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The Spanish Bow

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  836 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
In a dusty, turn-of-the-century Catalan village, the bequest of a cello 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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Infused with music, history, art and some good writing there is much to commend this novel, but halfway through I felt that I was on a train to nowhere and not getting there anytime soon.

"Inspired by the bombing of Guernica, Picasso finished his mural a month later. It was a marvel: horses, bulls, bare cellars and bare light-bulbs, women with dying children in their arms—an abstract portrait of horror that filled an entire wall with its terrible shades of gray."

Guernica by Pablo Picass
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
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 the ...more
Nov 01, 2011 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
Dec 26, 2011 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 piani ...more
Book Concierge
Jul 31, 2012 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
Jun 09, 2008 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
Nov 21, 2010 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
Sep 25, 2012 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 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.
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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 do ...more
More about Andromeda Romano-Lax...
“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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