Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Spanish Bow
by Andromeda Romano-Lax

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.



  1. Hi
    Sounds a good book, I love historical fiction. I saw you had The Historian in your reading list - that is a really good one. I can also recommend The Interpretation of Murder.

  2. I love historical fiction, too. Please enter me in your drawing. Thanks!

  3. I got a review copy of this book as well. It has one of my favourite opening sentences that I've read this year. And I, as well, did struggle a little bit when the book was more political than anything else.

    What was interesting was a few weeks after I read this, I went to a concert (Loreena McKennitt) and one of the musicians played the cello. It gave it me a completely new appreciation for the instrument.

  4. Oh, yes! My hand is raised and I'm wiggling in my seat just hoping you'll pick me. Love that cover and your review. Sounds like a good book.

  5. Ohh... I just love historical fiction. It makes you feel like you are right there in the past. And being a musician makes it even more interesting. Please enter me. :)

  6. This sounds really good, and the author's name definitely grabs my attention. I would love to be entered.

  7. I am pretty new to the historical fiction genre and I'm excited about it because I've liked my selections so far and I feel as if there's a whole new world out there for me to read. I'd love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.