The Spanish Bow

Written by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Review by Janet Hancock

Can art save us from ourselves? In her elegant debut, Ms. Romano-Lax ponders this timeless question through the ambitious tale of Feliu Delargo, a gifted cellist born in turn-of-the-century Spain who receives the unexpected gift of a bow from his dead father and sets himself on a resolute path to mastering his craft. His journey takes him from performing in rebellious Barcelona to Madrid and the confidences of the queen. His tumultuous partnership with flamboyant pianist Justo Al-Cerraz introduces Feliu to the rigors and joys of life as an itinerant musician as well as the eventual deception of fame. As civil war decimates his homeland and fascism spreads across Europe, Feliu finds himself increasingly conflicted over the relevance of music in a crumbling world—until he meets Aviva, an Italian violinist whose inexorable quest to redeem her past plunges Feliu into destructive rivalry and ultimate sacrifice.

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.