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The Spanish Bow

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  773 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
In a dusty, turn-of-the-century Catalan village, the bequest of a cellow bow sets young Feliu Delargo on an unlikely path. When a local landowner's wrath threatens his family, the Spanish bow leads Feliu to anarchist Barcelona, then on to the court in Madrid, where a music master's daughter gives him his first lessons in the art of love. There he meets up with the charming ...more
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published September 10th 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I made it nearly halfway through this book before deciding not to continue. It's a well-written, carefully told story. Perhaps a little too carefully told as regards the endless details of Feliu's life. I felt like the author assumed too much knowledge on the part of the reader about the events surrounding Feliu's experiences. I had hoped to learn something about Spanish history, but the author makes a lot of veiled references to events and intrigues with which we're already supposed to be famil ...more
Carol
Feliu Delargo was almost born happy, almost born with the name Felix as his mother had wanted. But instead he was a breach birth, born butt first into a house of chaos that mistakenly thought he was born dead. His name is misspelled on his birth certificate but does this mistake rob him of happiness in later life? He grew up in a small Spanish town in the late 19th century, where as a young boy he is taken to the train station by his mother. He thinks he is there to pick up his father. He is ...more
Abby
Jun 22, 2012 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feliu Delargo suffers two accidents at his birth in a Catalan village in 1892. A traumatic birth burdens him with a hip injury and the notary mistakes his mother’s intention to name him Feliz, or Happy. When he is six years old, his father, soon to die in Cuba, sends a box of gifts to be distributed among his children. Feliu is drawn to a wooden stick that sets him on his life’s course as he learns first to play the violin and then the cello.

Over the course of the 20th century, as Feliu becomes
...more
Book Concierge
Jun 24, 2016 Book Concierge rated it really liked it
The novel follows the fictitious cellist Feliu Delargo from his birth in a Catalan village in 1892 to the concert halls of Spain, France and Germany in the early 20th century and finally to the train depot in a small French port city in October 1940.

Romano-Lax has included a number of historical figures from the worlds of art, culture and politics – Kurt Weill, Pablo Picasso, and Adolf Hitler to name just three. The author was inspired by the life of Pablo Casals, but the book is NOT a fictiona
...more
Denise
Aug 15, 2008 Denise rated it liked it
This book came highly recommended by a good friend of mine. I can see why she thought I would like it; the protagonist is a cellist, and the book follows his life, from his inauspicious birth through his rising career, and finally into his old age, when his life has changed dramatically.

The portions having to do with music are enthralling. It's clear the author has first-hand knowledge of the art, the pull of the instrument, the need to play. As a pianist, I identify with the main character, as
...more
C.W.
Dec 26, 2011 C.W. rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Shana
Sep 25, 2012 Shana rated it it was ok
If you’ve read this then you know why this is so sad. It’s not entirely bad, it’s just that it drags on and on far past the point where you’re interested in the main character. I like how the author incorporates known artistic and political figures of the time period in, but that still doesn’t make up for the fact that it just drags. Not the best novel I’ve ever read but out of the bunch I brought home with me, I guess this was the best. *sigh*
Miss Eliza
Dec 31, 2008 Miss Eliza rated it really liked it


An interesting story of a young boy growing up with a fascination over playing the cello. The relationship of 3 musicians is explored in an historical setting in a culture is some degree of upheaval.
Sherry
Feb 04, 2009 Sherry rated it liked it
Set in Spain in early 1900s. Musical prodigies, art, politics, and more.
Yui Tamashi
Apr 23, 2015 Yui Tamashi rated it liked it
Dawno nie miałam aż tak ciężkiego wyboru w kwestii czy książka podobała mi się czy nie. Ta książka sprawiła, że nawet kilka dni po jej przeczytaniu mam niezły dylemat w głowie, a czemu? Już śpieszę z wyjaśnieniem.

Hiszpański smyczek autorstwa Andromedy Romano-Lax przenosi nas do dziewiętnastowiecznej Hiszpanii. Naszą podróż zaczynamy w Campo Seco, gdzie urodził się nasz narrator, Feliu Delargo. Początkowo miał on mieć na imię Feliz, co znaczy szczęście, ale notariusz zrobił błąd w akcie zgonu i t
...more
Julie
Oh, the treasures that await at Seattle's "The Spanish Table" market, tucked underneath the Pike St. Hillclimb. Reflecting off the gleam of steel paella pans and bottles of port and Albarino, lining the way to the cheese and sausage cold case, are several rows of books: cookbooks from Spain and Portugal, travel books to illuminate the Santiago de Compostela, and works of fiction about Iberia or by authors who have a connection to that peninsula so ripe with history and romance.

