Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publishing Date: 2nd May 2019
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 284
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Meet Ellie. She’s perfectly happy with her home and her husband and her quiet life. Happy enough, anyway. Which is why she’s so surprised to find herself drawn to an extraordinary stranger who gives her a gift – and a fresh perspective.
Meet Dan. He thinks that all he needs to be content is the time and space to carry on making harps. But the last thing he expects is for Ellie – and her cherry-coloured socks – to whirl into his life, bringing a string of surprises to his ordered existence.
Sometimes it takes a chance encounter to discover what your life can be . . .
This heart-warming, funny and quirky love story features…
27 birch trees,
a 17-step staircase,
and a pheasant named Phineas
… and will stay with you long after you finish the last page.
On the surface, Ellie seems to be happy with her life as Clive’s wife, an Exmoor housewife, as she describes herself. But Ellie wants more – from life, she wants to write poetry, she wants to feel the gentle wind on her face, she wants to contemplate the beauty of Exmoor Country. When she meets the harpmaker Dan, she fells in love with his workshop and his harps and his life attitude. Dan, on the other hand, also notices something in Ellie – and not only her cherry socks but her vulnerability, sadness and openness, and offers her not only triangle sandwiches, but also a harp of her own. But this is too extravagant a gift for Ellie’s husband Clive and he makes Ellie sent the gift back to Dan. Ellie does it – but she also let Dan to convince her to start to visit him more often and to learn play the harp – because it is her harp. This is the beginning of the changes in both of their lives – but for better or worse?
I think that it was already said in many reviews but I must repeat it – the writing style is beautiful and it feels so lyrical. This book is full of descriptions – of the setting, characters, feelings and thoughts, and when sometimes it’s annoying because you wait for something to happen, in this book it simply works brilliantly, it flows seamlessly and effortlessly and it’s a pure joy to read.
Dan was a great character and the parts told from his point of view were incredibly insightful and full of honesty, and they felt really genuine. I liked seeing world through his eyes, it was so pure and so true, everything was so evident to him but his appreciation of the surroundings and events was fantastic. How many people could appreciate a simple walk through Exmoor the way he appreciated his? It was brought to life by the author so vividly that I could see the things almost as well as if I were there with Dan. He noticed things that we wouldn’t pay attention to and it was a real joy to be able to see them with him.
Now, Ellie. She was a lovely character, full of kindness in her heart and she wanted only good things to happen. However, the more I got to know her, the more she annoyed me. She was so naive and so clingy and I couldn’t stand her way around her husband. I’m sorry, but this is how I felt. I simply fell for her so much that I didn’t want to see her like this – she was blossoming around Dan and she was so sad and fearful around her husband, and I hoped throughout the whole book that something is going to change for her.
The friendship between Dan and Ellie was one of the best friendships ever written, I think. They both found support in each other, they felt so secure in each other’s company, and it was pure, raw and real. It was also innocent and… well, yes – sweet. And unexpected – who would have thought that a lonely housewife and an introvert Dan would become such soul – mates? It was so lovely to see how those two, not expecting it, only realised what is missing in their lives when they got to know each other. Dan introduced Ellie to harps and music, and Ellie has given him something priceless.
The descriptions of the harp – making and what it involved were an art of their own. You could see how much research went into the book. And guys, the author has so wonderfully brought music to the pages, with every fingertip and hand move, the unique angelic sounds of the harp.
It was a very unexpected love story, a very special one, with special characters that I rooted for. There were tons of depth and meaning to this story, and I loved it. It was a heartfelt, poignant and beautiful story about friendship and love, showing that even if we’re not looking for them, we can find them in the most unlikely places. Highly recommended!
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