The Bells by Richard Harvell

The BellsThe Bells is a love story. It is a story of love for music, a story of familial love, a story of love among friends, and a story of love between a man and a woman. Love stories are not at all unusual, but what makes this novel so special is the setting, the characters, and the incredible world that its author has created.

Set in the Swiss Alps of the mid-18th century, the story begins with young Moses, a boy who lives alone with his mother in a small church in the village. His mother, completely deaf, rings the bells of the church where Moses plays, and he listens to their beautiful ringing. Moses is an outcast. He and his mother are extremely poor, and his paternity is a source of gossip among the town’s people. Though this saddens Moses, he nevertheless finds joy with his mother and in the sounds that he hears as acutely as they are silenced for his mother.

When his mother dies, Moses is sent to a monastery where he finds friends for life, an evil abbot, and the girl who becomes the love of his life. It is here that he also meets an irreversible fate that will forever change his future. Moses, who sings like a bird as a young boy, is castrated against his will in order to preserve his voice.

When his love, Amalia, is taken away from him to marry another (Moses cannot compete with the rich man who is a peer to Amalia’s family and he is a castrato, after all), Moses begins a journey to Vienna to find her — a journey that also helps him find his voice.

This many-layered novel is completely engrossing. The characters throughout the book are richly drawn. Moses’ friends are characters so unique the reader will never forget them and the accurate historic backdrop adds tremendously to the novel’s depth. A perfect choice for book clubs of all types.

Shaye Areheart Books/Random House; ISBN 978-0-30759-052-7; $24.
The Bells: Reader's Guide

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