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Ellie and the Harpmaker – Hazel Prior

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★★★★ ½

“Christina, I’m totally in love,” I confided, “With the harp.”

It was completely and totally unexpected, but it happened.

One day Ellie wanders down a path she never has before and stumbles upon a wonderfully hidden secret.

A harp maker (Dan) lives in a beautiful old barn where he hand-carves harps of all sizes and shapes.

A while ago, Dan escaped from the modern world. He has always had troubles in social situations and the tranquility of his barn and surrounding woods helps him deal with life so much easier.

Inexplicably, he takes a liking to Ellie (in part due to her cherry-red socks) – and gifts her a small cherry-red harp.

While she is overjoyed at first, she soon realizes that her husband may have an issue with this.

Her husband, the breadwinner, has a very specific mindset on how his housewife should behave…and accepting harps from strangers does not fulfill his expectations.

“No, I think I’ll leave it to you. If I go with you it might look as if I forced you to take it back…you go, hon, and don’t forget to make it clear it’s your choice.”

But when Ellie tries to return it, Dan instead offers her a place to learn to play.

And soon their quiet friendship blossoms. Dan often finds himself looking forward to her appearances and she finds herself looking forward more and more to her visits.

Dan is unlike anyone she’s ever met – his sweet and uncomplicated reactions come as a welcome relief from her everyday life.

I thank her profusely. I was very enthusiastic because nobody has ever, ever given me seven jars of jam before. Let alone ones with checked blue-and-white hats.

And the more Ellie visits, the more she doesn’t want to go.

…I’m happily married, aren’t I?
Of course I am.
I clutch my husband’s arm.

The longer she continues her visits, the better she plays but the more lies she needs to spend to keep her husband’s suspicions at bay.

There’s just no way he’d believe that she was actually trying to learn the harp (even though it is the truth)…and there’s also no way she can keep a secret like this forever.

I’ve pulled myself loose from my rock, but now I’m floating with the tides and I’ve got no idea where I’ll end up.

Ahhh, my heart is too full.

This was such a sweet and unconventional book – I adored Ellie and Dan, and I loved the way their friendship grew over the book.

So many books rush right into the romance and neglect the relationship but Prior balanced that beautifully.

Dan’s voice was unexpectedly endearing – he clearly looked at life through a completely unique perspective and I adored whenever the book swapped to him. His gentle and simple outlook took a hold of my heart from the very beginning.

Ellie’s perspective was also well-done, though her blinders when it came to her husband frustrated me (and not in a good way).

I wish the author had shown a few flashbacks so we could get a better idea of how those blind spots came to be in order to make her reactions feel a bit more realistic.

Her inner voice did sometimes stray a little too close to Dan’s and I would have appreciated her voice being a little more distinct but perhaps that was how the author wanted to show that Ellie and Dan would click well together.

I loved how the author’s love for harps was shown through in the book – I never would have guessed I would become so invested in the livelihood of a harp carver.

All in all – I really enjoyed my time between these pages – I’m going to have to watch for more books by this author!!

With thanks to the author and Berkley Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

All quotes come from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication

Interested in this one from Hazel Prior? Buy it here:  Amazon

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