zelda Fitzgerald, pravděpodobně vám naskočí, že se jednalo o manželku spisovatele F. S. Fitzgeralda, a pokud o ní víte i něco víc, tak možná, že byla hrozně krásná, ikona dvacátých let a trpěla schizofrenií. Ale Zelda byla mnohem víc než jen ozdobným přívěskem svého manžela, byla i malířkou, tanečnicí a spisovatelkou. Ve třicátých letech, v době, kdy Fitzgerald bojoval se psaním románu Tender is the Night, Zelda v sanatoriu za pouhé dva měsíce napsala autobiografický román Save Me the Waltz, který čerpá ze stejného materiálu jako Něžná je noc, a poslala jej bez manželova vědomí nakladateli. Román, který téměř devadesát let po prvním vydání konečně mohou číst i čeští čtenáři.

„Ty vážně žiješ v iluzi, že ti to někdy aspoň nepatrně půjde?“
„Nejspíš nepůjde, ale když to nezkusím, nikdy se to nedozvím.“
(s. 144)

Ve své době měla kniha pramalý úspěch a ani v dnešní době to není stálicí literárního kánonu. Ale přece… Jak je možné, že až teď? Důvodů je asi hned několik. Zaprvé loni uplynulo sedmdesát let od Zeldiny smrti, což znamená, že práva na její dílo jsou odteď volná. Shodou okolností tak od letošního roku bude k dispozici ne jeden, ale hned dva různé překlady. V únoru vydalo nakladatelství Leda překlad Kateřiny Klabanové pod názvem Věnujte mi valčík a na začátku září vyjde v Knize Zlín překlad Lucie Mikolajkové s názvem Poslední valčík je můj. Tato skutečnost nepochybně vybízí ke srovnávání obou překladů, ale do toho já se teď pouštět nechci, protože jsem četla jen druhý zmiňovaný (z něj pocházejí zde citované pasáže) a z prvního jsem pouze slyšela úryvky. Nemohu si ovšem odpustit následující poznámku: při čtení jsem nahlížela do originálu a je to jeden z nejneprostupnějších textů, jaké jsem kdy viděla, tudíž si ocenění zaslouží nejen obě překladatelky, i kdyby už jen za to, že se do toho pustily (já bych to dělat nechtěla), ale taky oba redaktoři.

„Člověk jen sedí a čeká na nevyhnutelné, jenomže to je to jediné, co se nakonec nestane.“ (s. 117)

Autor je možná mrtev, ale v případě některých knih se jeho jméno skloňuje víc než jméno protagonistů. Valčík v podstatě zrcadlí životní osud svojí autorky: její hrdinka Alabama je nevázaná jižanská kráska, která se zamiluje do vojáka Davida, za kterého se vdává teprve tehdy, když David dosáhne prvotního úspěchu – v případě románové verze to ovšem není psaní, ale malba. Pár žije bouřlivým životem v New Yorku, později přesídlí i s malou dcerkou do Paříže a na francouzskou Riviéru, kde jejich dokonalý život začíná získávat trhliny…

Alabama vířila dokola, jako když nacvičuje krasopis, až vykroužila linii skrze všechny kruhy světla. (s. 189)

Zajímá vás hlavně Zelda? Pak si možná přečtěte raději knihy o ní (v českém překladu vyšly třeba románové biografie Z jako Zelda nebo Alabama song), protože Valčík je kniha, která svému čtenáři absolutně nic nedaruje, takže spíš pro vážnější zájemce. Nutno také podotknout, že konečná verze románu je po Fitzgeraldově „úpravě“, tudíž například Alabamin David z něj vyznívá jako mnohem kladnější postava, než byl Zeldin muž. Pokud tedy vezmete do ruky Valčík, můžete se soustředit na jiné kvality onoho románu – protože nesmíme zapomínat, že tím kniha v konečném důsledku je, románem, a nikoli svědectvím o životě Fitzgeraldových, přestože si jde jedno od druhého odmyslet jen těžko.

