Cover Image: Ellie and the Harpmaker

Ellie and the Harpmaker

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Member Reviews

Dan is a harp maker, and when English housewife Ellie stumbles into his studio one day, he spontaneously gifts her with a harp. When she brings it home her scornful husband assures her that she cannot accept it. She does bring it back to Dan, but winds up signing up for harp lessons with his erstwhile girlfriend, Rhoda. I had trouble getting into this book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it, largely because of the quirky, multi-faceted characters. Readers who enjoyed A Man Called Ove might want to give this novel a try.

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Wasn’t able to finish this one for right now, although I really adore the premise.

The emotionally abusive relationship as well as Ellie’s responses/submissiveness to her husband was darker and more uncomfortable than I was prepared for.

I might come back to it to try again later as I was really excited about reading about a harp maker and someone learning to play harp ( I just started harp this year!).

I was also enjoying the small town descriptions and intrigued by the harp maker with Autism slant.. in the 35% or so that I read he felt too caricature-esque and ‘simple’ to me. Maybe he got to gain depth and be presented a little differently later on.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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There are many things to love about this book. Dan's narration is bingeable, so are the twists and turns of the plot, and the entire novel makes you want to run your fingers over harp strings for the first time. Seriously, I feel like running to a local music store and begging for a miniharp! This would be a good book club pick, with undertones of emotional abuse and questions of what is fidelity in marriage (and friendships). Some parts got pretty cringy, but so does life.

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The story was cute overall. A little predictable, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I always like an alternating narrator, but I thought that this one needed more to differentiate their voices from each other. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to people, but I also wouldn't dissuade them from reading it. This would be a nice, cozy, winter read.

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I struggled with this one. For starters, I loved the character of Dan and his relationship with Phineas. Ellie, however, was extremely unlikeable. She was a doormat and honestly the worst kind of woman - while debating leaving her husband she keeps trying to decide if it’s possible Dan loves her. Because the only way you can leave one man is if you have another lined up to take his place I guess? In general, I don’t like books where someone who is married falls for someone else - especially when, as in this book, the author keeps giving us example after example of how horrible the husband is, to make it okay. Wish the author had stuck to forming a friendship between Dan and Ellie rather than an odd and unlikely romance.

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The idea of a character that is a harp maker is very original, however his struggle with I believe is autism should have been addressed. I found Ellie and her husband not enjoyable as characters, and the writing made me struggle to finish the story.

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Ellie stumbles across a harp maker in Exmoor and they develop a friendship despite hardship and quirks. This was a sweet read and seems to be inspired by real harps and harpmakers and Exmoor as a place!

Dan the harpmaker seems to maybe be on the autism spectrum, but it is never defined. The romance is definitely a slow and obtuse one but this may be the mood you are in.

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After starting this and reading other negative reviews, I’ve decided to skip this one and move on to other books that appeal to me more.

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Okay listen-I've been terrible about updating lately. I was lucky enough to get what is basically my current dream job. The hours are long. The work is HARD. The effort is so worth it. As a result, I've fallen a bit behind on my book reviews....and by a bit, I mean I have like 7-10 books waiting on me. Please bear with me. I'll get caught up eventually! 😓

Today's review is for Hazel Prior's Ellie and the Harpmaker. I was lucky enough to get this book through NetGalley, all thanks to the lovely people at Berkley Publishing Group. Ellie and the Harpmaker was released on August 6, 2019.

Ellie is a lonely housewife, strolling along the woods in Exmoor when she stumbles across a barn owned by a man named Dan. Dan is a harp maker. Because she looks so sad, Dan gives her a harp. This is how a very unique friendship begins between the two of them. It may even blossom into true love.

This story was interesting enough. Hearing Dan's viewpoints felt like being on a train going a hundred miles an hour. Ellie was super sad. Her husband was a total jerk. She didn't really have many friends. There weren't many likable characters for me. Dan was interesting but he was hard to follow. Ellie just reminded me of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.

I think if you're into romcoms and romantic books, I think you'll really enjoy this. For me, it was a good story but it wasn't a super special story for me. It's one I probably won't remember for long. Honestly, I think it was due to just not being my cup of tea. I know a lot of people who would really love this book. It just wasn't a book for me.

3/5 Stars

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First of all, this cover is gorgeous! ohhhh this book 💕 it has a special place in my heart because I played the harp for a few years and my daughter’s name is Hazel sooooo 🙌🏻 Ellie wasn’t my favorite character, but Dan certainly was. Loved it!

