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Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Spanish Bow

Romano-Lax, Andromeda. The Spanish Bow. Originally, Romano-Lax intended to write a nonfiction account of the life of Pablo Casals, the Spanish cellist. She found, however, that the story she wanted to tell became the story of Feliu Delargo, who does embody some aspects of the life and times of Casals, but whose story is different.

Romano-Lax compares the book to a collage; an apt comparison, as she appropriates characteristics and events from the lives of various real individuals and recombines them into new characters who will carry forth her story.

From the first chapter, the author captivated me both with the unusual circumstances involving Feliu's birth and with her style. The exposition and development provide the majority of the book, and although I was aware of this, it never made me impatient. It is so easy to flow along with Romano-Lax, to let her set the pace and to be content, to simply take pleasure in her beautiful writing. The background-- Feliu's journey as a musician and his friendship with Al-Cerraz--is crucial to the climax when it does occur at the end of the novel.

I loved the novel. There is little more that I can think to say, and I can't even explain why I loved it so much, but I was pulled completely into this narrative about a man who was, in many ways, ordinary...full of strengths and weaknesses, but who was extraordinary in his talent and in his devotion to his music.

If you read it, be sure to visit The Music of the Bow, where there are excerpts from some of the pieces the author listened to as she wrote. Her musical recommendations will provide me with some new CD's; Spanish Cello Rhapsody will be my first purchase.

Fiction. Historical fiction; music. 2007. Harcourt. 554 pages.


  1. Thanks for the review-this sounds like a definite for the TBR. As soon as you said that she had described it as a collage, it sounded like me! Plus, as a violinist, I love anything about the stringed instruments. The cello is sooo gorgeous-thanks for the website link as well!

  2. I really like that cover! I might have to pick that book up, I have been reading books of this nature lately.

  3. I got lucky and got an ARC of this book so I'm super excited about it now! Sounds like it's going to be a fun read.

  4. Eva -- Oh, yes, you should really appreciate this story! The author says she loves collages and that is why she included a bit about Picasso.

    Kailana -- I love the cover, too; it seems so perfect.

    iliana -- I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  5. Ooh, thanks for pointing out the music excerpts! I didn't see those previously, and I wish I had been listening to them while reading the novel.

    Great review. :)