Zelda Fitzgerald’s only novel, Save Me The Waltz (1932) was written in six weeks and covers the period of her life that her husband F Scott Fitzgerald had been drawing on for years while writing Tender is the Night (1934). She died in 1948. Save Me The Waltz is a classic novel of the woman’s experience in fast-moving American Jazz Age society.
‘The Fitzgeralds seemed to be incapable of even attending a party without leaving written traces of the occasion. Scholars have had a lot of material to rifle through while attempting to decide who copied whom and how much Scott discouraged his wife … for those wondering what Zelda did do, Handheld Press have reprinted Save Me The Waltz, her only completed novel, in a nice scholarly edition … Zelda excels at descriptions of places, witty phrases and bon mots; conversation is lively and loud, and some of the book’s best passages have the pull and snap of screwball comedy’, 18 April 2019, The London Review of Books
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Zelda Fitzgerald’s only novel Save Me The Waltz opens during the First World War. Alabama Beggs is a Southern belle who makes her début into adulthood with wild parties, dancing and drinking, and flirting with the young officers posted to her home town. When the artist Lieutenant David Knight arrives to join her line of suitors, Alabama marries him. Their life in New York, Paris and the South of France closely mirrors the Fitzgeralds’ own life and their prominent socialising in the 1920s and 1930s as part of what was later called the Lost Generation.
Like Zelda, Alabama became passionate about dance. She attends ballet class in Paris every day. She refuses to accept that she might not become the great dancer that she ardently longs to be, and this threatens her mental health and her marriage.
Erin E Templeton’s introduction to Zelda Fitzgerald’s finest literary work shows how these struggles to become a dancer were the result of Zelda’s need to have a life of her own rather than living in her husband’s shadow. Here’s Erin reading an extract from the novel.
Watch our video, in which we talk about the novel’s background in ballet, why it annoyed F Scott Fitzgerald so much, and the problem with Zelda’s French.
And in the Times Literary Supplement, Joanna Scutts reviews our edition alongside the Variorum edition of Zelda’s husband’s work: ‘the much prettier Handheld Press edition of Save Me the Waltz is the latest in a series of “rediscoveries” of Zelda’s only novel, which still calls for explanation and, to an extent, justification.’
The F Scott Fitzgerald Review said: ‘both handsomely designed and conveniently priced for classroom purposes … includes explanatory notes, which are particularly helpful for a novel laden with literary allusions, flora and fauna, and ballet terminology … The real attraction in this edition, however, is the introduction by Erin E Templeton … she brings a fresh perspective to the book informed by recent developments in modernist studies’ (vol 17, 2019).
Download and read our Zelda Fitzgerald biography