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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Spanish Bow
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£8.98+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 21 October 2012
The premise of this tale is out of this world extraordinary - a musician in the Spain of the first forty years of the century and his survival. It has everything of whimsy and delight in terms of the subject and the characters and for that imagination alone - it is worth a read. It is something enjoyable.

But, oh dear - WHERE WAS THE EDITOR AGAIN - because what would have made this a five star book ( and nope, concept alone is not enough) is editing. It is just too long and we end up tuning page aftre page to hurry the story along. At some points it is plain dull. Did we really have to start at Feliu's birth? If we started with his work for the Queen we might have been captured from the start - but we plough over page after page. And I gave up a good 50 pages towards the end.

The period and the idea are outstanding and this should have been a 5 star book but the pace and plot just drags it down to a three.

Sadly, wanted to love this.
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on 22 July 2015
Great read. Hooked from the first page.
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on 14 September 2010
It is a lovely book to read transporting you back in time. I Recommend it.
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on 23 April 2009
Some years ago, I read a newspaper review of a book that sounded like my sort of thing, and after reading it I was so impressed I told everyone I knew about it. That book was "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", and sure enough it went on to become a huge word-of-mouth success and a major film.

"The Spanish Bow" hit me the same way, and has many similarities. It features music and a love story in Mediterranean Europe during the political upheavals of the first half of the 20th Century. Like "Corelli", this is a gripping and superbly written narrative that sucks the reader in like few works of fiction can do. I bought it to take on a Spanish holiday, and was not too optimistic, having been desperately disappointed by the hugely overrated "Shadow of the Wind". But there is simply no comparison. This is a real unputdownable classic (incredibly, the author's first novel), and I can't recommend it enough. In the right hands (a Spanish production please, NOT Hollywood!) it could make a marvellous film.

So, I was quite surprised to come onto Amazon and find only one review! I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that we are merely the tip of the iceberg. If this isn't top of the year's bestseller's by Christmas, something is very wrong.

Apart from anything else, it will inspire you to listen to the great cello music (from Bach to Elgar and Dvorak), as it describes it so wonderfully.

Superb book, read it.
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on 5 May 2011
For the first part of this story, I couldn't put the book down. Feliu's early years had all the grittiness of a good autobiography - that "actually there" quality, of his awkward introduction to life and his determination to learn the cello against a Barcelona backdrop.
Then, for me, the middle became drier and lacking in atmosphere. One minute Feliu is living in poverty, the next he bumps into his old friend again and becomes a famous, successful cellist. Feliu's personality seems to disappear in a list of "we played here, then we played there," and "we met Elgar, then we met Falla". The violinist Aviva is introduced to the story, an unlikeable character that I could never fathom out. I found myself wishing there were some gratuitous sex to liven things up a bit.
I found the name-dropping to be as annoying as that in any interview. It felt contrived and the meeting with Picasso seemed totally unconvincing.
However, in this middle section, there are a few gems where the author's descriptions return to their earlier quality, such as the scene in the Alhambra Gardens, and the authenticity of Feliu's grief at not playing his cello.
The latter part of the book is about Feliu and Al-Cerraz trying to escape from war-torn France. Without giving anything away, the story gathers pace quickly and once again, the more rounded character of Feliu returns, and I couldn't put the book down until I'd finished it.
The story of Feliu, the author tells us, is loosely based on Pablo Casals. I think it would have been better to have explained this before the story, rather than after the end, because I think it explains some of the discrepancy in writing style which I couldn't put my finger on while reading it, until I'd read the author's note, ie. that some aspects seem so natural and others contrived.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I'm glad I ploughed on through the middle section.
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on 9 June 2009
I am amazed at how a book which heavily focuses on one man and his cello exploits can be so absorbing and thoroughly engrossing.

Be warned, you will not be able to put this book down once you have begun.

The book follows the life of Feliu Delargo from his humble beginnings in Campo Seco through his time at the Royal Palace in Madrid, through the Spanish Civil War and up to the Second World War.

The book is masterfully written, where one hardly realises you have read pages where musical techniques, expressions and descriptions have saturated the text.

The relationships between Feliu, Al-Cerraz and Aviva are beautifully described and give you a real sense of the struggles each of the artists faced when trying to survive in such difficult times.

The book is recommended for those interested in classical music and for those interested in the complex political situation in Spain from the end of the First World War up to the Second World War.

If you are looking for a good read and are unsure what to try next, buy this book, you won't regret it.
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on 18 April 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. I found it by chance at my local library and could not believe the find. I love the language used, I loved the way the story was written, interspersed with historical facts. I haven't found a book that has had me that engrossed in a long time and I commend the author on writing a novel, very much 'like they used to'. I cannot wait to read her new one
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