Saturday, September 18, 2010

120 - The Bells; Richard Harvell






















From the minute I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. The Bells, tells the story of Moses Froben, who was born in a belfry to a deaf-mute, in a small, extremely poor village in the Swiss Alps in the 1700's. The villagers thought his mother was crazy, because she was skittish, dirty, and hid from the village people in caves or the belfry. She cared about nothing except her son, and her ringing of the bells every day. Moses as a young child, was allowed to live in the belfry with his mother because it was believed that since he did not speak, he was as deaf and mad as his mother. However, this was not the case. Since Moses had been exposed to the daily ringing of these loud bells from the time he was in his mother’s womb,instead of deafness, he was born with an extraordinary acute sense of hearing.

When Father Carl Victor learns that Moses can speak, the priest fears that Moses will be able to expose what he has for so long kept hidden. He tells Moses , “If God will not make you deaf, then I will do it”, and to keep his secret he tries to drown Moses in a river. When two monks, Nicholai and Remus, rescue the frightened boy, Nicholai names him Moses,a fine enough name for a boy swimming in the river”. Nicholai promises to care of Moses. When they bring the young boy back to the monastery, the abbot tells them they must take Moses to the orphanage in Rorschach or they will be forced to leave as well.

From this point on Moses preternatural hearing causes him both pleasure and pain. Later he is  later taken to a new cathedral, the Abbey of St. Gall, and it seems that his life will improve. His performance in the choir makes him its prized singer. His keen sense of hearing and his love of music blossom, and he prepares for his first opera, but all this comes at a price.

Without revealing significant plot elements, I’d just like to say that this is truly a remarkable, unforgettable, historical debut novel. It is rare for me to read a story and be brought to tears, but this story had that effect on me. Told in the first person narrative, the sometimes touching, sometimes horrifying details of young Moses growing up, shall stay with me for a long while I am sure. The innocence of Moses as a child is so pitch perfect. The title of this novel was simplistic, but perfect, as The Bells, and sound, were key elements throughout this story. In summary, I just can’t imagine any book moving me the way this one did. I will be a Richard Harvell advocate, as this is a book that should be read by anyone who enjoys a story of substance, one that evokes emotion, and one that you will talk about again and again -- an awesome choice for book clubs everywhere.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - 5/5 STARS  
(review copy)

28 comments:

  1. I haven't really read your review since this is sitting in my TBR pile but I am glad to hear how much you loved it, it looks absolutely fantastic and as one of my first review copies I'm doubly excited to get a chance to read it :)

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  2. Since it doesn't take too much to make me cry these days, I imagine I'd cry a river if I read this one. Your review is fantastic and I've added the book to my wish list.

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  3. This is one I'm definitely going to read. I saw you mention it on one of the memes and it looked so interesting. Yay for 5-Star books! :)

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  4. I hope to see this one around a lot more, as it sounds like a very worthwhile book. I will definitely keep an eye out for it.

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  5. If this brought you to tears and five out of five rating, I'm definitely putting this on my Paperbackswap Wish List!!

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  6. Fabulous review! You expressed some of the feelings I had towards this book beautifully. The voice was perfect for Moses as a child. I was hooked on this book to and it has stuck with me.

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  7. Wow! Sounds like a very powerful book. I'll be keeping an eye out for it.

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  8. I have this! Now I need to find the time to read it. So glad you loved it!!!

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  9. I have heard of nothing but amazing things about this book. This may indeed be at the top of my wish list now thanks to reviews like yours!

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  10. Not only will I add this book to my list, I'll move it right to the top! Thanks, karen

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  11. Wow, that one sounds pretty good!

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  12. Holy cow...I must get my hands on this book. I loved being moved to tears!!!

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  13. I was intrigued when you first mentioned this book --- and I am thrilled that you enjoyed it so much. Fabulous review!

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  14. I put this on my list based on your comments in last week's Sunday Salon and your review has completely convinced me that it is a must read! Thanks for the recommendation!

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  15. I just saw this book on Mary Bookfan's Mailbox and after reading your review I have to get this one next. Thanks for bringing it to the front of my WISHLIST now.

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  16. Wow - what a review! I did read a couple of pages of this book and it didn't take with me. I probably wasn't in the mood for it. What got me to pick it up in the first place was a comparison with Perfume by Susskind. I will definitely reconsider it now!

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  17. You've sold me - this sounds fabulous!

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  18. I got a galley of this novel from my work but never got around to reading it, your review has convinced me to pick it up and give it a read :)

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  19. I can't believe how I missed this one. I HAVE TO HAVE IT. I'll be on the lookout because it looks like a fantastic read. Thanks for such a great review.

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  20. Oh my! Your opinion on this one is high praise indeed! I will have to try this book, though I really needed no prompting after reading the awesome and compelling summary that you provided! Fantastic review! I will be looking for this one.

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  21. I HAVE to get it .. any book that brings you in deeply enough to make you cry is a good one. Although, for myself, I must add some light books in between the emotional ones, otherwise, I'd go around in an emotional book fog!

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

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  22. I am definitely going to try this out too! Sounds like very good book, and I am sure I will cry a lot :D because I easily cry :)

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  23. This sounds very different and your obvious love for the book makes me want to try it too.

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  24. Sounds lovely! Is it sort of "Perfume" but with a difference scent?

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  25. I am trying to AVOID crying right now! This does look good but I may have to wait until my hormones have reached a normal level :)

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  26. This does sound wonderful! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I haven't heard of it till you mentioned it. This definitely going on my wishlist.

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