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Unfortunately, I had to DNF this book. While the premise intrigued me enough to ask for the book, I couldn't get into the story. My biggest issue is with the writing. I'm used to dual POVs but there's a lot of telling and not showing. The style where we're being told about the conversation while the secondary character is actually speaking is a little jarring to me. It was enough to make me give up on the book.

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Dan is a harpmaker. It's his calling and his passion to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind Celtic harps. Dan lives above his workshop in the harp barn. He doesn't do well in social settings, and his circle of friends is very small

Ellie is a house wife. Ellie is mourning her father when she comes across Dan and his harp barn. When Dan gives her a harp (Cherry wood because she's wearing cherry red socks), it's love at first sight for Ellie and her harp. Circumstances require Ellie to leave her harp at Dan's, and their friendship is born.

This book is written with alternate views from both Ellie and Dan. Both characters have difficulty fitting into society norms. Both Dan and Ellie have only a few friends and prefer spending time outdoors among nature. In fact I would say that both Dan and Ellie are quite similar.

This was a sweet story but it never really grabbed my attention. I don't have anything really negative to say about it either... I'm left not quite sure how I feel about this book. Maybe what I really needed is a epilogue set 10 years later??

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<i>Ellie and the Harpmaker</i> by Hazel Prior is a very charming/cozy story about a housewife who isn't quite sure what she wants out of her marriage or life, and Dan, a harpmaker whose life seems relatively simple and secure. When the two meet it sets in motion a path that neither really expected.

While I liked the story a lot, there are a lot of gaps in the story that I wish were filled in, or maybe it's characters that feel incomplete that I wish were more complete. Both Roe Deer and Clive feel like half characters at times and the motivations for their actions are never really explained. It makes them come off as just "bad guys". The dynamic with Ellie's family felt the same way to me. I kept wondering how Ellie's mom figured into the plot, and then eventually realized that she didn't. Don't get me wrong, I still liked the story quite a bit, but I feel like there was a lot going on without a lot of backstory.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC of the book.

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Cute, but predictable story. I had a hard time connecting to the characters at the beginning of the story, but got much more interested in the plot about half way through. Would recommend to those looking for a light romance.

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I got about a third of the way through this and quit. I’ve read some rave reviews but just wasn’t feeling the connection between the two characters.

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Many thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, Penguin Random House Canada, and Hazel Prior for an ARC in exchange for an honest book review of Ellie and the Harpmaker. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy.


I have a bone to pick. I know you are supposed to be carried away with the romance and root for Ellie and Dan BUT I don’t like it one character is married while falling in love with another. Especially in this story, we are not really sure if Clive is a bad guy or not. Clive flips flops as a character, sort of being who the author wants him to be depending on the circumstances. Is a violent, wife abuser? Or a wounded man who was once cheated on and now extra sensitive to it happening again. Is he a psychopath who burns down a barn? Or is he alcohol dependent and in need of rehab? I mean come on, pick a lane. Commit. Again, I will reiterate, if you don’t like your husband, leave him. Deal with your shit. Then find someone else to fall in love with.

Clive’s worst nightmare came true. Ellie snuck around, got the hots for the harpmaker and then wants to leave her husband. She lied to him for months while developing this relationship. Ellie made jam for Dan, she wrote love poems about him. Yes, Clive lost his shit. I couldn’t relate to Ellie at all. She was weak, self-indulgent, dishonest and a bunch of other characteristics that made me dislike her. I remember when “Eat Pray Love” came out. Everyone loved that book so much, but I kept thinking that this was the most selfish, narcissistic, self-indulgent woman I ever heard of. Ellie gave me the same feelings.

The minor characters were also something I couldn’t relate to. Ellie’s one and only friend, Christine, was awful. As someone whom Ellie admits can’t hold a relationship, maybe don’t go to her for advice. She just encourages Ellie to lie to her husband, take off for vacation at Christmas and basically do whatever it is you feel like, regardless of the consequences. If Clive really was a violent husband, she could have gotten Ellie killed. Thomas, Dan’s friend, was another odd friend that isn’t really a friend.

I think the character of Dan was also mishandled. Obviously, there is something that makes Dan different. But it isn’t dealt with in any meaningful way. The people in Dan’s life mistreat him. The girlfriend who completely takes advantage of him and his character, who dates him and then breaks up with him, except, oops, she doesn’t tell him for five years. Don’t get me started with having sex with Dan and he doesn’t even really know what it is. If this was a female character we would be crying rape. Dan’s sister seems to be using him financially and again taking advantage of his quirks, or condition, or whatever it is. This is awful!!