Z chodníku pod oknem se nesly kroky, jako vzácná vřelá vzpomínka. Noci jako by vypadly z klasické literatury; jen tu a tam se v dohledu objevil náznak lidské postavy, přízračný výrůstek šťastného života; léto probodávaly ostny kaktusů a v otevřených člunech na hladině se jako střípky slídy třpytily rybí hřbety. (s. 189)

Jak už jsem zmiňovala, Zelda byla malířkou – a její malířské vidění je za mě hlavní devízou Valčíku. Stránky jsou prošpikované barvitými popisy měst, interiérů a hlavně přírody. Přemýšlím, jestli jsem někdy četla nějakou jinou knihu, která by byla tak rozkvetlá. Neustále jsem měla pocit, že popisované scenérie vidím přímo před sebou. Není to zrovna epické čtení, to uznávám, ale právě tyhle až impresionistické popisy a neotřelá přirovnání mě na knize tak bavily. Zároveň je tohle myslím ten druhý důvod, proč se kniha překladu (překladů) dočkala až nyní: v knize je užito opravdu hodně bohaté slovní zásoby, takže je fakt děsně těžká nejen pro překladatele, ale nároky klade i na pozornost svého čtenáře. Kromě komplikovaného jazyka mu hází klacky pod nohy i narativní strukturou se svými mnohdy neznačenými střihy mezi jednotlivými scénami, absurdními až surreálními útržky konverzací a nejasnou hranicí mezi představami a realitou. Ale když na to máte náladu a proniknete do toho… tak to stojí za to.

Myšlenky se jí v tom sebezpytném zahloubání plížily hlavou jako leopardi za mřížemi zoologické zahrady. Jak se neustále bičovala prací, měla tělo tak nabité statickým praskáním, že nedokázala sama se sebou navázat spojení. Říkala si, že člověk jednoduše nemá právo selhat. Nevnímala, co vlastně selhání znamená. […]
Zničehonic se zasmála a zkusmo zabrnkala na struny svého ducha, jako když se ladí klavír.
(s. 194)

Loni v létě jsem strávila několik dnů s Fitzgeraldovými „ztracenými“ povídkami. Letos jsem léto zahájila s románem jeho manželky a nemůžu se zbavit dojmu, že mi je kombinace léto + Fitzgeraldové tak nějak souzena. Horké letní dny, kdy vzduch voní posečenou trávou a kvetoucími lípami, a k tomu popis jiných barev, vůní a okamžiků, které by byly dávno ztraceny v proudu času, nebýt toho, že je někdo zanesl na papír. Bavilo mě to? Ano. Bude to bavit každého? Rozhodně ne. Ale pokud máte odvahu, pusťte se do toho.
Profile Image for Nigeyb.
1,244 reviews282 followers
May 23, 2013
I gave up reading after 140 pages. This book really isn't my cup of tea. I am surprised and disappointed as I love both The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night, and so was looking forward to reading Zelda Fitzgerald's perspective on some of the events that inspired Tender Is the Night.

Quite a few reviews I glanced at, before starting the book, suggested that this was more than a literary footnote, and was a good book in its own right. I disagree. It's overwritten, confused and vainly strives for profundity. I find it hard to imagine this book would have been published were it not for the F. Scott Fitzgerald connection.

The book is probably of greatest interest to people who have the time and the inclination to compare and contrast this book and "Tender Is The Night", and in particular the Riviera scenes. Although, that said, there are plenty of people who seem to find something more in this book.

Here's a couple of examples of the writing style:

"The swing creaks on Austin's porch, a luminous beetle swings ferociously over the clematis, insects swarm to the golden holocaust of the hall light. Shadows brush the Southern night like heavy, impregnated mops soaking its oblivion back to the black heat whence it evolved. Melancholic moon-vines trail dark, absorbent pads over the string trellises." p. 3

"A growing feeling of alarm in Alabama for their relationship had tightened itself to a set determination to get on with her work. Pulling the skeleton of herself over a loom of attitude and arabesque she tried to weave the strength of her father and the young beauty of her first love with David." p. 133

If that style is to your taste then perhaps you might enjoy this book. I found it hard going and tedious.

Profile Image for Val.
2,425 reviews79 followers
June 3, 2016
I hope Zelda Fitzgerald found that writing this book was a valuable and rewarding experience; I can't say that I found reading it was.

Several reviewers have mentioned that Zelda's style is verbose and convoluted, but she does use several styles in the book and the rampant verbosity becomes less prevalent as the story progresses. The overblown metaphors and strings of similes are the style and voice of a pretentious, self-obsessed, romantically inclined teenager. It is a style for readers who have a lot of idle leisure time to fill. It suits her protagonist, but is not a pleasure for me to read unless extremely well done or when the substance of the novel is sufficiently interesting for me to overlook it. The teenage Alabama Beggs is of little interest to anyone but herself.

