100 books like Last Waltz in Vienna

By George Clare,

Here are 100 books that Last Waltz in Vienna fans have personally recommended if you like Last Waltz in Vienna. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Small Island

Eleanor Shearer Author Of River Sing Me Home

From my list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I fell in love with History as an academic subject, I fell in love with stories. And as the granddaughter of Caribbean immigrants, true stories of my grandparents’ early lives could transport me to another place as vividly as fiction. So although I have studied History to Master’s level, where I specialized in the legacy of slavery, it is always to fiction that I turn to breathe life into the past. My favourite books are those that are unsettling in the unfamiliarity of the world they create, and yet deeply moving because, at heart, the characters are motivated by timeless and human things like grief, ambition, or love. 

Eleanor's book list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory

Eleanor Shearer Why did Eleanor love this book?

This novel is about the experience of the Windrush generation – the Caribbean people who moved to Britain after the Second World War.

Andrea Levy so perfectly captures the experiences of these people that I feel like I can see my own grandparents on the page.

But what I love most about this book is that it sees itself as telling a part of British history – showing how the Caribbean and Britain were connected, but also exploring with equal empathy the experiences of white British characters during and after the War.

As someone mixed race, it is so rare to find books that speak to both sides of my heritage, and this is one of them. 

By Andrea Levy,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Small Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hortense shared Gilbert's dream of leaving Jamaica and coming to England to start a better life. But when she at last joins her husband, she is shocked by London's shabbiness and horrified at the way the English live. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was. Queenie's neighbours do not approve of her choice of tenants, and neither would her husband, were he there. Through the stories of these people, Small Island explores a point in England's past when the country began to change.


Book cover of When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa

Martin Fletcher Author Of Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

From my list on the refugee experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my work as a news reporter and war correspondent, I met people on the worst day of their lives. I always wondered: What now? How will they get on with life? My own parents faced that dreadful dilemma. Penniless refugees, their families murdered in the Holocaust, unemployed in London, how on earth did they find the strength to carry on? One day at a time, they just did what they had to do. That is the subject of my fiction, always trying to answer that existential question: How do we live with trauma, and still find love and happiness?

Martin's book list on the refugee experience

Martin Fletcher Why did Martin love this book?

A beautifully intertwined story of the decline of a man and the parallel decline of a nation, Zimbabwe, which pivots into an entirely new story: the author’s dying Christian British father was actually a Polish Jew, born Kazimierz Goldfarb, whose family was killed in Treblinka concentration camp.

Godwin’s story is ultimately inspiring and uplifting as he comes to terms with his family’s past while building his own future in his new country.

By Peter Godwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When a Crocodile Eats the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Godwin, an award-winning writer, is on assignment in Zululand when he is summoned by his mother to Zimbabwe, his birthplace. His father is seriously ill; she fears he is dying. Godwin finds his country, once a post-colonial success story, descending into a vortex of violence and racial hatred.

His father recovers, but over the next few years Godwin travels regularly between his family life in Manhattan and the increasing chaos of Zimbabwe, with its rampant inflation and land seizures making famine a very real prospect. It is against this backdrop that Godwin discovers a fifty-year-old family secret, one which…


Book cover of Desert Flower

Martin Fletcher Author Of Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

From my list on the refugee experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my work as a news reporter and war correspondent, I met people on the worst day of their lives. I always wondered: What now? How will they get on with life? My own parents faced that dreadful dilemma. Penniless refugees, their families murdered in the Holocaust, unemployed in London, how on earth did they find the strength to carry on? One day at a time, they just did what they had to do. That is the subject of my fiction, always trying to answer that existential question: How do we live with trauma, and still find love and happiness?

Martin's book list on the refugee experience

Martin Fletcher Why did Martin love this book?

It isn’t the best-written book but Waris Dirie’s account of her escape from Somalia, her life as a domestic servant in London, her marriages of convenience, and her ultimate triumph in New York’s world of fashion, haunted me for years.