Enter "The Spanis
...more
Regina Lindsey
In his debut novel, Romano-Lux follows the life and musical devlopment of the fictional character, Feliu Delargo. While Delargo is inspired by the historical cellist Pablo Casals, it is clear this is not a fictionalized biography of Casals. In the opening chapters, young Feliu receives news of his father's death in Cuba, which is then followed by the arrival of a bow his father purchased as a gift for his son. Felius is first given violin lessons, at which he shows great talent. However, his ...more
Keksisbaby
Ob Felius Vater wußte welchen Weg er seinem Sohn weist, als er ihm nach seinem Tod einen Cellobogen vererbt? Den kleinen Jungen der in einem kleinen spanischen Dorf um die Jahrhundertwende aufgewachsen ist, läßt seine Liebe zur Musik insbesondere zum Cello nicht mehr los. Nach einem Zwischenfall, entschließt sich seine Mutter ihn zu unterstützen und zieht mit ihm in die Großstadt, wo der talentierte Junge durch die Hände unterschiedlicher Lehrer geht. Als Erwachsener ist er einer der ...more
Michelle
Jul 09, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
(3.5 stars)This book covers the life of cellist Feliu beginning with his difficult birth in a Spanish village. After his father's death abroad in Cuba prior to the beginning of the Spanish-American War, among his father's belongings that are returned is a beautifully made bow. The young bow is enamored with it and longs to play an instrument. One of his mother's suitors arranges for music lessons, and Feliu begins on the violin. However, when he first sees a cello, he knows that it will be the ...more
Susan
Sep 07, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
As a boy, Feliu Delargo receives the posthumous gift of a bow from his father. Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century Spain, this fusion of art and politics traces his destiny as fated by the gift. As he travels from anarchist Barcelona to royalist Madrid and on to the capitals of Europe, his musical ability brings him into contact with a who’s who of non-fictional political leaders and artists. However, when the fascists take control in Spain, his passion is channeled into the ...more
April Hamilton
Mar 23, 2009 April Hamilton rated it liked it
Review of the unabridged Audible audiobook.

The narration on this audiobook was very, very good. The narrator gives unique and believable voices to male and female characters of various ages and even nationalities.

As for the book itself, as historical drama it's a little too heavy on the history and a little too light on the characterization. The concept of following a single character through the tumult that gripped Spain in the 20's and 30's is strong, but the main character, Feliu, is so und
...more
Brian
Jul 11, 2009 Brian rated it liked it
According to the Author's Note at the end of the book, this novel started out as a work of non-fiction, to depict the life of Pablo Casals. Along the way, the author found the need to create new characters, including one for Casals, and turn to fiction in order to express herself, to "immerse myself in something beautiful and hopeful" following 9/11. The result is a passionate and interesting story set against the Spanish Civil War and the beginning of WWII. Lots of historical figures (Franco, ...more
Katrina
An interesting read and definitely well written. I was surprised and delighted by the obvious understanding the author must have of music, the cello, and the Spanish language, and how these aspects were woven tightly throughout, with all the history and several significant historical figures. A few things I didn't care for, so I rated it lower. The fictional characters were very well developed and it was an interesting sensation to understand the protagonist even while I didn't particularly like ...more
Erica
Apr 09, 2008 Erica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008
This is a sweeping, ambitious novel about a Spanish cellist that covers his life, from his birth to his death in 1978. I found it surprisingly funny, historically fascinating (I knew very little about the Spanish Civil War) and couldn't wait to get back to reading it when I had to stop. I was going to give it 4 stars because it's not a perfect book: there tended to be some lags before she picked up the thread of the story again, and it may have over-reached just a tiny bit at the expense of some ...more
Jenny
Sep 14, 2008 Jenny rated it it was ok
I was perhaps too disappointed in this book, since my standards for historical fiction are fairly high. It felt very much like three books, one quite good if uneven (the early years in Spain), one confusing and odd (the obsessive "love" story), and one a fairly dry history lesson complete with didactics (in case we missed the point that fascism is bad). But ultimately, it was the narrator that put me off the story most. Deeply and irrevocably passive and self-absorbed, he is extremely hard to ...more
Mhurst
Aug 09, 2011 Mhurst added it
Set against the backdrop of political turmoil in early 20th c. Spain (from the overthrow of its monarchy, through the Spanish Civil War to the uneasy alliance between Franco and Hitler) the recurring question that is asked in this novel is "what is the place of art in time of war and upheaval?"



The author does not draw any hard and fast conclusions. Rather, she elegantly and beautifully examines the complexity of this issue through the first-person memoirs of the cellist-protagonist.