For the older Alabama Knight she uses a style closer to the sparse, staccato precision of her husband and contemporaries, full of sparkling, inconsequential, contrived conversations, the voice of the 'now' generation. The verbosity sometimes breaks through to show that the heedless teenager is still there within the adult wife and mother. Alabama is living her dream of having fun and lots of parties, a loving marriage, money to buy anything she wants, servants to look after the practicalities of child-rearing and house-keeping, living for the day and ignoring the consequences. The Knight's financial position is far from secure; David is well paid for his paintings and frescos, but when each payment is spent there is no more money until the next commission and he sometimes has to borrow money from his dealer or Alabama from her parents. David sometimes worries about this, while Alabama ignores it. Neither of them consider financial planning. This section is more interesting, in part because it mirrors the story of Scott and Zelda's own marriage.

We do not get a great insight into why Alabama embarked on an affair with a French airman and destroyed this idyll. Was she in love? Was she simply bored? Did she need to feel that she could still attract men now she was a married mother? The effect on the Knight's marriage is of more importance than the actual affair. David’s revenge flirtation or possible one-night-stand are described in cruder terms, lacking any romance and is of even less importance.

In the next section of the book the prose is tortured and tortuous, reflecting Alabama's mental anguish and the fractured, fractious state of the Knight's marriage. It is hard work to read, but again the style is, I think, deliberate. The irritating bits of psycho-babble are probably regurgitated bits from Zelda's psychological counselling. The portentousness is just irritating.

Alabama decides to become a famous ballet dancer. This is a vain ambition; everyone who knows anything about dancing tells she is already too old and she has had a child. However, the routine of classes and practice give some structure to her life, channel her energy and stop the rather frantic drinking and party-going. The exacting physical exercise of ballet may also be a way of punishing herself for her former self-indulgence. She makes friends with some of the dancers. The writing becomes more coherent.

She does have some success once she scales down her ambition and she secures a place with an Italian troupe for three performances. Zelda herself was offered a similar place, but chose not to take it up. Perhaps this is how she imagined it turning out. It is an anti-climatic episode, although with inner drama.

What works in this book?
Zelda obviously understands writing style. She adapts her writing to the stages of her characters life. This works as an exercise in creative writing. The story is too slight and the style too heavy for it to work as a novel.

Does it give an insight into Zelda?
The story is autobiographical, so this is how Zelda sees herself. Scott created a mythological Zelda in all his glittering, fragile butterfly heroines. Zelda does not see herself as fragile or as having more than surface glitter. She is quite hard on herself, portraying her alter-ego as a self-indulgent, selfish woman who does nothing with her life until it is almost too late and who is entirely responsible for the problems in her marriage. She focuses on her failure as a ballerina, rather than her moderate success as a painter and writer. This is the de-mythologising of Zelda by Zelda.

What does it say about Scott?
Scott complained that David Knight was a nonentity and disliked the character. He is not a nonentity, he is a talented successful artist, but the talent and success are in the background of the story. In the foreground is a loving, caring, deeply hurt husband, doing his best for his wife and child. It is a kind depiction and a somewhat apologetic one; the real Scott was probably just as self-obsessed and self-indulgent as the real Zelda.

What did Zelda gain from writing this book?
She did not gain literary success; the book was not well received. It has survived mainly due to who she was married to and as a companion piece to “Tender is the Night”, not on its own merits; it is described as a ‘literary curio’. It may have been valuable therapy. Zelda wrote out her troubled relationship with her overbearing father and her equally troubled marriage, the catharsis may have been helpful to her.

Should it have been written? Yes

Should it have been published? No, but the manuscript should have been preserved for those obsessed with the real Fitzgeralds.
Profile Image for Leslie-ann.
60 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2010
I am not sure it is fair to classify this as a "literary curio"--it goes beyond that in many ways. It is a tangle of madness, misery, and even general misanthropy, but it is also tinged with love, admiration, and moments of lucidity.

Had this been properly revised, I think it could have been quite a masterpiece. Zelda has this remarkable way with words (half of the lines in the book will require you to read them two or three times over) even though some of her phrasing in somewhat incomprehensible.