I felt like the character of the boy was also mishandled. Is he like his Dad? If so, why isn’t it addressed by the adults in his life? It seems like the boy is a problem to both his mother and his grandparents. Although Dan’s condition reminds me of “The Rosie Project”, that novel deals with it honestly, openly and in a beautifully touching manner.

So, in case you can’t tell, I just wasn’t into this book. I was so angry most of the way through. Then ending was even worse. It was so unrealistic where it seemed like the author just made arbitrary things happen so it would all work out with a happy ending. I did enjoy the nature, the bits about the harp making and the soul of the harp. I could have had more of that. I really liked Dan even though I don’t feel like his character got a fair or honest shake. My favorite character was probably the pheasant. That says it all.

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Lovely story about love and loss and being different. I enjoyed most of the book, but for one part. Thank you to publisher and Netgalley!

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this was an absolutely beautiful and enchanting read. it took a bit to get going but once it did i absolutely fell in love. charming and wonderful, definitely recommend. lots of feels.

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Ellie and the Harpmaker is a lovely, debut novel by Hazel Prior that I found completely enchanting!! I found this book to be completely heartwarming—I loved the way it explored an unconventional love story between two people that from the outside shouldn’t work together. A lonely, emotionally abused housewife and a shy, eccentric, and likely autistic harpmaker befriend each other at a time when their souls need that connection.

Ellie is a bored housewife in an unhappy marriage, living in the beautiful Exmoor countryside. She dreams of being a poet and spends her time writing when she’s not keeping house and caring for her husband Clive. Ellie loves music, words, nature, and dreams of a different life. But in her current marriage, those are only dreams.
Clive is emotionally abusive towards Ellie. He finds ways of manipulating her and destroying her self-confidence. He belittles her interest in music and writing, while peppering her with cute nicknames and love-y saying designed more to demean her than to show love.

Ellie loves to walk in nature—she finds it peaceful and calming. One day while strolling the countryside, she comes upon a barn that has been converted into a workshop by the handsome and eccentric Dan. Dan makes beautiful wooden harps in his workshop. Dan doesn’t speak much—he isn’t very comfortable being around people, he prefers solitude. But Dan is instantly drawn to Ellie, how sad she seems, and her cherry-colored socks, and he gives her a harp.

Ellie is so happy with the gift, but when she returns home Clive is not happy with it. In a state of jealousy, Clive insists Ellie return it. Why would a man give such an extravagant gift? And after all, he doesn’t believe Ellie will be able to learn to play it.

Ellie can’t bear the thought of parting with the harp. Returning to Dan’s workshop, she visits him and learns to play the harp from Dan’s girlfriend Rhoda. Rhoda is beautiful and glamorous. But when Ellie learns a secret about Dan and Rhoda, everything will begin to change. Dan and Ellie may be just what the other needs to heal and become whole.

I found this book heartwarming and surprisingly a bit twisty for a love story. The whole quadrangle between Dan, Clive, Ellie and Rhoda is quite dramatic! Dan is so adorably naïve—he is shocked when he learns how Rhoda views their relationship. He just processes events differently than most. I absolutely loathed Clive! I found him to be so manipulative and destructive towards Ellie—often making her feel like she isn’t good enough and that she is lucky to have him.

I read that the author herself plays the harp and I thought it made the poetic descriptions of the beautiful harps and their music resonate even more with me. Harp music is indeed beautiful, and harps are certainly not easy to learn to play, from what I’ve heard! Ellie is so isolated with Clive that she takes his opinions about her to heart. I loved seeing Ellie and Dan grow together, he shows her a different side of herself that Clive has slowly tried to diminish.

This is a story of redemption, of hope, of growth, and finding a partner who makes us shine, rather than dulls us. It’s a story of friendship, love, and endless possibilities. And it’s quite charming, from the harp playing to the setting, to Phineus the pheasant who warmed my heart! A lovely story that will sweep you away to those rolling hills and a quaint little workshop filled with music and love.

Thank you Berkley for my copy. Opinions are my own.

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At first this story began slowly and I wasn't sure that I was going to read it. BUT--it really picked up speed and it became difficult to put down.
Dan, Ellie, Clive, Roe Deer, plus Jo and Ed brought depths to the tale of Ellie and the harpmaker [Dan]. Keeping secrets, feelings that one is unsure about, the color of the words, relationships, all make this a literary read.

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