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The Spanish Bow Hardcover – September 10, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (September 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151015422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151015429
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,837,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her impressive debut, Romano-Lax creates the epic story of Feliu Delargo, an underprivileged child prodigy whose musical ability brings him into contact with world leaders, first-class artists and a life filled with loss and triumph. Their father killed in Cuba just before the Spanish-American War, Feliu, his three brothers and one sister manage a meager life in Campo Seco, a small Catalan town, while their strong-willed mother fends off suitors. At 14, Feliu and his mother travel to Barcelona, where a cello tutor agrees to take on Feliu as a student. Over the years, as Feliu establishes himself, he crosses path with Justo Al-Cerra, an egotistical, manipulative pianist, and their touring leads to an intertwining of lives that becomes more complicated when they encounter Aviva, a violinist with her own emotional damage. As the trio tour and Europe careens toward WWII, Romano-Lax weaves into the narrative historical figures from Spanish royalty to Franco and Hitler, giving Feliu the opportunity to ponder the roles of morality in art and art in politics. Though the story has much heart and depth, Feliu's proximity to so many watershed moments of the 20th century can make him feel more like an instructive icon than a person. But for sheer scope and ambition, this is a tough debut to beat. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Set against the tumultuous backdrop of turn-of-the-century Spain, this fusion of art and politics traces the professional and personal evolution of a world-class cellist. As Feliu Delargo moves from prodigy to major talent, he travels from anarchist Barcelona to royalist Madrid. The volatile relationship between the idealistic Delargo and the pragmatic pianist Justo Al-Cerraz mirrors all the passion and turmoil of a Spain on the brink of civil war. Colleagues, friends, and rivals, the two take radically divergent paths when Franco assumes power, but are reunited in Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion. Joining forces, they prepare for one last fateful concert in order to save Aviva, the Jewish violinist they both love. This riveting historical page-turner moves inexorably toward a heartrending crescendo. Flanagan, Margaret

Customer Reviews

The storyline was compelling as were the characters, and it is a unique story told in a unique writing style.
Jenn
While the plot's important to the book, and the ending is fascinating, it's the journey that's the most enthralling thing about this book.
David W. Nicholas
I started reading the book, and then when I hit the end of the fifth chapter realized more time had gone by than I had planned on.
M. L Lamendola

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on June 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've gained a certain appreciation for novels from Spain recently, though they have to be translated into English for me to read them I'm afraid. I enjoyed the Shadow of the Wind, and I'm a big fan of Arturo Perez-Reverte. So when someone handed me this advance copy of this book, I approached it with high expectations. Those expectations were fulfilled: this is a wonderful, intelligent, unusual first novel, with a fascinating cast of characters, a strange plot, and interesting settings.

The main character starts out being misnamed. His mother wanted to call him Feliz, but the notary wound up writing Feliu instead. He grows, and at an early age, when his father dies in Cuba (then a Spanish colony, soon to be liberated by the U.S.) the mother receives a box of gifts from the dead father, and distributes them among the children. Feliu winds up with a bow, the thing you draw across the strings of a violin or a cello to make music. When an adolescent, his Catalonian village is visited by a pianist who performs. Justo Al-Cerraz is a child prodigy who's grown up, and still performs around the country. When Justo visits the village, Feliu is playing the violin, trying to learn it, but one of Justo's trio-mates is a cellist, and that puts Feliu into sort of a trance where he feels he must play only that instrument. He winds up going to Barcelona to learn.

From there the novel takes many turns, with Justo and Feliu eventually becoming partners, then meeting up with a third player, a violinist who's an Italian Jew. By now, the plot has worked its way forward to the thirties, and the inevitable confrontation between the Nazis and the main characters comes very much at the end of the book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Viviane Crystal VINE VOICE on September 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Feliu Anibal Delargo's mother's first words after he was born were, "Let him cry...It's the most beautiful music in the world." His father dies when this boy is quite young but leaves his son a out-sized cello bow, a source of pride for Feliu. But oh, how his world is transformed when he hears two famous musicians play at a local concert. One he admires and one he wants to literally become because the vibrational beauty of that music has touched something essential in this boy's musical sensitivity.
In 1907 Feliu travels to Barcelona, Spain for the beginning of his music lessons. From that point on the book seems to fly as Delargo learns at the hands of two formidable music masters. So talented is he that he for a short time becomes the favorite musician and friend of Spain's Queen, is befriended by a famous Spanish pianist and adores a young Jewish-Italian violinist woman searching for her lost daughter.

The plot thickens with history and its consequent chaos, ranging from Spain's war in Morocco all the way through to Hitler and Goebbel's desire for fine music. Feliu throughout it all rejects the use of art through music for political or romantic purposes, and the surprise ending of this novel makes the reader realize just how potent and poignant such a choice was in reality.

The Spanish Bow is a beautifully written, sensual, sensitive, passionate, poetic, epic story that will make the reader want to listen to beautiful classical music and canvas the world of music to learn more about its classical musicians.

Just lovely, Andromeda Romano-Lax!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on September 12, 2007
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on August 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes, fiction is so well researched and so well written that you have to remind yourself it's fiction. That's the case with The Spanish Bow. I started reading the book, and then when I hit the end of the fifth chapter realized more time had gone by than I had planned on. I had to get back to work!

Reluctantly, I put it down. But then a thought struck me. Why was someone named Andromeda writing an autobiography of a person named Feliu DeLargo? Puzzled, I turned to the inside jacket cover only to remind myself of what I had already known. It was, indeed, fiction.

The story begins with the birth of Feliu, who entered the world backwards and was initially mistaken for stillborn. That troubled birth foreshadows other events that would unfold in his native Spain and beyond.

One reason this story seemed so real is the characters are well developed. For example, each character has a unique way of speaking. When an author does dialogue well, you can tell who is talking just by reading what was said. It wasn't long before I was able to follow the dialogue that way.

The characters also have their individual quirks, their personal demons, their own agendas, and their own world views. As befitting good fiction, these had areas of overlap and of conflict. If Romano-Lax didn't develop a detailed profile or back story on each of the characters, I would be surprised.

Watching these characters interact in a messy, true to life way made the story real and engaging. That realness, and the complete departure from the formulaic writing that characterizes most of today's fiction releases, made it easy for me to ignore this book's size. The story takes up 541 pages, and every one of them just whizzes by.
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More About the Author

Born in 1970 in Chicago, Andromeda Romano-Lax worked as a freelance journalist and travel writer before turning to fiction. Her first novel, The Spanish Bow, was translated into eleven languages and was chosen as a New York Times Editors' Choice, BookSense pick, and one of Library Journal's Best Books of the Year. Her second novel, The Detour, was published in 2012. Among her nonfiction works are a dozen travel and natural history guidebooks to the public lands of Alaska, as well as a travel narrative, Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez: A Makeshift Expedition Along Baja's Desert Coast, which was an Aububon Editor's Choice. Andromeda lives with her husband and children in Anchorage, Alaska, where she co-founded and now teaches for a nonprofit organization, the 49 Alaska Writing Center. She is also on faculty in the University of Alaska Anchorage low-residency MFA program.

Andromeda blogs at www.romanolax.com and enjoys hearing from readers.


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