To say this is a product of madness is wrong and misguided. This is a fictional memoir of a woman who hurt, was misguided, and was terribly lonely. Although is infuriating at parts, its sentimentality keeps its reader engrossed--it properly observes a time period through the looking glass of an individual life.

I wouldn't read this if you want an easy, relaxing read, but it is worth a read if you want to be engaged in lyrical prose, lost in your own thoughts, or to examine a tremendous women who was, ultimately, made immortal by her husband.
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews502 followers
August 31, 2008
Southern belle, Alabama Beggs, is the youngest daughter of a prominent judge and unlike her two older sisters from her endearing wit to her attitude towards life. She meets David Knight during his visit to the South during World War I; they marry and ultimately move to live in the Riviera. David, an artist, carries on an affair with an actress, a relationship of which Alabama is aware. In her desperate attempts to salvage the marriage she throws herself into learning ballet, an exceptionally difficult feat of a 28-year-old like herself. They return to the States with their daughter, Bonnie, to visit the death bed of the Judge, ending the story essentially where it began.

This mostly autobiographical book was written during Zelda's first psychiatric clinic stay as part of her recovery program. When her husband, the better known F. Scott Fitzgerald, read the intial draft he insisted Zelda change several details - he felt the story was not particularly kind to his image and "stole" from his own writing. After the changes were made the book was finally published, though modestly. It did not take off like her husband's writing which only exacerbated her hysteria. It now is considered more of a cult classic, worth a read to see how the other half of the Fitzgerald's saw the same events as Scott and how they affected her. It's heartbreaking in a way to know Zelda's story and to then read her book and realize she had great potential that was obviously stifled much more than it should have been.
Profile Image for Susy.
799 reviews142 followers
October 7, 2017
1.5 stars
Thank God I finally finished this book. The background story sounded very interesting but Zelda's writing style is just not for me. I don't like elaborate prose, and if you can say something about Zelda's writing it's that it is very elaborate. She uses elaborate comparisons which often didn't make any sense to me (but maybe that's because I just don't like that kind of writing) and she uses them a lot, sometimes even two or three in one sentence. I felt that in the later parts of the book she started using them even more and more and I found myself getting really annoyed with that (or maybe it just seemed like she was using more and more elaborate comparisons because I was feeling quite irritated when I encountered another one). Also I was expecting to read (and feel) more about her mental breakdown and how all her life experiences accumulated to that. But I just didn't feel it. Neither did I at any point feel a connection to Alabama/Zelda. Still I give it a 2-star rating instead of 1 star because I do like the idea that writing her story and getting it published served as a kind of therapeutic experience for Zelda. Also sad to know that she died such a tragic death and at such a young age.
Profile Image for Algie.
23 reviews
September 13, 2012
Poor thing.

Poor, poor thing.

Zelda had such a wonderfully, dismally, perfectly sad life, that was absolutely filled with her optimistic outlook and biting wit. I loved the part of her childhood, where she was so conniving and so intent on catching everyone out. She was not just a literary curio, she was a literary Queen. Heralded only as the wife of Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda deserves far more a substantial place on the pantheon.

It was, however, a trial to read at times. Her words flow slightly clunkier than Scott's, and with slightly less of a refined tone, but Zelda writes with such a raw passion. She is honest, and her words are pure. Zelda is simply a beautiful woman, with beautiful thoughts, transmitting them in beautiful words.

Poor, poor thing.

Poor thing.
Profile Image for Michael.
837 reviews615 followers
March 15, 2015
Save Me the Waltz is the story of Alabama Beggs, a young Southern girl who meets and falls in love with David Knight during World War I. The two inevitably get married and David goes on to become a successful painter, before moving their family to the French Riviera. However Alabama is determined to find her own success and takes up ballet. When she lands her first solo debut in the opera Faust the cracks in their marriage become evident.

After an episode of hysteria in 1932, Zelda Fitzgerald was admitted to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment. Dr Adolf Meyer, an expert on schizophrenia was her doctor and as part of her recovery routine he got her to write at least two hours a day. Save Me the Waltz was written over the course of six weeks and was the first and only novel to be published by Zelda Fitzgerald. Her husband was outraged that she took so much of their personal life and added it into this novel. Despite the fact that the majority of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels are also autobiographical and he used the same material for his novel Tender is the Night.

