The Bells by Richard Harvell: Book Review

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Cover of The Bells by Richard Harvell

4 Stars

Moses Froben, an opera singer of world-renown, raised a son who could not possibly have been his own. When his son asked how they had come to be together, Moses would studiously avoid the question. On Moses’s death, however, his son found a memoir that told of Moses’s humble beginnings and how father and son found each other.

The side of me that loves dark, convoluted, Gothic stories absolutely loved this book! A mother widely believed to be mad, an evil father, life with monks, and love against all odds just add up to the perfect read when I am in the right mood. And I was in the right mood for this one.

Gothic doesn’t feel like exactly the right word to describe this book, but melodramatic has a negative connotation, at least to me, so I’m going to stick with Gothic.

Moses is a sensitive soul, and I found myself wanting to protect him in his childhood years. As he grew up and started to go after what he wanted, I was firmly on his side, cheering him on through everything.

I won’t get into the supporting characters too much for fear of giving something away, but I even loved and loathed them as I was supposed to. I will give you this quote about a bookish monk*: “And sure enough, the next Thursday, when Nicolai had fetched me from rehearsal and scrubbed my face and combed my hair, there stood Remus, dressed in hat and cloak and carrying a satchel full of books as though we would be traveling for many days, as if running out of books were tantamount to running out of air.” Who among us can’t relate to that? And they were only going to be away for a couple of hours!

Moses’ descriptions of sounds and music were a feast for all the senses. “Guadagni waved his hands as he sang, his long fingers describing ebbs and swells just as his voice did. In its delicate moments, he held me rigid as I strained to hear, and then, in its massive moments, I felt as if I might collapse under the force of his voice’s brilliance. Guadagni gazed toward a corner of the room, and I saw in his eyes that there was his Eurydice, soon to be his again. Find her! the music said to me. Find her! It swept away any fear that lingered in the shadows of my soul. Warm tears stained my now-clean face.”*

But mostly this story is about love. Motherly love, fatherly love, passionate love–love in all its forms. While I would never describe myself as being a fan of romances, I am a sucker for stories with such pure love in them.

If you’re in the mood for a Gothic novel with a big voice, pick this one up. I think you’ll love it.

Thanks to Read It Forward for sending me a copy for review.

*I read an ARC, so this quote might have changed or been removed from the final edition.

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  1. If a book is described as Gothic, it just simply means that I must immediately purchase it and begin reading straightaway. Therefore, Gothic literature is absolutely fabulous to me! I have a sample excerpt downloaded onto my Nook. I look forward to reading it when I'm done with The Passage.

  2. the quote you included is definitely something i can relate to! the mere idea of being book-less, egads!

    glad you enjoyed this one, though i don't think it's for me.

  3. Sounds like a very moody, mysterious read! And the love angle definitely intrigues me. Not one I probably would have selected on my own, but your review has definitely piqued my interest!

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