Wednesday, September 16, 2009

THE SPANISH BOW - Andromeda Romano Lax


Feliu was almost born Feliz, which means "happy" in Spanish. After the birth, he lay still and silent, so they began to fill out his death certificate. Due to a slight spelling error, his name was changed.

This signifies the theme of the novel: a slight change can have divining ripples throughout the rest of someone's life. For example, after his father's death, he received a bow without horsehair, too big for a violin, but how else could it be used? As a small child in rural Catalonia during the turn of the twentieth century, Feliu knew nothing about music until, by chance, he meets the famed pianist, Al-Cerraz. Through one note, Feliu is set upon a lifetime of learning the cello, a lifetime that includes historical appearances by King Alfonso and Queen Ena, as well as Picasso.

The author, a practiced cellist in her own right, pours her love for the instrument into this novel. As for the historical aspects, there are some tidbits that are stretched to fit the narrative. This never broke the spell for me of this fascinating world of music and artistry... at least, until the final chapter. Rather than continue with the wavering lines of fate, there is a loud splash of a giant rock thrown into the pool.

While the ending disappointed me, I still find myself reflecting on the other aspects of the novel and appreciate the dedication to historical aspects. When one can enjoy a piece of literature and learn from it, I believe it is worth a look.

3.75 out of 5.0 Spanish Super-Charged Coffees.

9 comments:

Diane said...

Chad...someone else also posted about this title recently as I jotted down the title. I liked your review; sorry the ending was a bit disappointing, but it still sounds like a worthwhile read.

Thanks

moonrat said...

I love this book--I got an advance reader's copy back at BEA in 2007, but have bought probably 15 or 20 copies for various friends since then. My favorite theme in the book is the strange and powerful friendship at the center. I'm glad you read it and enjoyed it!

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

It's always tough to decide on how good a book is when you enjoy it except for the ending. It sounds like you still enjoyed it as a whole, though.

moonrat said...

I definitely did. I don't want to leave any spoilers here in the comments, but there are some elements at the end that change a little bit from the rest of the plot--so I see where your opinion might come from--but for me it wasn't a problem. I also found that even two years after I read it I have a strong impression of the character and stories.

Lydia Sharp said...

Being a violinist who really wanted to be a cellist, the cover alone has me wanting to read it. The review is a bonus. Sounds intriguing. Adding it to my yet-2-B-read list.

moonrat said...

Lydia--that might be it! I was a violinist for many years. I think that's definitely the reason I picked up the book in the first place--maybe also why it resonated so much.

Lydia Sharp said...

Sweet. We have something else in common. I'm beginning to think you're my long-lost twin.
No, wait...never mind. You have grey fur. My bad.

Kristin Dodge said...

I was a violinist as a child but had to give it up when we moved, so I think that added to my interest, as well. The more that I think of it, the more that I believe it could only end sadly or strangely because of his success and the "Feliz" in the first chapter. Like, "I could have been happy" instead of "I could have been a contender."

Moonrat... I went back and read your review, which is much more thorough and recommended to all.

All of the descriptions reminded me of the almost religious practices of bow care. Rosining, cleaning, mending...

moonrat said...

hey! another violinist!!