A frank, intimate account of a beautiful woman’s escape from a nomadic tribal life of female abuse to scaling the heights of western fashion modeling.

By Waris Dirie, Cathleen Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Desert Flower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Waris Dirie (the name means desert flower) lives a double life - by day she is a famous model and UN spokeswoman on women's rights in Africa, at night she dreams of her native Somalia. Waris, one of 12 children, was born into a traditional family of desert nomads in East Africa. She remembers her early childhood as carefree- racing camels and moving on with her family to the next grazing spot - until it came her turn to meet the old woman who administered the ancient custom imposed on most Somalian girls: circumcision. Waris suffered this torture when she…


Book cover of Swedish Tango: A Novel

Martin Fletcher Author Of Promised Land: A Novel of Israel

From my list on the refugee experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my work as a news reporter and war correspondent, I met people on the worst day of their lives. I always wondered: What now? How will they get on with life? My own parents faced that dreadful dilemma. Penniless refugees, their families murdered in the Holocaust, unemployed in London, how on earth did they find the strength to carry on? One day at a time, they just did what they had to do. That is the subject of my fiction, always trying to answer that existential question: How do we live with trauma, and still find love and happiness?

Martin's book list on the refugee experience

Martin Fletcher Why did Martin love this book?

The former movie star “was now in a country where no one even knew his name.” The cry of every refugee, the eerie sense of being transparent, dispensable, irrelevant emerges powerfully from Alyson Richman’s intricately plotted and touching narrative: a fictional tale of World War Two refugees from Finland and France and asylum-seekers from Pinochet’s Chile whose new lives cross in Sweden.

By Alyson Richman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Swedish Tango as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Octavio Ribeiro is a rising movie star in Chile when, at the request of famed poet Pablo Neruda, he agrees to serve as a media trainer in the presidential campaign of Salvador Allende. This involvement exposes Octavio and his family -- especially his wife, Salomé -- to the ruthless kidnapping and terror tactics of Allende's political rival, General Augusto Pinochet...until they escape to political exile in Sweden, where another couple -- Samuel and Kaija Rudin -- are also living as expatriates.

Dr. Rudin is a psychiatrist specializing in treating people who, like Salomé, have been traumatized by the events of…


Book cover of The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Author Of Find Me Again: A Rebecca Temple Mystery

From my list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a child of Holocaust survivors who spent three years in slave labour camps. My mother told me stories of her experiences a child should probably not hear. The result is that my philosophy of life, and sometimes my writing, can be dark. It’s no surprise that this period of history imbues my novels. I chose to write mysteries to reach a wider audience, the Holocaust connections integral to the stories. During my research, I discovered a wealth of information on the Holocaust but learned that memoirs revealed best what happened to people on the ground. Memoirs draw you into the microcosm of a person’s life with its nostalgia, yearning, and inevitable heartbreak.

Sylvia's book list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Why did Sylvia love this book?

This unlikely story has a different focus from other Holocaust memoirs. After working in a slave labour camp, Edith Hahn, a Viennese Jew, was ordered to report for transport east, and probable death, but instead went into hiding with a new identity thanks to two Christian friends. Jews hiding in plain sight were called U-boats. Though trained as a lawyer, she worked as an ignorant nurse’s aide in a hospital and met a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. She told him she was Jewish but he wanted to marry her anyway and became both a protector and a constant threat. In an unsentimental style and with surprising dark humour, Hahn has written a gripping account of that period when being found out would have been fatal.

By Edith Hahn Beer, Susan Dworkin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nazi Officer's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman studying law in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her and her mother into a ghetto, issuing them papers branded with a "J". Soon Edith was taken away to a labour camp and when she returned home after months away she found her mother had been deported. Her boyfriend, Pepi, proved too terrified to help her, but a Christian friend was not. Using the woman's identity papers, she fled to Munich. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who fell in love with her and, despite her protests and even her eventual…


Book cover of Alice's Book: How the Nazis Stole My Grandmother's Cookbook

John R. Cammidge Author Of Abandoned in Berlin: A True Story

From my list on describing restitution experiences after WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

World War 2 has always interested me and my curiosity was strengthened a few years ago when my mother told me I was born illegitimate and my father had been the civil engineer building a nearby bomber airfield and a lodger with her parents. She was ashamed of what happened and lost contact with my father before I was born. Consequently, I wrote my first novel Unplanned. I then met the daughter of the Berlin mother in Abandoned in Berlin, and found it natural to pursue this story, given what I had discovered about my own upbringing. The effort has taught me to seek to forgive but never to forget.

