Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior
Published August 2019 – Berkley
Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley
Description: 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. (publisher)
My take: I think its best going into Ellie and the Harpmaker without knowing more than the book description. I loved learning about Dan and his world. Some would describe him as being somewhere on the spectrum. He doesn’t pick up on most social cues and is quite comfortable counting things and observing nature when he isn’t making beautiful harps. He meets people because of his harps and that serves him well or sometimes not so much. Ellie grew up being told by her mother she was never enough. Her husband eventually took over the job of reminding her but Ellie always looks for the best and keeps trying to be a good wife. When she discovers the harp maker’s barn Ellie’s life, and Dan’s, begins to change. The novel alternates chapters between the point of view of Ellie and Dan which kept the pace good – I never felt it lag. If you’re looking for something a bit different and ultimately uplifting I think Ellie and the Harpmaker is just the right book and I can’t wait to see what Hazel Prior dreams up next.