The Spanish Bow, Andromeda Romano-Lax, Harcourt Inc, 2007, 547 pp
This first novel came in as an Advance Reader Copy. I liked it so much I convinced the owner to order it for the store.
The main character is Spanish, born in the early 1900s near Barcelona. Though he is poor, he grows up to be a famous cello virtuoso. As the novel follows his life, you also get a history of Spain in the first half of the 20th century. I learned the most about that country that I have ever learned and added to what I knew from For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway and from one of the Lanny Budd books by Upton Sinclair.
The cellist is loosely based on Pablo Casals though it is completely fiction. He has a musical partner, a pianist, who comes in and out of his life. I loved the way the author showed this relationship: they were in complete accord whenever they were playing music but were so different as personalities and politically that their association was often painful and torturous. Isn't that just the way it is with musicians?
The story also explores the question of what use is art in times of war and political upheaval. The power of music to uplift people is beautifully evoked and the power of war to break an artist's spirit is horrifically shown.
Not a page turner and a bit pedantic in writing style but a fine story not often told. I cannot dislike a book about musicians.