Such music! Opera! How could I waste a moment with a book! says Nicolai, the protector of Moses, Harvells hero.
Ironic words for an author to pen. Although the writing seems at times contrived, the power of visceral sound that reverberates from the pages of The Bells is astounding. If you are a lover of theatrics and sumptuous opera, this book is for you. Opera lovers, prepare to read The Bells more with your ears than your eyes. Overwrought with all of the excesses we revel in on the opera stage, this opera lover read the book more with my ears than my eyes.
Moses, the protagonist, is a singer whose unusual auditory gifts were sharpened by the resonance of church bells rung by his deaf mother. As a young boy, Moses gloried in the sensations and success of his singing, wanting to be like the beautiful music he sang, with no clue of the ramifications of that success. Forbidden romance, brilliant singing, conspiracy and the search for identity, round out his life.
Author Richard Harvell, inspired by his wifes singing, Swiss cowbells and a recording of Gregorian chant, dug in his heels and extensively researched 18th century opera and church music. You will be impressed with his use of cliffhangers and phenomenal knowledge of acoustics and musicology. For this reviewers taste, however, he overdid the use of auditory stimulation in his writing.
This book is striking, horrifying, sensual and mesmerizing. If you enjoy resounding operatic melodrama, you will revel in The Bells.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont