For your pleasure, the first lines of The Spanish Bow (Harcourt, September 2007), the ambitious debut novel by Alaska resident Andromeda Romano-Lax. Set between 1892-1940 and alighting on France, Spain and Germany, The Spanish Bow explores art’s influence on the destiny of men and nations as begun with the gift of a cello bow.

“I was almost born Happy.

“Literally, Feliz was the Spanish name my mother wanted for me. Not a family name, not a local name, just a hope, stated in the farthest-reaching language she knew–a language that once reached around the world, to the Netherlands, Africa, the Americas, the Philippines. Only music has reached farther and penetrated more deeply.

“I say ‘almost born Feliz’ because the name that attached itself to me instead, thanks to a sloppy bureaucrat’s bias toward Catalan saints’ names, was Feliu. Just one letter changed on my death–yes, death–certificate.”