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3.8 out of 5 stars11
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 2 June 2011
I believe that the book itself should not be read as a standalone, but as a piece of the Fitzerald's life. In itself is hard to read, especially the first part of the book, which is utterly chaotic and hard to follow. Ideas, characters and events are crowding to get a piece of the reader. But, in the second half you can enjoy the language, metaphors and all the beauty of Zelda's mind.

I read this after finishing all of Scott's novels and the love letters between the couple. And I feel it was the right order to do it, because it gives a very interesting view from the other side (Zelda's) of what was happening between them. While reading it I had in mind that she was hospitalized in a mental institution while writing it, so, in a way you can feel her emotions in the book, even if those had been altered by modification before the publishing.

My real regret is that she didn't write more, and that she was not sane when she did...
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on 15 February 2014
'Under separate cover, as I believe is the professional phraseology, I have mailed you my first novel. Scott [Fitzgerald] being absorbed in his own has not seen it, so I am completely in the dark as to its possible merits. If the thing is too wild for your purposes, might I ask what you suggest?'

Zelda Fitzgerald, in a letter to Maxwell Perkins, March 1932

Written in six weeks while its author was a resident of John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Save Me the Waltz is one of those books that has all the right components, but stalls almost immediately.

Despite the brief time it took to write and Scott's connections to Scribners, the novel led a less than charmed life. Scott wanted alterations. Some were points of copyright (Zelda used the name of 'Amory Blaine' for a character - Scott's hero in This Side of Paradise). Others were points of craft (the middle section sagged, and needed extensive revision). Others seem deeply hypocritical, considering how thoroughly Scott had looted their marriage for material in the past. Once published, the novel tanked: a mere 1,380 copies, earning Zelda $120.73, after deducting the costs for extensive proof corrections.

Rightly, too. Switch off hindsight, and it's hard to imagine writing like this avoiding the slush pile:

'They ordered Veronese pastry on lawns like lace curtains at Versailles and chicken and hazelnuts at Fountainbleu where the woods wore powdered wigs. Discs of umbrella poured over suburban terraces with the smooth round ebullience of a Chopin waltz. They sat in the distance under the lugubrious dripping elms, elms like maps of Europe, elms frayed at the end like bits of chartreuse wool, elms heavy and bunchy as sour grapes. They ordered the weather with a continental appetite, and listened to the centaur complain about the price of hoofs.'

There's barely a page in which something avoids having this amount of lush, undisciplined prose dumped on top of it. The images are charged, but don't connect to their subject; the similes amplify and call attention to themselves, rather than distill and focus attention on what's happening. It's the kind of material authors smile at as they write their first draft, frown at during their second, and cut from their third.

Much as you sympathise with Zelda, this novel is a dud.
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on 15 June 2009
Before I read this book, I only knew two things about Zelda: she was married to F Scott Fitzgerald, and she spent years in a mental home. So it was quite a surprise to see just what a brilliant and funny woman she was.
In her novel, "Save Me the Waltz", she writes with a hasty, confused style. She lingers over descriptions of flowers, then scurries past the key facts with barely a glance. She stuffs sentences with two, three, or even four metaphors at a go. It's a kind of literary bulimia. She loves to take a phrase and then reverse it to see what comes out. She invents words that we can sort of decipher from their roots or their context. She animates the inanimate so that cities, clouds, roads and trains all act consciously in her universe. For example, she tells us that "the sun... bruised itself on the clotted cotton fields". And yet there is something incredibly new and vital about her style. Its a frantic journey to pretty much nowhere in the end, but there is something wonderful about clinging on to her imagination for the ride. What this book seems to lack is any editing - but we can read her character through its lines, and it is quite likely that editing her would be tough.
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on 26 February 2002
The parallel source of this book with her husband's "Tender is the Night" fades as the characters and plot unfolds. There is indeed interest in comparing the two, but Zelda displays her own style, passions and perceptions. There is a yearning and desperation in the main character, that provides both strength and pathos. This is a rewarding read, being both timeless in its themes, yet rooted scenically in its own age.
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on 25 February 2015
Parts of this book are incredibly difficult to understsnd. Msybr she was only sane when she was dancing. And therefore maybe the novel only comes together shen she has a purpose in life? Bits of it are very well written and readable. But quote a struggle and it bcomes a bit wierd agsin at the end. not a book I would. Hoose to read.
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on 31 August 2015
Once you get used to her writing style (lots of similes and metaphors on every page; sometimes you realise things have happened suddenly without explanation or elaboration) I really enjoyed it. Very evocative of the age, which is what I was hoping for. Real pity she only wrote the one book because I love 1920s / 1930s stories.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 May 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 (Penguin Hardback Classics), 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 (Penguin Hardback Classics)", 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.
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on 22 August 2013
In the first section of Zelda Fitzgerald's Save Me The Waltz the inner life of Alabama, a female teenager is described in evocative, poetic language. I was really stunned and captured by her use of metaphor and it seems almost stream of consciousness at times. It's rare to find female sexuality described in a true, non-pornographic way and its rarer still to find a young woman's sexuality described outside of pornographic terms. Save Me The Waltz is a unique and important book
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on 13 August 2014
I'm very excited to read this as I know how interesting Zelda Fitzgerald's life was!
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on 29 September 2014
Wonderful tale.
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