It has taken me a couple days to write this review because I just fell in love with this book. The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax was the perfect book for the moment. And doesn't it just have a beautiful cover?
I had finished a book on my subway ride to work and couldn't imagine my long boring ride home without a book. So I swung by the bookstore and found this hardcover book for a discount. I do believe it is out in paperback now.
The Spanish Bow starts off like this:
"I was almost born Happy."
Literally, the main character was almost named Feliz, which means happy, but there was an error on his death certificate (!!!!) so he was named Feliu.
The story follows the life of the fictional famous Spanish cellist, Feliu Delargo. Born before the turn of the Twentieth Century, his life's path takes him through World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II. He becomes a cellist in the court of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Ena. His life intersects with famous musicians, artists, and politicians.
A cellist herself, Andromeda Romano-Lax writes the description of music beautifully. As a child Feliu describes notes and sounds as tastes of bitter chocolate and tart lemons. I loved that. Her depiction of the historical aspects were amazing too. I loved the interaction between Feliu and his devotion to Queen Ena. I love the odd friendship between Feliu and famous but also fictional pianist Al-Cerraz. And his complicated love with Aviva the violinist.
There is a warning though. This book is quite long at almost 550 pages so don't expect a quick read. And it can be quite serious and sad at times...but that is pretty much why I liked it. This is a story about friendship, music, love, hate, and everything in between. It wasn't a pleasant and easy time period for Spain. But this is not a war story. It's about the decisions we make in our lives. It's about the purpose of our lives. Overall, it is just a touching, moving, beautiful book with it's ups and downs, highs and lows...much like the music she describes.
Here's a link to the book's discussion guide by Harcourt Books.
Oh...and I'm adding Picasso's famous piece Guernica which is mentioned in the book as well:
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Minds Alive on the Shelves