Denise's Reviews > The Spanish Bow

The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
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's review
Aug 15, 2008

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 well as his fellow musicians, one of whom is a celebrated pianist.

The story is set in Spain, so there is a focus on Spanish music and history, but the characters are classically trained and travel all over Europe, so a variety of real historical figures make appearances in the novel. Picasso, Mahler, Monet, Stravinsky. Hitler, Mussolini, Franco. It is a time of upheaval, both in politics and in the arts.

In theory, this book should be right up my alley. But for some reason, I found myself putting it down frequently, taking forever to get through it. It just didn't grab me. Maybe it's because, interspersed with the inspiring music, the rest of the story was downright depressing. Poverty and wars and disloyalty and depravity and constant struggling. Even when the characters are successful, they aren't happy. There's no light. Every story line that seems hopeful ultimately ends in more sadness. It's gloomy. Yes, I loved the musical aspect, but in my life, music is a good thing, a hopeful thing. I don't want to associate it with such a dreary story.
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