I wanted to read Save Me the Waltz after reading Tender is the Night to compare the similarities. The problem I soon discovered is that Save Me the Waltz has possibly been whitewashed by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Apparently he helped Zelda revise her book and the amount that has been changed is unknown because her original manuscript has been lost. However Scott went from being irate to writing to Maxwell Perkins at Scribner (their publisher) “Here is Zelda’s novel. It is a good novel now, perhaps a very good novel—I am too close to tell.” I am inclined to believe that he has made sure he comes across better than originally written but without the original that is purely speculation.

The major theme within Save Me the Waltz is around the intense desire for Alabama/Zelda to succeed for themselves. It was not enough for either person to be the wife behind a successful man, and it explores the problems faced in doing this in a male dominated society. When Alabama gets her dream job in Naples with the San Carlo Opera Ballet Company, David does not want to move. Considering that he is a painter and could really work from anywhere, it says a lot about their marriage. This does not hinder Alabama from perusing her dreams and she goes to Naples anyway, leaving her husband to look after their child alone. Now this move may make people uneasy but it really plays with the power dynamic of marriage. Zelda Fitzgerald wants to challenge the conceptions people had of the role of a wife in a marriage and ask why it was alright for a man to go away for work but not the woman.

This can be a very difficult novel to read, knowing the historical context and history behind the story. Comparing this book with Tender is the Night does not leave F. Scott Fitzgerald in pleasant light but then again his novel did not do that either. One of the most powerful lines in this novel can be found right near the end and it beautifully wraps up the whole book into a few lines. “Emptying the ashtrays was very expressive of myself. I just lump everything in a great heap which I have labelled ‘the past,’ and having thus emptied this deep reservoir that was once myself, I am ready to continue.”

While I cannot say that Save Me the Waltz is a strong novel, it was a fascinating exploration into the lives of the Fitzgeralds. I am glad to have read and compared this book to Tender is the Night but I think it has only fuelled my interest into this couple. I still need to read a biography or two on the Fitzgeralds but I am beginning to get a better idea of their lives. I think if you are going to read Tender is the Night, you need to read Save Me the Waltz so you can have perspective on the autobiographical elements; even if they were tainted by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s edits.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/...
Profile Image for Cara (Wilde Book Garden).
1,138 reviews64 followers
September 1, 2021
1.75 stars?

F. Scott Fitzgerald is still The Worst, and I still can't stand The Great Gatsby, and I still have so much sympathy for Zelda, but sadly I could not stand her novel.

5% beautiful/clever lines and meaningful scenes, 95% word salad. Of the "I understand all these words separately" variety.

CW: Racism, grief, exercise to the point of self-harm, dieting, fat-shaming, cheating
Profile Image for Emma Holtrust.
294 reviews23 followers
February 19, 2016
Review originally posted on The Beauty of Literature

Those of you that follow me on Tumblr will know that I have been obsessed with The Lost Generation authors. In the never ending search of a thesis topic, I have now decided to focus on them and first up is Zelda Fitzgerald - a woman I've read so much about, but never read what she wrote. And thankfully I decided to change that.

Save Me the Waltz is the mostly autobiographical story of Zelda, represented by the main character Alabama, from her childhood until her father passes away, and focuses mostly on her marriage with David Knight. David is a successful painter and when the couple moves to Paris, Alabama tries to find her own creativity in a world controlled by men. She starts ballet at 27, just like Zelda did, and describes beautifully the agony and release she finds in this.

While this book is often read as a companion novel to Fitzgerald's work, mostly Tender is the Night, this discredits the creativity that can be found in Save Me the Waltz. While it does focus on the relationship between Zelda and Scott, and there are some clear parallels in events that happened in the book and in their real lives, the book mainly focuses on Alabama's struggle to find herself in a male oriented world. While in New York, she has nothing to do and aimlessly, and unhappily, wanders after her husband. In Paris, she discovers ballet and throws herself into it, even though her body cannot really handle the work.

This is where Zelda's fiction truly shines. My edition of the book followed the original manuscript which was filled with grammatical errors and words put in places that don't make any sense. Though this might bother some readers, it gave me the feel of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and helped me relate to the main character. We are thrown into a world we cannot fully grasp, no matter how often we read a sentence or even the whole book, just like Alabama is navigating a world she'll never grasp. The descriptions are beautiful though and it was so easy to feel the pain from all the ballet training. All the female characters, who are only properly introduced once Alabama enters the female world of dancing, are realistic and well-rounded and all struggle with finding their way in post war Paris.