The Web site
...more
Margo Brooks
Apr 28, 2013 Margo Brooks rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks, fiction
This novel wasn't my cup of tea, but I think that others may really love it. It is the story of the life of a cellist, with all interesting and boring bits of the tour circuit provided in great detail. For me, there were too many boring bits. And, because the story is told from the cellist's perspective looking back at his long life, the narrative was dull in places. Felix seemed so stuck in the mud, that it was hard to understand how he became a political activist. Set in the time of two World ...more
Ellen
Dec 25, 2008 Ellen rated it really liked it
The first 200 pages of this book were fabulous and I blew through them. The next 350 pages were a little weighted down with history. I felt like it would have been a lot more enoyable as a straight novel, rather than bringing in the historical perspective.
I don't know how others would feel about this book because it is also really heavy in cello and music background. Perfect for me, I don't know if it would be interesting to anyone not involved in music. The aspect comparing music with current e
...more
Amy Cousins
Dec 27, 2013 Amy Cousins rated it really liked it
Very loosely based (very) on the life of Pablo Casals, this book is a moving meditation on the nature of art in the world, questioning whether or not art does indeed have power to change the world, what an artist's responsibilities are, whether sometimes the more powerful choice is not to create at all. If you have a classical music collection that includes Bach's cello suites, Elgar's cello concerto, Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain and other such things, it's absolutely ...more
Jessica
Dec 07, 2010 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read anything like this in quite a long time. The thing with well-researched novels is that you tend to forget that they're just fiction. Spain is one of my favorite European countries, so you can just imagine my happiness reading about how it was in the olden days - specifically during the Spanish civil war and the World War II. The cameo appearances of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Picasso, and King Alfonso of Spain make this novel all the more interesting. You should read this book, I ...more
Gloria
Jun 18, 2008 Gloria rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, learning about that particular time period, and becoming intrigued to learn more about Casals, in particular. I was also amused when I realized i was struggling with similar bowing or technical exercises that were assigned to the protagonist in the earlier part o the story.

The book does raise the question about the place of the arts in society in a time of turmoil, and does it quite well, without completely beating it over the reader's head. And it shows well human failings.
...more
Summer
Jan 03, 2014 Summer rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

I didn't think I was going to like this book at first but by the end I was crying.

Spain. Music. Violin. Cello. Feliu Delargo. Madrid. Justo Al-Cerraz. Aviva. Civil War. Franco. Torro. WWII. Hitler. Cuba. Picasso. Alhambra.

If these words aren't sufficient to peak your interest in the book, know that Andromeda 'composes' a deeply layered story of love, that 'crescendos' leaving you hearing a beautiful, tragic, moving, symphonic piece of literature of Spain and Europe that haunts you by
...more
Sarah
Jul 14, 2008 Sarah rated it it was ok
Recommended to Sarah by: Ralph
This book was okay. I felt like it was rolling along pretty nicely for the first 100 pages or so -- and then it took about 180 degree turn and was a different book altogether. It morphed from a fictional story into a historical account of Spain around WW2 (although still fictional). I didn't really understand the point of certain characters or part of the story - they didn't fit well together. If you're on a backpacking trip and find this book in a hut for free then it's okay - but I wouldn't ...more
Kathie
Apr 10, 2016 Kathie rated it really liked it
Entertaining historical novel of Spain through its Civil War and the Franco years, as told by a cellist, a composite character based in part on the life of Pablo Casals. A good character study of how one decides what's important in life, how to follow one's heart and decide how to be true to oneself, especially in the light of challenging political times. A relevant tale for any times. Not only did I enjoy the story, it inspired me to listen to more cello music...Casals, Yo-Yo Ma, Bach suites, ...more
Linda
Dec 19, 2008 Linda rated it liked it
The beauty of a book club is reading novels you might never pick up on your own. This is one of those books. My buddy, Joyce Spring, is an authority on Spanish history, and this was her choice. Although this novel was long-winded, it was beautifully written. I learned tons and wanted to know more. My one complaint was whether the author wanted the book to be a history book OR a novel about human emotions. While I know it's possible to do both, she seemed to fumble around a bit. Bottom line, ...more
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Andromeda Romano-Lax worked as a freelance journalist and travel writer before turning to fiction. Her first novel, The Spanish Bow, was translated into eleven languages and was chosen as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, BookSense pick, and one of Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year. It was also a semi-finalist for the 2008 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Among her nonfiction works are a ...more
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“Since I was a very small boy, traveling from town to town, three hundred days a year, I learned to love this life. The cradlelike rock and sway of the train, the hospitality of our countrymen, the gentle hearts of our countrywomen. You will find that, as long as you keep moving, there is no end to the delights awaiting you. But you must keep moving, Feliu. Even when the heart skips; even when the view blurs.” 2 likes
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