Cover Image: Ellie and the Harpmaker

Ellie and the Harpmaker

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Member Reviews

I’m not sure how I feel about this one still. I liked it while I was reading it but I found it very forgettable. I did really like the characters and the story line.

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Dan Hollis lives a happy, solitary life carving exquisite Celtic harps in his barn in the countryside of the English moors. Here he can be himself, away from social situations that he doesn’t always get right or completely understand.

On the anniversary of her beloved father’s death, Ellie Jacobs takes a walk in the woods and comes across Dan’s barn. She is enchanted by his collection. Dan gives her a harp made of cherrywood to match her cherry socks. He stores it for her, ready for whenever she’d like to take lessons.

Ellie begins visiting Dan almost daily and quickly learns that he isn’t like other people. He makes her sandwiches precisely cut into triangles and repeatedly counts the (seventeen) steps of the wooden staircase to the upstairs practice room. Ellie soon realizes Dan isn’t just different; in many ways, his world is better, and he gives her a fresh perspective on her own life.

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A warm and delightful read, I thoroughly treasured my time spent on Exmoor. The novel has a keen sense of place due to the author's intimate knowledge and affection for her home.

Told via the alternating perspectives of Ellie and Dan, the story was heart-warming, poignant, humorous, and up-lifting. I particularly appreciated the chapters written from Dan's point of view as his was such a uniquely different, and pure perspective. The addition of 'Phineas the Pheasant' added some levity and interest too.

Some would frown upon Ellie's attraction to Dan - mostly because she is married, and also because of his Asperger's. I on the other hand, disliked Ellie's husband from the beginning, long before she ever met Dan, so I was routing for Dan and Ellie to get together. I wondered how, if they did every become a couple, they would meet the challenges Dan's Asperger's would present to their lives.

A story about friendship, deception, human connection, appreciation of music, and being true to yourself.

This is a ‘feel-good’ novel that will stay in my heart for years to come.

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More a 3.5 star, but not quite a 4 for me. It was an enjoyable read, and the character of Dan was particularly delightful and refreshing. Some of the more predictable choices and a few frustrations with Ellie kept this from being a great book for me; but I was still always in the story and sad to leave Exmoor when it was over. I look forward to reading something else by Hazel Prior.

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This was a sweet story of a woman who avoids her own life while being enthralled by a harpmaker. Ellie has been a doormat in her own relationship, and then finds the good Dan Hollis, and they are drawn to each other as Ellie finally has room to be who she truly is. Not an unpredictable story, you want to root for both Dan and Ellie to succeed, amidst the chaos of the story.

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A quiet, quirky story about a bored married woman who moves to a new place and meets a reclusive harpmaker.

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Ellie has been out walking when she finds the barn the harpmaker lives in. He has the most beautiful harps. He invites her in to see them and, on a whim, makes a gift to her of one he's made from cherry wood. The cherry matches her socks. Her husband makes her return it. So Dan puts it upstairs and tells her she can practice there.

Berkley sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you). It has been published and you can get a copy now.

Dan is different. He takes walks, counts the animals he sees, doesn't care so much about money, and leads a simple life. Clive, her husband is all about money and manipulation. He loves her, but he will break something she loves if she doesn't do what he wants.

As she learns to play the harp, she begins to admire Dan. He sees wonder everywhere. He makes Celtic harps and his sister sells them for him. She takes harp lessons from his girlfriend. He hasn't seen his girlfriend for a long time so he calls and asks if she's still his girlfriend. She says no. Then Ellie finds out he has a son no one told him about. To get even the old girlfriend calls her husband and tells him about the harp lessons and how much time she spends with Dan. Clive gets insanely angry and won't even speak to her. She spends of her time at Dan's upstairs practicing on the harp but he doesn't believe her. His way of getting even is awful with consequences for all of them.

This is a mellow read with Ellie and Dan's friendship growing. Clive is lethal and the ending is harrowing. Ellie finally stands up for herself and I was glad to see that.

This was a good read. Give it a try.

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Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior is a 2019 Bantam Press publication.

Dan, is a Harpmaker who spontaneously gives one of his harps to Ellie, a woman visiting his little out of the way shop one day.

Ellie’s husband, however, insists she return the harp. Instead, she winds up storing it at Dan’s place, scheming behind her husband’s back to visit the harp regularly, secretly learning how to play it. While Ellie and Dan begin developing a friendship, Ellie discovers a shocking secret that will change Dan’s life forever.

Meanwhile, Ellie struggles to convince herself she loves her husband that she is happy in her marriage, all while walking on eggshells around him, hiding her relationship with Dan and her harp lessons from him. But, sooner or later everything comes into the light putting Ellie and Dan’s friendship in jeopardy.

While this is mostly a light, charming tale, it is also one of those stories in which the presentation prevents serious subjects from becoming too heavy, insulating the darker topics behind a whimsical veneer. However, these topics never dig too far beneath the surface, giving the story just the right amount of depth, allowing it to balance the dark undertones and the lighter overtones.

Dan's big, open heart made me want to reach through the pages and hug him. It was easy to see why Ellie was drawn to him.

