Published in 2007. 554 pages.
When I was a child, historical fiction was a favorite genre of mine, one which my mom encouraged me to explore. I've read less historical fiction in recent years, but I was excited to return to the genre with a review copy of this debut novel by Andromeda Romano-Lax.
First line: I was almost born Happy.
Brief summary of the plot: Beginning with his birth in Spain in 1892 and following his life through the Spanish Civil War and World War II, this is the "autobiography" of a fictional cellist named Feliu Delargo.
Connecting to history: I am not familiar with the real cellist Pablo Casals whose life inspired this novel. Neither am I very familiar with the Spanish Civil War. But Feliu's life intersects with a number of famous historical figures, including Pablo Picasso and Adolf Hitler, and I certainly learned some things about the history of Spain in reading The Spanish Bow.
Something I loved about this book: Romano-Lax's prose is lyrical, perfect for the tale of a musician. This book is beautifully written.
Something I didn't like as well: Toward the end of the book, my progress was slow. While I will readily admit that a week of long days at work left me with little time or energy to read, I did struggle through a section of about 100 pages when the story was focused more, I thought, on the politics of war than on Feliu's story.
A favorite passage from the book:
But those are financial details. What I remember best from those times is the music itself. When it succeeded, we took hold of the audience's attention, working it from a distracted, unshaped mass into spun beauty, passing the fine strands back and forth until we wove together something grander, not only music but memory, too - the particulars of past and present, stretched taut across a loom of timeless ideals. Harmony. Symmetry. Order.
For more information: Check out the author's website here and a discussion guide here.
To share in the joy of a good book: I would love to pass my copy of The Spanish Bow to another interested reader. Leave a comment if you'd be interested, and I will randomly pick one lucky reader from those who comment by Monday, October 8.