I realise that Summer is nearly over, but I have just finished this delightful novel, Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior. A definite one to buy for the staycation or vacation.
It is a love story between two gentle characters. Both trying to find peace in this ever-changing world.
The novel is set on Exmoor, with its beauty and peace contributing to the backdrop of the story.
Dan is a harp maker, slightly on the Autistic spectrum. He carves out of all the different local trees the most beautiful harps. He puts into his harps what he can’t express in words. But, he is happy just to work, make sandwiches and walk with nature.
Ellie is a woman in her thirties married to Clive. Clive, on the surface, is charming, caring and attentive. But Clive is a typical gaslighter, manipulating Ellie into believing that she is content and has no need to follow her love of music and poetry. He can make Ellie believe that she is making decisions for herself, but in fact, he is only interested in pleasing himself.
Ellie, while on a walk on the anniversary of her Father’s death, drops into Dan’s workshop. Dan ends up giving her a harp. She takes it home only to be told by Clive to return it and not to go back there again. Dan says he won’t take it back but instead puts it in an upstairs room and tells Ellie she can come back and play it anytime.
The novel then becomes a story of secrets and fears that come about when trying to pursue what one really wants.
Emotions are heightened, and jealousy and anger threaten to spoil what is slowly becoming a gentle and loving relationship.
There are twists and turns throughout, but the constant beauty of the countryside is always there, holding the story together. Hazel Prior’s beautifully descriptive writing brings everyone and everything together. Other characters do make an appearance, but the focus is on Ellie and Dan.
I loved this quirky novel and found it refreshing to read during these difficult and complicated times.