John's book list on describing restitution experiences after WW2

John R. Cammidge Why did John love this book?

This is a story about the best-selling Viennese cookbook that was stolen by the Nazis and republished under someone else’s name during the War. The text and color photographs are identical, but the names of the authors are different. The original author, Alice Urbach, who was Jewish, had her book “Aryanized” for over 80 years, even though her hands are still featured in the illustrations. It shows how respectable businesses and individuals can continue to profit from the persecution of Jews long after the Holocaust ended. 

I found this a quite remarkable story that has only recently been published in English. It demonstrates the extremes to which the Nazis went to stamp out anything that was Jewish. Only in 2021 were the rights returned to the original author posthumously.

By Karina Urbach, Jamie Bulloch (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alice's Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Unputdownable . . . Urbach has also retold the tragic Holocaust story in quite unforgettable lines" A.N. Wilson

"This fascinating book, by Alice's granddaughter Karina Urbach, shines a spotlight on this lesser-known aspect of Nazi looting" The Times

"A gripping piece of 20th-century family history but also something much more original: a rare insight into the 'Aryanisation' of Jewish-authored books during the Nazi regime" Financial Times

What happened to the books that were too valuable to burn?

Alice Urbach had her own cooking school in Vienna, but in 1938 she was forced to flee to England, like so many others.…


Book cover of The Morning Gift

Rachel McMillan Author Of The Mozart Code

From my list on set in Vienna and will create a lifelong love for the city.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries, and the Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese-set romances. I am also the author of The London Restoration. My non-fiction includes Dream, Plan and Go: A Travel Guide to Inspire Independent Adventure and A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide. I live in Toronto, Canada.

Rachel's book list on set in Vienna and will create a lifelong love for the city

Rachel McMillan Why did Rachel love this book?

Recalling Ibbotson’s personal experience of leaving Austria for England before Hitler’s Anschluss, The Morning Gift is a witty and warm marriage of convenience story between a witty and intrepid archaeologist, Quinton Somerville, and a brilliant professor’s daughter Ruth Berger. When Ruth is accidentally left behind in Vienna after her family has emigrated to England, Quin marries Jewish Ruth and protects her from oncoming Nazi occupation: under the condition that they will part ways when both are safely back in London. But Quin and Ruth continue to run into each other again and again and again. A deliciously Austrian-flavoured book. Ibbotson’s Viennese set-sequences and memories are a love letter to her city.

By Eva Ibbotson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Morning Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The Morning Gift is a beautiful, classic romance from much loved author, Eva Ibbotson.

Eighteen-year-old Ruth lives in the sparkling city of Vienna with her family, where she delights in its music, energy and natural beauty. She is wildly in love with the brilliant young pianist Heini Radik and can't wait until they are married.

But Ruth's world is turned upside down when the Nazis invade Austria and her family are forced to flee to England, and through a devastating misunderstanding she is left behind. Her only hope to escape Vienna comes from Quin, a young English professor, who unexpectedly…


Book cover of The Last Train To London

Sophie Poldermans Author Of Seducing and Killing Nazis: Hannie, Truus and Freddie: Dutch Resistance Heroines of WWII

From my list on World War II heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a Dutch author and lawyer specialized in international criminal law. My expertise is the role of women leaders in times of conflict, crisis, and change – especially during war and in post-conflict societies. Women are traditionally portrayed as victims, while it is precisely women who show genuine leadership skills in times of conflict, crisis, and change. I've done research on women’s armed resistance in the Netherlands in WWII, and am an expert on the lives and resistance work of Hannie Shaft and the sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen. In addition, I've done research in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and saw the same patterns in these conflicts and the impact on the generations after. 

