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"The Flamenco Academy"

"The Flamenco Academy" [Kindle Edition]

Sarah Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

“Bird captures the staccato passion of flamenco in a rapturous love triangle.” –People Magazine Page Turners
“The stuff bestsellers are made of . . . funny and beautifully structured to create anticipation and suspense, with lush moments of romance ...”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review) .
" A heady brew of a novel, lushly romantic at one turn, wryly and wittily observant at the next.”
–Houston Chronicle
"The pulse and passion of flamenco take center stage in Sarah Bird's ambitious sixth novel. It's a tale of love and longing and transformation, one the gypsies who created the dance form centuries ago would surely understand.
"Bird has done her research, and everything from the folklore to the footwork of flamenco is on display here. It's against this backdrop that lonely Cindy Rae falls obsessively in love with Tomas Montenegro. He's a gorgeous guitarist whose physical beauty is exceeded only -- and just barely -- by his artistry."
-Veronique de Turenne, NPR

From the author of the widely praised "The Yokota Officers Club," a superbly alive novel about two young American women caught up in the fevered excitement of the flamenco revival sweeping the Southwest.
The place is Albuquerque. Cyndi Rae Hrncir, called Rae, seventeen and shy, is twice spellbound, first by high school bad girl Didi (“Dirty Deeds”) Steinberg, already embarked on a search for stardom, then by a devastatingly handsome young flamenco guitarist, Tomás Montenegro. Soon the girls are in college, where they abandon themselves to the disciplines and demands of the university’s flamenco academy and to the hypnotic storytelling of their teacher, Doña Carlota, Tomás’s great-aunt. While never losing the insistent beat of the dance, Doña Carlota mesmerizes her students with the complexly embroidered story of her childhood growing up among the cave-dwelling Gypsies of Andalusia. She initiates them into the traditions, the rhythms, and the steps of flamenco puro, with its central imperative: “Dame la verdad”—Give me the truth.

Locked in a volatile triangle and driven by obsession—Didi’s with stardom, Rae’s with Tomás, Tomás’s with his mysterious heritage—these three emerge as the brightest stars on the New World flamenco scene, while secrets and desires, longings and betrayals pulse just beneath the glittering surface of their compelling performances.

A sense of passion and danger has always surrounded flamenco. In The Flamenco Academy, Sarah Bird delivers a novel with a sense of history and character that matches the drama of the dance it so brilliantly celebrates.

“The Flamenco Academy opens so boldly . . . that you have to wonder how [Sarah] Bird can sustain such high drama. But it quickly becomes apparent that she’s mapped her novel’s treacherous terrain and planned accordingly, building characters sturdy enough to stand firmly, even when their emotions are spinning out of control.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“A deft exploration of love, desire and jealousy told against the backdrop of that most complex of dances, flamenco.”
–Baltimore Sun
"Sarah Bird brings humor and authenticity to her sixth novel, the story of two teenagers struggling to adapt to life's unexpected twists and turns...She writes beautifully about the art of flamenco, Gypsy culture and Spanish history."
-BookPage Notable Title

"Good conflict makes good fiction, and that's what gives ``The
Flamenco Academy'' such irresistible energy and narrative drive. And
what really makes the novel more than just an exceptional summer read is
Bird's wonderful ability to create a milieu, from the Albuquerque
prowled by teenage girls to the Spanish caves inhabited by Gypsies. Best
of all, she gives us the complex lore and intricacies of flamenco, which
Didi -- always one to get the last word -- describes as
``obsessive-compulsive disorder set to a great beat.''
-San Jose Mercury News

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 725 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345462386
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476099413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476099415
  • ASIN: B008K519WK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #389,403 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 4 Mar 2011
This is in my top 10 books of all time. A classic! I was unable to put it down. Could be an amazing film. I never usually bother to write reviews but I think this is so great I had to. A great way to learn about flamenco, the author knows here stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to come under its spell... 6 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Even if flamenco is just something you saw ten years ago on holiday, you'll come under its spell soon after you start reading this beautifully written novel. But there's also something for everyone here: the heartfelt and often funny coming-of-age story, the painstakingly researched historical drama of the flamenco teacher's past, romance with all the tightly held passion of the dance itself...

