Carol's Reviews > The Spanish Bow

The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
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's review
May 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, historical-fiction, travel, spanish-literature, literature
Read in May, 2012

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 there to pick up a package of items left by his father, killed in Cuba. He is told to choose an item belonging to his father. He chooses from the box of items a cello bow which fascinates him. Feliu longs to learn to play the cello but must be content with the violin and later the piano. It is years later through great sacrifices of his mother, before he is able to pair the bow with a cello and learn to play the instrument. Through the years of turmoil in Spain, of civil wars and World Wars, he masters the cello and travels and plays at first for the royal family of Spain and later all over Europe, traveling with two other players, Justo Al-Cerraz a loud brash pianist and Aviva, a haunted Italian violinist. The trio go from success to poverty to bickering and splitting up and going separate ways and later meeting again to try to escape war and tragedy.

A grim yet engaging epic filled with fiery politics which the central character Feliu does his best to ignore until it touches him personally. The book is filled with the names and compositions of great composers of the time and the history that influences their music. (It makes me sad that I live in a time of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.) Feliu shows restraint all his life. He shows restraint with his love for Aviva who he worries about. Aviva is haunted by her past and has self destructive behavior that Feliu and Justo can not comprehend.The reader has a view of Feliu's entire life and it is when Feliu is well into middle age that he reflect and realizes that he has become all that he will be, no greater and no way to change mistakes of the past. Perhaps the restraint is not so much a virtue after all as he does miss out on a lot of opportunities in his life. An excellent read that does not disappoint but takes some patience. The characters while never dull, don't always make you want to jump up and down. The tension at the end of the book made me want to pull my hair out. You know there is something bad coming but you just do not know what it is. Ay, caramba!
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