Saturday, July 28, 2007
THE SPANISH BOW is a truly rich and lovely debut novel about a Catalan cellist born at the turn of the 20th Century. Feliu Delargo, crippled at birth and raised in the impoverished wake of a fallen father, knows he is meant to play a cello the first time he hears one. The talented and unrelenting Feliu makes his way to Barcelona and then the royal palace before meeting his best friend and nemesis, a larger-than-life concert pianist and would-be composer who drags Feliu across Europe.
PW accuses Feliu of, essentially, being a Spanish Forrest Gump. And while this is true--he seems to have an uncanny knack for appearing in the right place at the right time for every major event in 20th century Spanish history to rub elbows with Queen Ena, Franco, Hoover, Hitler, Picasso, etc--Feliu is much more. His story is the winding tale of a lonely man who must negotiate his own rigorous ideas of right and wrong in a society where scruples are not rewarded.
The book is masterfully researched and leaves you fulfilled on many levels--yes, you'll learn all about Spain and its many pockets, about the civil war, about music and politics and history, but it's all disguised in a most beguiling pageant of unrequited love and complex and blighted friendship. Don't be put off by the length (it's 550 pages). The story flies by. Everyone should read this.