Book Review: The Bells, by Richard Harvell

The BellsWell, my mom’s book club has done it again – they picked a winner! I’m not used to getting book suggestions from my mom – it’s usually me who is suggesting ideas for her to read – but having burned thru a huge list of books I’ve been dying to read, she mentioned that they just finished a true page-turner. And it did not disappoint!

The Bells, by Richard Harvell, is a treasure-trove of images and SOUNDS!!!!!!! Beautifully delivered in his debut novel, Harvell takes us on a journey along side Moses Froben.

Froben, born to a deaf-mute in a mountain-top village in the Swiss Alps, has a preternatural ear. Growing up in the bell-tower of a church, he has fine-tuned his ears to hear not only sounds, but non-sounds. He can feel vibrations and convert those to sounds. And, having to learn “language” from the world around him (instead of his mother), he also learns how to mimic those sounds and create his own music.

Unfortunately and fortunately, his supreme audial capabilities make him a threat to the corrupt church on the mountain. Thrown, quite literally, from the church village, he is rescued by two monks – who like Froben – are DIFFERENT. They bring him to the monastery from which they hail and it is there that Froben’s voice is nurtured and developed.

Based loosely on the story of Orpheus and Euridyce, the novel evolves into a love story, where music and sound are the vehicles for both opportunity and misfortune. Froben, who’s voice is beautiful beyond words as a child, is turned into a musico – a castrate – in order to preserve that voice.

A stunning tale of love, music, history and mythology, this book challenges what we know and what we want to know. For those readers who can truly FEEL a novel – feel the emotion conveyed by the author with each word written – this is a MUST read. For those of you who also can feel the emotion provoked by music – welcome to heaven.

Emotion and love, fear and passion, excitement and frustration ring true in every word on the page.

Rachael’s Grade

Writing: A

Character Development: A+

Plot: A

Catch an interview with Richard Harvell here: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2010-09-14/richard-harvell-bells

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