Sophie's book list on World War II heroines

Sophie Poldermans Why did Sophie love this book?

A remarkable novel about Truus Wijsmuller, a very brave woman in the Netherlands, resisting the Nazis by smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. A very moving and true story. The role of women in the resistance movement in the Netherlands has been neglected or underrepresented for way too long, so this story helps to shed light on the active resistance women carried out in WWII. This is exactly what my platform ‘Sophie’s Women of War’ sheds light on. 

By Meg Waite Clayton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Train To London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National bestseller

A Historical Novels Review Editors' Choice

A Jewish Book Award Finalist

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe-and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from…


Book cover of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

Irene Wittig Author Of All That Lingers

From my list on hard times and resilience in the World War II era.

Why am I passionate about this?

World War II has been the background of my life. My Viennese family fled the Nazi regime. My childhood was peopled with Holocaust survivors and other people displaced by war. My uncle was a refugee and was trained as a Ritchie Boy and sent to war. I have been inspired by how people can survive traumatic times and come out stronger and kinder.

Irene's book list on hard times and resilience in the World War II era

Irene Wittig Why did Irene love this book?

A poignant, well-written and deeply researched non-fiction story of the author’s search for the girlfriend her grandfather had left behind in Vienna. As my family left Vienna because of the Nazi regime, and my own novel takes place in Vienna, I found Ms. Wildman’s book especially meaningful, raising the question not only of what had happened to the woman but also of how much guilt and responsibility the grandfather carried?

By Sarah Wildman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Paper Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One woman’s journey to find the lost love her grandfather left behind when he fled pre-World War II Europe, and an exploration into family identity, myth, and memory.

Years after her grandfather’s death, journalist Sarah Wildman stumbled upon a cache of his letters in a file labeled “Correspondence: Patients A–G.” What she found inside weren’t dry medical histories; instead what was written opened a path into the destroyed world that was her family’s prewar Vienna. One woman’s letters stood out: those from Valy—Valerie Scheftel—her grandfather’s lover, who had remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed…


Book cover of Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories

Thersa Matsuura Author Of The Carp-Faced Boy and Other Tales

From my list on a mix of wry humor and real horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t remember a time I haven’t been drawn to and fascinated by the link between absurdity/humor and horror. Both genres involve setups and payoffs. The tension built up needs to be released in either a gasp or a laugh. In my own writing, I try to make myself giggle in joy at the ridiculousness of a situation and then recoil at the underlying horror that anchors it to the real world. It’s a balance I constantly try to reach and that I personally find is a joy to read.

Thersa's book list on a mix of wry humor and real horror

Thersa Matsuura Why did Thersa love this book?

I read somewhere that Franz Kafka would laugh so loud when writing his stories that he woke up his neighbors. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I get it. It’s not what is commonly thought of when someone talks about Kafka’s stories. I mean, his name has come to mean a certain style. “Kafkaesque” is used to describe stories that are absurd, nightmarish, offensive, and heavy with bureaucratic pretentiousness and deceit.

Where is the humor? Oh, it’s there. I think sometimes readers get caught up in the horror and bizarreness of it all that they miss the subtle, absurdist, dark, and very dry humor dripping in all these stories in this collection.

By Franz Kafka, Nahum N. Glatzer (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Franz Kafka as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TRIAL; THE CASTLE; AMERICA- Both Joseph K in THE TRIAL and K in THE CASTLE are victims of anonymous governing forces beyond their control. Both are atomised, estranged and rootless citizens deceived by authoritarian power. Whereas Joseph K is relentlessly hunted down for a crime that remains nameless, K ceaselessly attempts to enter the castle and so belong somewhere. Together these novels may be read as powerful allegories of totalitarian government in whatever guise it appears today. In AMERICA Karl Rossmann is 'packed off to America by his parents' to experience Oedipal and cultural isolation. Here, ordinary immigrants are…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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