Save Me the Waltz can be a confusing read and you might have to give yourself a few pages to get into, but it is also one of the most beautiful and gripping books I've ever read. It made me ache for Zelda Fitzgerald's talent; if she can produce a novel like this in just six weeks while admitted in a mental hospital, I wish we could have discovered the books she could have written earlier in her life. She might be the wife of one of the most famous authors, but she was a talented author in herself, who was able to describe the struggles of being a woman and the world of Parisian ballet in a way I've never encountered before. This book is one to read, just for the beauty of itself.
Profile Image for Ali.
1,242 reviews346 followers
November 11, 2017
The one and only novel written by Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Save me the Waltz is the novel my very small book group chose for our July read. It is the book Zelda wrote during a period she spent in a Baltimore hospital to receive psychiatric treatment, while there she spent around two hours a day writing as a part of a daily routine to aid her recovery. The book was written in just a few weeks and to be absolutely honest it shows. Both Harry T Moore who wrote the introduction printed in this edition, and the Wikipedia page for the novel suggest that F. Scott Fitzgerald insisted upon or at least strongly encouraged her to make various revisions. I can’t help but feel very sad for this woman who had so many hopes and dreams, suffered so much illness and who, devastated by the lack of success her novel had, never published another.

I wonder whether Zelda is still best for who she married (the fate of many women with talent and ambition sadly) or whether Vintage’s re-issuing of this novel in 2001 and the recent novel; Z a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler has re-established interest in Zelda for her own sake – I hope so. In her day, she was a famous glamour girl and an aspiring ballerina, dubbed the first American flapper by her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda and Scott were the epitome of the jazz age, and their story still fascinates many fans today. The novel is highly autobiographical, and tells a similar story to that of F. Scot’s novel Tender is the Night. There are many well written passages, some lovely description and the novel shows that Zelda was certainly a writer of some talent – however there is also a lot of the novel which is rather overwritten, and for me the characters lacked depth. The novel is still fascinating for what it might teach us about Zelda herself.

“She felt the essence of herself pulled finer and smaller like those streams of spun glass that pull and stretch till there remains but a glimmering illusion. Neither falling nor breaking, the stream spins finer. She felt herself very small and ecstatic. Alabama was in love.”

The novel tells the story of Alabama Biggs, the youngest of three sisters, she grows up in the south, fascinated by her older, beautiful sisters and their beaus, she is in a hurry to grow up. The daughters of Judge Austin Biggs and Miss Millie – the opening to this novel had a wonderful Southern feel which transports the reader to another time entirely.

“A southern moon is a sodden moon, and sultry. When it swamps the fields and the rustling sandy roads and the sticky honeysuckle hedges in its sweet stagnation, your fight to hold on to reality is like a protestation against a first waft of ether.”

Just before World War One Alabama meets her own beau, David Knight, the two marry and David goes on to become a very successful painter. The Knights (like the Fitzgeralds of course) become the toast of jazz society – everyone seems to know them or want to know them, their lives for a time is almost one long party.

Full review: https://heavenali.wordpress.com/2017/...
Profile Image for Rory.
159 reviews37 followers
November 27, 2012
This is a hard book to read--an even harder book to write.

So much of this novel has to been seen in the context of Zelda Fitzgerald being the wife of the most popular and well regarded writer of her peers. So much of what is wrong with this book feels like it is because of that weight pressing on the author--but it is a book that should not be ignored or forgotten.

The story is simple--a beautiful couple mixed in the world of fame, art, love and hope... Him a world famous painter and her a world reknown beauty struggling in the pursuit of marriage, creativity, family and sanity. The plot is as simple as it sounds but it is Zelda's unique attempt to string words and meaning together in her own way and the obvious struggle to avoid comparsion to Scott that makes this interesting.

Zelda's use of words and description--at points--is forced with her trying so hard to not sound like the one writer she knew and loved. This can and does overwhelm the plot at points but once she has Alabama break free of her domestic life and pursuit her passions the book becomes something more. It's about a woman's struggle for meaning and independence, to create her own value away from her looks and away from the shadow of her husband. You cant help but feel the realness of Alabama's desperation at points because it is so connected to how Zelda must have felt. It's hard and beatiful but puts thing into a perspective that is quiet and valuable.

Worth a read of any fan of F. Scott or anyone intrigued by the ghost of Zelda herself.
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