Definitely among my Top Twenty favourite novels. Ole!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to come under its spell... 6 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Even if flamenco is just something you saw ten years ago on holiday, you'll come under its spell soon after you start reading this beautifully written novel. But there's also something for everyone here: the heartfelt and often funny coming-of-age story, the painstakingly researched historical drama of the flamenco teacher's past, romance with all the tightly held passion of the dance itself...

Definitely among my Top Twenty favourite novels. Ole!
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Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars I found this book a bit slow to start, ... 12 Dec 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book a bit slow to start, but once I understood the whole background to the plot - I almost 'lived' the depths of flamingo and the characters involved. A worthy read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  51 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over, Carmen--no mere chick-lit here! 7 Jun 2006
By Carol Dawson - Published on
Not since Prosper Merimee has any novelist even begun to do justice to the world of flamenco, gypsies, and obsession with the passionate perfection that Sarah Bird applies to it here. This book, a beautifully truthful study of a skewed pairing and an entire way of being, brings both Merimee's Seville and his multiple themes into the new world and the present day, and only gains resonance and depth in the process. Instead of a smitten Don Jose, we have a poignant young woman who longs for her gypsy lover as much as she longs for the flamenco rhythms driving her heartbeat; instead of Carmen's betrayal, we have the duplicity of a painful friendship; instead of romantic Seville, we get both twentieth-century Spain AND contemporary Albuquerque. This brilliantly imagined, deeply felt, and well-crafted novel should be tops on everyone's summer reading list.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beating Hearts 7 Jun 2006
By Glenn W. Smith - Published on
To do "The Flamenco Academy" justice one should dance a review, not write it. Not "one" as in me, because I can't dance. Sarah Bird's book deserves a more perfect homage than I can write, much less perform en compás, so to speak.

This is a book about obsession, sex, flamenco, gypsies, art, celebrity, broken families, the Spanish Civil War, and contemporary American life with all its brutal selfishness and redemptive possibilities of freedom. Most of all, like all great stories, it is about -- it lives in and is written from -- the human, all too human heart.

It's a romance, but it's a postmodern romance. That is, "Flamenco" is about anything but escape. It follows the first commandment of flamenco puro: give me the truth. I ached for young Rae, the Albuquerque teenage girl who falls deeply in love with the tortured musical prodigy, Tomás, after a single magical (and chaste) encounter. Hell, I ached for Tomás, too, and Didi, Rae's narcissistic friend. (Didi deserves a new literary category, neither protagonist nor two-dimensional antagonist, but, maybe, pantagonist.)

I was captivated by the cave-dwelling gypsies of the tales within the tale. They are ugly, earthy, carnal, lice-ridden angels who, perversly, remain pariahs and enemies-of-states because of their fierce beauty. Then there is Federico García Lorca, the martyred Spanish poet whose cameo in the book is written with a touch the poet himself would have admired.

Bird writes with a thoroughly contemporary sensibility. This is a romance, but it's not retro. Its daring reminds me of G.B. Edwards' "Book of Ebenezer LePage", which is handy, because the late novelist John Fowles described Edwards' book in words that fit Bird's accomplishment very well. Edwards' book risked "things that no trend-conscious novelist today would care to risk his reputation on, just as in some ways it had to stay resolutely old-fashioned and simple-tongued." Edwards' book was "an act of courage," Fowles said, and that's exactly what I think of Bird's "Flamenco Academy".

This book makes me want to dance.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The words are as zapateado 15 July 2006
By Dr. Lee D. Carlson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Can one find in modern literature a character that has mathematics, love, and dance all packaged into one? In this story there is such a character, Cyndi Rae Hrncir, who traces out her worldline in Albuquerque, New Mexico, home of the `Flamenco Academy.' Sometimes this worldline is a random walk, and sometimes it is subjected to the strong perturbations of her "friend" Didi, but it also, and most delightfully, patterns itself to the staccato rhythms of flamenco, a dance that takes full advantage of gravity and acoustics, demanding attention from its audience, and an abundance of perspiration and bunions from its dancers.

Flamenco was to Rae at first a practical tool, a means to an end, a methodology by which she could get into the arms and bed of Tomas Montenegro, a handsome young guitarist, who holds Rae under a spell from the first night she sees him. But unwittingly, but totally expected from anyone who engages in the vertical movements of horizontal desire that is dance, Rae falls under the greater spell of flamenco, and this sustains her throughout the extreme tensions she experiences with her "friend" Didi.

