The Spanish Bow

 

Andromeda’s debut novel, The Spanish Bow (Harcourt, 2007): an epic novel about the clash of artistic ideals and 20th century European politics, inspired by a love for Spain and classical music.

 
“I was almost born Happy.” So begins The Spanish Bow and the remarkable history of Feliu Delargo, who just misses being named “Feliz” by a misunderstanding at his birth, which he barely survives. The accidental bequest of a cello bow from his dead father sets Feliu on the course of becoming a musician, unlikely given his beginnings in a dusty village in Catalonia. When he is compelled to flee to anarchist Barcelona, his education in music, life, love, and politics begins.
 
The Spanish Bow is a haunting fugue of music, politics, and passion set against half a century of Spanish history, from the tail end of the nineteenth century up through the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Inspired by the life of Pablo Casals and with appearances by Pablo Picasso, Bertolt Brecht, and others who wrestled with the competing demands of art and conscience, The Spanish Bow is a deeply imagined tale of the passions that accident bestows– and the sacrifices history exacts.
 
Reviews for Andromeda’s debut novel, The Spanish Bow
 
One of the Best Books of 2007
Library Journal
 

Booksense Pick September 2007 and Highlight of 2007

Editors’ Choice, September 2007
“An impressive and richly atmospheric debut.”
New York Times Book Review

“Time and setting, character and plot come together in this exceptionally appealing first novel about a master cellist and his complicated relationship with the country of his birth and the poisoned times in which he performs. Readers will be captivated by this delightful book, loosely inspired by the life of the great cellist Pablo Casals.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Extraordinary, gripping … Encounters with actual world players, like Picasso, Adolf Hitler, Franco, Kurt Weill and others, constitute a feature of this many-favored book. Another is the author’s obvious love for Spain and its colorful cities, which are unforgettably detailed… In the end, The Spanish Bow suggests that fighting the manifest evil in the world can be even more damaging than tilting at windmills. And yet, and yet — there always remains the message and nobility of opposition in itself.”
BookPage

“…for sheer scope and ambition, this is a tough debut to beat.”
Publishers Weekly

“Expertly woven throughout the book are cameo appearances by Pablo Picasso, Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco, Bertolt Brecht, and others, but it is the fictional Feliu, Justo, and Aviva who will keep you mesmerized to the last page. ”
Christian Science Monitor

“Passionate, vivid, and engrossing, The Spanish Bow is profoundly human, a poignant history full of life and color.”
Hamilton Cheifetz, concert cellist and recording artist

“This riveting historical page-turner moves inexorably toward a heartrending crescendo.”
Booklist

“Andromeda Romano-Lax’s powerful first novel, The Spanish Bow, is an account of Spain during the years of 1890-1940, as experienced by a Catalan child prodigy who goes on to become court musician and then the country’s most celebrated cellist.  Epic in scale it is full of richly detailed tableaux of Catalonian peasant life, bohemian Barcelona, the chaos of the Second Republic, and the rise of Francoist fascism…The Spanish Bow…excels as a portrait of a country at a painful moment in its evolution.’ ”
Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Can art save us from ourselves? In her elegant debut, Romano-Lax ponders this timeless question through the ambitious tale of Feliu Delargo, a gifted cellist born in turn-of-the-century Spain.  … From the hypocrisies of the courts of Madrid to the terror of Nazi-occupied Paris, Romano-Lax weaves the upheavals of the first half of the 20th century into an elegy to the simultaneous power and impotency of art, and the contradictions of the human spirit. ”
Historical Novels Review

“…Vivid and absorbing. … Lively and well-written. … Romano-Lax’s passion for music is tangible but not daunting. The characters are convincing (Delargo and Al-Cerraz are based on historical figures) and by using Feliu’s voice along with her own narration, the author can point up the shortcomings in his self-understanding. She exposes the tension among the characters with masterly subtlety. ”
The Times (London)

“Andromeda Romano-Lax’s ambitious and atmospheric debut examines 50 years of Spanish history through the eyes of a fictional Catalan cellist, Feliu Delargo; en route she has much to say on the relationship between music and politics. ”
The Guardian (U.K.)

“(A) vast, inventive novel … It’s a pleasure to read popular fiction that is so interesting and instructive about music. ”
The Telegraph (U.K.)

“I love the way this sweeping, emotional juggernaut of a novel weaves historical fact with romantic fiction.”
Eve (U.K.)

“An inspired portrait of the cello virtuoso’s unique career.”
Elle (France)

“Can music transcend politics or must the musician’s only true response to authoritarianism be principled silence? This question is asked throughout Andromeda Romano-Lax’s ambitious debut, The Spanish Bow, a sweeping memoir of a fictional Spanish cellist, Feliu Delargo. His life, from his improverished upbringing in rural Catalonia, via apprenticeships in Barcelona and Madrid, to a glittering career as a European superstar, is the thread that leads us through Spanish political and musical history in the early 20th century.”
The Observer (U.K.)

One of the top 10 books to look for…
SPAIN Magazine (U.K.)

“Romano-Lax’s descriptions of music are beautifully rendered and tortured virtuoso Delargo provides plenty of food for thought about the purpose of music. ”
Metro (London)

“A well-crafted story of how music can inspire and break down any number of barriers — social, political and class … The colour in this story comes from a heady mix of the rich and famous whose paths cross that of Feliu’s during his musical career right through to the final years of his life in Cuba. Kings and queens, dictators, famous artists and musicians all come into contact with the son of a poor family who leaves an indelible mark on the lives of many because of his skills with the bow. ”
Western Mail (Wales)

“The book is almost dizzyingly episodic, but bound together by Feliu’s lifelong struggle with the question of the proper relationship between music and politics, a subject Romano-Lax handles with finesse. … A deft, inventive debut.”
Kirkus Reviews

“(Feliu Delargo’s) story and struggles to make music are for all of us who have a dream, a passion, yet don’t believe we have (or don’t have) talent and access. … The true lesson of the book is not how one should be an artist but how one can live one’s life. ”
Anchorage Daily News

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