Pages

Saturday, September 6, 2008

THE SPANISH BOW by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Andromeda Romano-Lax's debut THE SPANISH BOW is out in paperback this month; I reviewed the novel last year for the Historical Novels Review, and it was one of my favorite books of the year. Set in Spain before and during the Spanish Civil War, it captures the conflicts between art and politics as seen through the eyes of a gifted cellist, his flamboyant mentor, and the mysterious woman who captures their hearts. Well worth reading, here is my review in its entirety:
Andromeda Romano-Lax. THE SPANISH BOW
Harcourt. 2007. 560 pgs. $25.00 hc .0151015422

Can art save us from ourselves? In her elegant debut, THE SPANISH BOW, Ms Romano-Lax ponders this timeless question through the ambitious tale of Feliu Delargo, a gifted cellist born in turn-of-the-century Spain who receives the unexpected gift of a bow from his dead father and sets himself on a resolute path to mastering his craft. His journey takes him from performing in the defiant streets of Barcelona to the confidences of the queen of Spain and a tumultuous partnership with flamboyant pianist Justo Al-Cerraz, who introduces Feliu to the rigors and joys of life as an itinerant musician as well as the eventual deception of fame. As civil war decimates his homeland and fascism spreads across Europe, Feliu finds himself increasingly conflicted over the relevance of music in a crumbling world—until he meets Aviva, an Italian violinist whose inexorable quest to redeem her past plunges Feliu into destructive rivalry and ultimate sacrifice. From the hypocrisies of the courts of Madrid to the terror of Nazi-occupied Paris, Romano-Lax weaves the upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century into an elegy to the simultaneous power and impotency of art, and the contradictions of the human spirit. – C.W. Gortner