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The Spanish Bow    by Andromeda Romano-Lax order for
Spanish Bow
by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

The Spanish Bow is a novel with many wonderful stories. First is the story of how the bow lands in the hands of a young, crippled boy, who with this gift, goes on to become a renowned cellist. Then there is the political history of Spain from 1892 to 1977. And finally, there is the story of three gifted musicians and how their lives intersected during this time.

Author Romano-Lax states in his Author's Note that the book is a collage. It started to be a bit like the life of Pablo Casals, a Spanish cellist who stood against fascism. But then it became larger as the author discovered the stories of other artists with their challenges and moral dilemmas. She writes that her novel's characters struggle with the following questions: 'Is this what I should be doing with my life? In difficult times, is art an indulgence or a necessity? Must I sacrifice my own happiness to what is going on around me?'

As the story unfolds, we learn about the unrest in Spain and about how different life is in a village than in the palace of Madrid. We also learn how love among friends can be tricky. But it is the political situation that always comes to the fore. How should a famous performer take a stand? Is it acceptable to refuse to play? And finally, is it acceptable to lie to someone you love?

This is a very interesting first novel. For me it did not all come together, though the parts were captivating. I think the author should have thrown away her notes on all the real musicians she researched and then freely written the story of those three musicians in that time. This would have made the story more cohesive.

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