Today I am marking off my ninth #9 checkpoint category for the POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020 with:
Meet Ellie. She’s perfectly happy living her quiet life with her husband, Clive. Happy to wander the Exmoor countryside and write the occasional poem that nobody will read; happy to dream of all the things she hasn’t yet managed to do. Or is she?
Meet Dan. He thinks all he needs is the time and space to make harps in his isolated barn on Exmoor. He enjoys being on his own, far away from other people and – crucially – far away from any risk of surprises.
What Ellie and Dan don’t know yet, is that a chance encounter is about to change all of this.
Debut author Hazel Prior has drawn from her work as a freelance harpist to pen her first novel, Ellie and the Harpmaker. The story of a a talented harpmaker, a lonely housewife, a fateful connection, a deep friendship and blossoming love defines Prior’s composition. This slow burn and heartwarming romance, with a music twist, will be sure to hit the right note with contemporary romance fans.
Hazel Prior’s debut features two leads, Ellie and Dan. Ellie is a homemaker, trapped in a loveless and controlling marriage to her husband Clive. She stumbles across Dan, a recluse and a talented harp maker who extends the hand of kindness by gifting Ellie a harp. Dan is a man who is forever changed by Ellie’s presence in his private and carefully ordered life. Dan is drawn to Ellie and through the bond he develops with her, Dan attains greater meaning in his life. Ellie and the Harpmaker is a gentle tale of friendship, love, kindness, music, poetry and above all, life.
If feel good and life affirming fiction is what you need right now, I can easily recommend Ellie and the Harpmaker. This is an engaging debut about the power of friendship, altruism, chance and love. Underscored by the influence of music, with a specific focus on harps, this contemporary romance title is a little different from the standard fare on offer in the romance genre.
Ellie and the Harpmaker is formatted by a shifting style of narration, which switches between the leads, Ellie and Dan. We form a strong picture of these genuine leads. Each has their own quirks, flaws and assets, as well as an interesting back story. The supporting cast rounds off the novel nicely. By far my favourite was a Phineas, a pheasant with a big personality, who also features on the delightful front cover of this book.
There is a great British rom com feeling to this novel and I think it would definitely make the cut if film rights were secured for this book. I enjoyed taking a stroll through the British countryside, thanks to Prior’s descriptive prose. It was nice to pay a visit to the area of Exmoor, which presents itself beautifully on the pages of the novel.
The presence of harps and the craftsmanship involved in the production of harps, which is Dan’s profession, looms large in this novel. I found this aspect of the text the most enlightening. I liked how the harp played a pivotal role in bringing two lost and lonely souls together. This is not a straightforward romance, there are twists and obstacles to overcome, along with a serious glimpse into domestic issues.
Ellie and the Harpmaker is a thoughtful and sweet story about a surprising attachment, sparked by an act of sheer kindness. Hazel Prior’s first book is a mostly charming story, that didn’t quite go the distance for me personally, but I’m happy to recommend it to contemporary romance readers.
*** 3 stars
Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior was published on May 17th 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Ellie and the Harpmaker, Hazel Prior, visit here.