On the surface “All for Love” is an odd title for a post relating to Vienna Waltz. Despite–or because–of their myriad romantic intrigues, most of the characters have a distinctly unromantic attitude toward love. Very much including Malcolm/Charles and Mélanie/Suzanne. This week’s post is a riff on one of the Vienna Waltz discussion questions:

14. Many of the characters claim not to believe in love or not to believe love lasts, yet a number of them do things that are motivated by love. Which actions, by which characters, do you think most strongly convey love for another character?

I was intrigued by this question when I wrote it, and to be honest I’m not sure how I’d answer it myself. But I do think there’s a lot of love beneath the surface in Vienna Waltz. Adam Czartoryski risks his career, his hopes for Poland, and possibly his life to protect Tsarina Elisabeth. Metternich jeopardizes his position and his negotiating power at the Congress to try to recover Wilhelmine of Sagan’s daughter and later her missing letter. Wilhelmine, to a large degree, is driven by her love for her missing daughter. The need to recover her daughter even influences her love affairs. Talleyrand has very complicated feelings for Dorothée, though now I think about it they don’t per say influence his actions in the book. I think they will play a stronger role in the book I’m just beginning. Geoffrey Blackwell, a confirmed bachelor and cynic, takes the risk of proposing to the much younger Aline.

Malcolm/Charles keeps Tatiana’s secrets out of an emotional debt to both Tatiana and his mother. Later, he confesses those feelings to Suzanne/Mélanie, because his feelings for her trump his earlier promise. He also tries to make sure Suzanne and Colin would be protected in the event of his death. Suzanne lies to protect Malcolm, even after finding him kneeling over the body of the woman she believes was his mistress. Later, she tries to comfort Malcolm in his grief for Tatiana, despite believing he and Tatiana had been lovers.

Those are just some of the examples. What do you think? Which actions, by which characters, most strongly convey love for another character? Which character is protesting too much when he or she claims not to believe in love? Which character is the greatest romantic?

I’ve just posted a new letter in the Fraser Correspondence from the distinctly unromantic Aline (who nevertheless finds love in the course of the book) to her mother Lady Frances about Princess Tatiana’s murder.