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.
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).
The Austin American Statesman
If you want a good, solid summer romp, Sarah Bird’s The Flamenco Academy ought to be way up there on your reading list.
The Austin Chronicle
In the monolithic culture of flamenco, Bird finds a remarkable landscape for transforming the inaccessible whims of an obsessive, lonely teenager into the epic saga of self-acceptance, loyalty and love to which no one is immune.
Santa Fe Reporter
Fascinating . . .A tale of friendship and betrayal with powerful glimpses into the legacy of flamenco, its mysteries and power . . . After reading The Flamenco Academy, it may be impossible to ever think of the art of flamenco in the same way.
A story brimming with romance and visceral details of flamenco, its music and its history.
Funny and beautifully structured...with lush moments of romance and a surprisingly sturdy backbone.
Booklist - Elizabeth Dickie
The passion of the dance and Carlota's stories fill the center of the novel...hers is a voice that will resonate like a fine guitar
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by SAM Treacherous and Tedious Disappointing doesn't begin to describe how trite this book is. Or how the main characters shouldn't be the main characters. Or how disrespectful the author is to the reader.
Gosh, does one woman really betray another over a man? Wouldn't... Read More
Rated of 5
by Palomara Disappointing. I was very excited when I started reading the book. The description of the dancing and the rhythm. Her words were so melodic and beautiful.
Unfortunately, when I got to the Spanish dialogues... it was incredibly disappointing to see how little... Read More
Rated of 5
by bks r life Ole! Ole! A member of my book club has studied flamenco dancing and suggested this book. It was a great choice. We had one of our best discussions ever. It ranged from the nature of friendship to the role of art to every "bad boy" boyfriend we've ever... Read More
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 for
Muslims living in Spain and North
Africa) had been occupying Spain for 800
years. Shortly after, towards the
end of the 15th century, the Moors were
ousted by Isabella of Castile and
Ferdinand of Aragon, sometimes known as...
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