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The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
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The Spanish Bow (2007)

by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Historical fiction featuring a cellist beginning at his birth in Spain in 1892. Beautiful descriptive passages!"Duarte's cello was a glossy caramel color, and the sound it produced was as warm and rich as the instrument looked. It sounded like a human voice. Not the high warble of an opera singer or anyone else singing for the stage, but rather the soothing voice of a fisherman singing as he mended his nets, or of a mother singing lullabies to her sleepy children. When the cellist reached a crescendo on one of the lower strings, I felt a strange sensation, both pleasurable and disturbing. It reminded me of holding a cat, feeling it's purrs resonate with me." ( )
  sraelling | May 7, 2018 |
The novel follows the fictitious cellist Feliu Delargo from his birth in a Catalan village in 1892 to the concert halls of Spain, France and Germany in the early 20th century and finally to the train depot in a small French port city in October 1940.

Romano-Lax has included a number of historical figures from the worlds of art, culture and politics – Kurt Weill, Pablo Picasso, and Adolf Hitler to name just three. The author was inspired by the life of Pablo Casals, but the book is NOT a fictionalized biography of Casals. The novel explores issues of personal responsibility and what history demands of the individual, in particular those individuals in the public eye; should they use their art and celebrity to advance a particular cause, to warn the populace, or to numb the masses. This is a large topic to tackle and the book covers a significant time frame where wars, disease and economic depressions taxed even the strongest and wealthiest. Romano-Lax manages this very well.

If I have any complaint it is that Feliu seemed too distant from what was going on around him. He was a leaf blown on the winds of change for most of the book. Even when he took a stand in one area of his life, he still drifted along in other areas. In contrast, pianist Justo Al-Cerraz (and Delargo’s friend) is portrayed as a larger-than-life, charming and eccentric bon vivant. Justo tries to get Feliu to wake up to life and participate, but it is an uphill battle.

All told, the story pulled me in and kept me turning pages. The author includes just enough humorous scenes to relieve the tension and avoid sounding “preachy.” When I got to the end, I found myself wishing the book were longer.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
How could I resist a book about a cellist? I especially liked the window onto early twentieth-century Spain. ( )
  lucypick | Sep 23, 2014 |
Startlingly good: 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. 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. The author enfolds you in the world of music in the 20s and 30s, and does a wonderful job of recreating what it's like to be a musician, at least from the point of view of the traveling, performing, and working.



I really enjoyed this book. The characters especially are very well-drawn and interesting, and the story is fascinating. I would recommend it to almost anyone interested in the period, in music, or interested in novels about life.
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
fictional story about Feliu, a child prodigy with the cello, and his account of the revolution of his homeland Spain. His struggles with taking on a political stand and being an artist. It was frustrating at times to deal with his indecisiveness regarding his love interest which ultimatey resulted in permanent loss. He compromises his principles in the end for the sake of a woman he never succeeded in winning. Perhaps that is the moral of the story. The sacrifices we make are not necessarily for our own benefit. ( )
  sanchef | Sep 25, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Andromeda Romano-Lax's ambitious debut, The Spanish Bow, a sweeping memoir of a fictional Spanish cellist, Feliu Delargo.
Here, the proliferation of real figures is as overwhelming, close to what Slavoj Zizek calls the 'parallax view' - an impossible shortcut between two levels that can't be spoken about in the same terms.
added by sneuper | editThe Observer, Ben Bollig (Jan 6, 2008)
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andromeda Romano-Laxprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gelder, Mariëtte vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A Brian Lax y Elizabeth Sheinkman, con respeto y gratitud.
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I was almost born Happy.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0151015422, Hardcover)

**DEBUT FICTION**
 
I was almost born Happy.
Literally, Feliz was the Spanish name my mother wanted for me. Not a family name, not a local name, just a hope, stated in the farthest-reaching language she knew—a language that once reached around the world, to the Netherlands, Africa, the Americas, the Philippines. Only music has reached farther and penetrated more deeply.

In a dusty, turn-of-the-century Catalan village, the bequest of a cello bow sets young Feliu Delargo on the unlikely path of becoming a musician. Anarchist Barcelona and the court of the embattled monarchy in Madrid teach him his first serious lessons in creativity, principle, and passion—and their consequences. When he meets up with the charming and eccentric piano prodigy Justo Al-Cerraz, their lifelong friendship and rivalry orchestrate a tumultuous course for them both. Over the span of half a century of creative struggle and international turmoil that sees them paying house calls on Picasso one year and being courted by dictators the next, they make glorious music together, and clash over virtually everything else: love, politics, and the purpose of art. When the tensions propelling a war-torn world toward catastrophe bring Aviva, an Italian violinist with a haunted past, into their lives, Feliu and Justo embark upon their final and most dangerous collaboration.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:31 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A young cello player and an egotistical pianist must cope with the political and social changes in Spain in the first half of the twentieth century, deciding when their personal beliefs should prevent them from performing.

» see all 7 descriptions

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