But flamenco is more than a mental catharsis. It has a philosophy, history, and ethic. Rae's flamenco teachers, musicians, and historians explain to Rae throughout the story that its history is intertwined with the wanderings of Gypsies, and the brutalities of Franco Spain. Tomas defined flamenco as `tragedy in the first person'; Dona Carlota as "give me the truth" (dame la verdad). At any cost the dancer and accompanying guitarist must engage in a symbiosis of `flamenco puro.' And it must be held as axiomatic that flamenco cannot be learned. It must be lived.

And indeed Rae did live, and superbly so. In spite of her temporary turmoil, she recovered. Dancers are good at that. They are trained to gracefully recover from a fall. With her life being a combination of mathematics, love, and dance, Rae achieved the Aristotelian eudaemonia; the Csikszentmihalyi flow; the flamenco enterao.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Andale, Andale, Andale!!! 6 Sep 2007
By Cindy W. Bonner - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought I knew what flamenco was: women dancers in gaudy ruffled dresses, spit-curled hair, with clicking castanets, and men in close-fitting jumpsuits stomp-dancing theatrically around each other, an "Andale" thrown in here and there for good measure. After reading "The Flamenco Academy" by Austin writer Sarah Bird, I find I knew nothing at all.

Flamenco is a world unto itself, a cult, certainly a religion of sorts, where the dancers, the guitarists, and the singers are seeking purity and perfection, "flamenco puro."

The novel begins like any other coming-of-age story, two misfit girls finding each other when both their fathers die of cancer. Didi is the wild, plucky tramp, chasing after rock bands, while Rae, the narrator of the novel as well as the nerdy math wizard, follows in Didi's shadows. At one of Didi's groupie parties, Rae meets the enigmatic and fiercely handsome, Tomas Montenegro, flamenco guitarist extraordinaire.

After Tomas has disappeared from her life, Rae becomes obsessed with flamenco. For years she studies the dance, learns the music and the culture, in an effort to become the woman she thinks Tomas will love -- when and if she finds him again. Ultimately, she does.

With the introduction of Dona Carlota, the steely, "gypsy-on-four-sides" dance teacher, the novel takes flight. Dona Carlota, who happens to be Tomas Montenegro's aunt, tells fantastical stories as she teaches her students, of the cave-dwelling gypsies of Granada, of the heavy-handed Generalissimo Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, of the poet and flamenco aficionado Frederico Garcia Lorca.

Dona Carlotta's stories have a mystical quality and comprise most of the middle, and the best parts, of the novel. It is through her stories that the reader begins to understand the passion of flamenco, and to grasp its seductiveness.

Writers don't much like to have their work compared to other writers, or even to their own earlier works. Sarah Bird's previous novels and the characters in them have often been wry and humorous. "The Flamenco Academy" is a departure. There is very little humor here.

Instead there are splendid scenes of explosive dance, the heels on the shoes "aiming for a place one inch beneath the floor," hammering ancient dust from the wooden planks. And there is the drama of the guitarist's long-nailed, sensuous fingers plucking the music from his instrument, and the "wailing, warbling, sobbing" voice of the singer echoing off the walls.

All this is accomplished with a beguiling ease and artistry that drives the narrative even more than the story of love and hate, betrayal and deception. Sarah Bird has recreated the flamenco world and she pulls her reader into it with a clever hand.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bird delivers 'la verdad' 25 Jun 2006
By KayGee - Published on
Sarah Bird's follow up book to "The Yokota Officers' Club" is beautiful, moving, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful.

Continuing to explore the "motherless children" theme she visited in "Yokota," she crafts a story with settings and characters that are both familiar and exotic. I was delighted to pick up my copy while on vacation -- not to imply that this is in any way a beach book; it's much too dark for that. It did, however, keep me riveted, despite the lure of the beach and the tchotchke shops.

We see the story through the eyes of Rae, who shares the stories of her flamenco teacher, Dona Carlota, weaving the violent and secretive history of flamenco through Rae's own tumultuous life.

At the risk of writing a spoiler, I'll say that one of my (many) favorite things about the book is the way it ends, with Rae beginning to live her own life, rather than being a supporting character to someone else's story.

What are you planning next, Ms. Bird? I'll be waiting!
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