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 universitys flamenco academy and to the hypnotic storytelling of their teacher, Doña Carlota, Tomáss 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 verdadGive me the truth.
Locked in a volatile triangle and driven by obsessionDidis with stardom, Raes with Tomás, Tomáss with his mysterious heritagethese 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.
Flamenco has Ten Commandments. The first one is: Dame la verdad, Give me the
truth. The second is: Do it en compas, in time. The third one is: Don't
tell outsiders the rest of the commandments. I come here, to the edge of the
continent, to honor the first commandment, to give myself the truth.
Waves, sparkling with phosphorescence in the darkness, crash on the shore just beyond my safe square of blanket. I cup my chilly hands around a mug of tea that smells of oranges and clove and search for that first streak of salmon to crack the far horizon. There might be one or two early risers, insomniacs, troubled sleepers, who will see the light of a new day before me. But not many. I am alone with my tea and my thoughts.
The waves roll in all the way from Asia and slam against the shore. Their roar comforts me. It almost drowns out the sound of heels, a dozen, two dozen, pounding on a wooden floor, turning a dance studio into a factory manufacturing ...
What sets The Flamenco Academy above your average easy read is the irresistible drive and energy of the narrative, the rich settings and, of course, the history and intricacies of flamenco itself which, at one point, Didi describes as "obsessive-compulsive disorder set to a great beat"!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (493 words).
Flamenco, which can be divided
into cante ('the song'), baile ('the
dance') and guitarra ('guitar'), is the
traditional song and dance of the
Gypsies (flamencos) of Andalusia in
southern Spain. It is believed to have
developed over several centuries from
Gypsy, Moorish, Andalusian, and other
roots (probably including northern
India, as the gypsies were nomads
believed to have been from northern
The first documented arrival of the Roma people (often referred to as gypsies) in Spain was in 1447, at which time the Moors (a common Medieval term ...
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