This is a cute, offbeat romance, a feel good story that is warm and touching, with a sweet ending that will leave you with a smile on your face. Everyone needs a story like this one from to time to take the edge off life’s trials for a while.

Overall, quick, easy, and very enjoyable!

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I loved this book. The main characters, Ellie and Dan the Harpmaker were both so endearing, charming and a little quirky. The characters loneliness and innocence reminded me a little of Fredrik Backman's Ove character in "A Man Called Ove" or A.J. Fikry in "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry." The plot is a very simple one but I still couldn't wait to find out how it turned out and I rooted for Ellie and Dan to be together through the whole book.

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While I did not enjoy Ellie and the Harpmaker, I find its quirky characters appropriate for fans of A Man Called Ove, The Little Paris Bookshop, and the Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. This books provides characters who are seeking redemption and meaning in their quiet lives. The setting and occupations add interest for readers.

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Prior's novel was a delightful read, the kind of book that lifts the spirits and inspires the reader. I look forward to reading more of Prior's work.

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I really struggled with this one. On the one hand, I adored the concept, on the other, seriously, NO ONE realized that the male lead was on the autism spectrum? NO ONE? I was so frustrated with this aspect that I stopped reading around the 70% mark.

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I LOVED this book. It was beautiful, whimsical, and thought-provoking. While out for a walk, Ellie discovers a barn, where a man named Dan lives and hand-makes harps. Dan is content to be by himself, but when Ellie shows up, he decides he needs to give her one of his cherrywood harps to match Ellie’s cherry socks, setting off a string of events that put the two on a path towards friendship.

The two main characters were so interesting. There was great description, but the book was still fast-paced and very dramatic. The building of the friendship between Dan and Ellie was beautiful and touching, and seemed very realistic. Dan had such an interesting outlook on the world, and Ellie really grew throughout the book. I really enjoyed the entire book and can’t wait for more from this author!

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I tried reading this, and I didn't enjoy it enough to get all the way through it. The writing style wasn't for me, and I couldn't connect with the characters. I know that this is super short, but I barely made it a quarter of the way through the book. It just wasn't for me, unfortunately.
I am giving this two stars because objectively this isn't bad. I could see why many people would love it.

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This was a lovely read with quirky characters who come together under the most unusual circumstances. It feels a bit magical, but with some dark bits thrown in as well, and the plot moved quick enough to keep the story moving along, but not so much that it felt "urgent" I enjoyed this...looked forward to picking it back in the evening, and would recommend it to others who enjoyed The Girl He Used to Know or Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing a digital ARC for review.

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Ellie Jacobs is walking through the woods when she stumbles upon a barn. Not just any barn, but a barn filled with beautiful handmade harps. She didn’t even know the place existed, much less that it was filled with harps!

She meets Don Hollis the man who makes the celtic harps. He gives Ellie a harp, which her husband makes her return. But Ellie can’t stay away from Don and his harps.

As she gets to know Don, she realizes that he is a little different. He is very precise in some his actions, very blunt, very honest. He appears to be on the autism spectrum though the book never fully states this.

The story unfolds with Ellie growing closer and closer to Don and pulling away from her husband.

I really enjoyed the book, though I found Ellie to be frustrating at times. The character of Don kept the story interesting.

I received an ARC of the book.

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I really enjoyed this novel. It was paced really well and kept me interested and wanting to see what would happen next. I really liked the character of Dan, he reminded me a lot of Don Tillman from the Rosie Project series, but I didn't feel like we were given quite enough backstory or time to connect with his character as I would have liked. I loved that this book was set somewhere different and such a unique topic of harps and harpmaking. It was a sweet ending and I would definitely recommend this novel to fans of books such as Eleanor Oliphant and The Rosie Project.

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Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior is a heartwarming and fun read that will have you smiling throughout the whole book. Ellie meets Dan in his harp making barn and decides impulsively to begin learning how to play the harp. This decision leads to her making other decisions that ultimately lead to her shaking up her staid life and marriage. Dan is a lovely character with all kinds of fun quirks. This book is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant. Read and enjoy!

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2 Stars.

Ellie and the Harpmaker is a story that unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect with from the start. With the dual POV’s -there was just something that didn’t work for me and I can’t put my finger on it. I really wanted to like Ellie and her budding relationship with Dan but I also felt like there was something missing. They didn’t quite “click” the way I hoped they would.

In the case of this novel, I think I am simply the wrong reader for this book and I would urge other readers to look at other reviews for this book before making a decision as I think I am an outlier here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an arc of this novel.

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I may be in the minority here...
When I read the premise for this book I anticipated a sweet delightful read. Unfortunately I couldn’t connect with the characters and found myself putting this book down more than reading it.

Ellie and Dan are two characters that seemed destined for each other. Their friendship slowly develops into a charming romance. It was sweet to read but just lacked...something. Their friendship and romance just didn’t grow on me as much as I had hoped.
Maybe the wrong time... or just the wrong reader. Wasn’t my cup of tea.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an ARC to read and review.

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