The Flamenco Academy
By Sarah Bird
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9781400040841, 400pp.)
Publication Date: June 6, 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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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.
Sarah Bird is the author of five previous novels: The Yokota Officers Club, Virgin of the Rodeo, The Mommy Club, The Boyfriend School, and Alamo House. She is a columnist for the Texas Monthly and has written for The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, O Magazine, Glamour, and Mademoiselle, among other publications. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, George, and son, Gabriel.
“More than a summer romance . . . The Flamenco Academy is a deft exploration of love, desire and jealousy told against the backdrop of that most complex of dances, flamenco.”
—The Baltimore Sun
“A compelling story brimming with the history and rhythm of flamenco . . . Bird’s tale of romance and betrayal evokes the passion of flamenco itself.”
“A heady brew of a novel, lushly romantic at one turn, wryly and wittily observant at the next.”
—San Jose Mercury News
“Stunning and ambitious, a tale of obsession and, yes, gypsies . . . Bird’s travelogue to the little-known universe of flamenco puro and its cantaores (singers), tocaores (guitarists), and flamencas (dancers) is enthralling.”
“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 American Statesman
“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.”
—The Austin Chronicle
“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.”
—Santa Fe Reporter