Read The Bells by Richard Harvell Online

the-bells

I grew up as the son of a man who could not possibly have been my father. Though there was never any doubt that my seed had come from another man, Moses Froben, Lo Svizzero, called me “son.” And I called him “father.” On the rare occasions when someone dared to ask for clarification, he simply laughed as though the questioner were obtuse. “Of course he’s not my son!” he woI grew up as the son of a man who could not possibly have been my father. Though there was never any doubt that my seed had come from another man, Moses Froben, Lo Svizzero, called me “son.” And I called him “father.” On the rare occasions when someone dared to ask for clarification, he simply laughed as though the questioner were obtuse. “Of course he’s not my son!” he would say. “Don’t be ridiculous.” But whenever I myself gained the courage to ask him further of our past, he just looked sadly at me. “Please, Nicolai,” he would say after a moment, as though we had made a pact I had forgotten. With time, I came to understand I would never know the secrets of my birth, for my father was the only one who knew these secrets, and he would take them to his grave. The celebrated opera singer Lo Svizzero was born in a belfry high in the Swiss Alps where his mother served as the keeper of the loudest and most beautiful bells in the land. Shaped by the bells’ glorious music, as a boy he possessed an extraordinary gift for sound. But when his preternatural hearing was discovered—along with its power to expose the sins of the church—young Moses Froben was cast out of his village with only his ears to guide him in a world fraught with danger.  Rescued from certain death by two traveling monks, he finds refuge at the vast and powerful Abbey of St. Gall. There, his ears lead him through the ancient stone hallways and past the monks’ cells into the choir, where he aches to join the singers in their strange and enchanting song. Suddenly Moses knows his true gift, his purpose. Like his mother’s bells, he rings with sound and soon, he becomes the protégé of the Abbey’s brilliant yet repulsive choirmaster, Ulrich.  But it is this gift that will cause Moses’ greatest misfortune: determined to preserve his brilliant pupil’s voice, Ulrich has Moses castrated. Now a young man, he will forever sing with the exquisite voice of an angel—a musico—yet castration is an abomination in the Swiss Confederation, and so he must hide his shameful condition from his friends and even from the girl he has come to love. When his saviors are exiled and his beloved leaves St. Gall for an arranged marriage in Vienna, he decides he can deny the truth no longer and he follows her—to sumptuous Vienna, to the former monks who saved his life, to an apprenticeship at one of Europe’s greatest theaters, and to the premiere of one of history’s most beloved operas.  In this confessional letter to his son, Moses recounts how his gift for sound led him on an astonishing journey to Europe’s celebrated opera houses and reveals the secret that has long shadowed his fame: How did Moses Froben, world renowned musico, come to raise a son who by all rights he never could have sired?  Like the voice of Lo Svizzero, The Bells is a sublime debut novel that rings with passion, courage, and beauty....

Title : The Bells
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780307590527
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 374 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Bells Reviews

  • Keilani Ludlow
    2019-02-19 12:12

    Spoilers -I'm probably going to get chewed out for my moral views for this review but -Ugh. The underlying story is interesting. The son of a deaf/mute woman from a small hill town has through the course of events, developed or maybe even been born with the ability to hear sound very differently, hear little details, great distance, how bits and pieces of sound go together. His description of what he hears is in great color and detail. It could be beautiful but the surrounding of the story is coarse and vulgar. His father was a priest who repeatedly raped his mother as she had no means to stop him. His father thinks he's mute too, but then tries to kill him when he finds out the boy can talk and therefore can give away his secret. He is saved by two priests who of course turn out to be gay. He's taken to a monastery and it's discovered that he has the voice of an angel. At some point a priest castrates him to preserve his voice. The story goes on...My dislike of the story is this, the graphic, coarse, vulgar descriptions. The choir-leader priest who touches, pokes, caresses, coaxes him into his best singing? Sexual abuse? Hard to say but it's definitely on your mind while reading this. The main character's graphic descriptions of the different sounds of sex at various houses as he listens outside the window, the feeling he has as a girl bends over and he can see she's not wearing underwear under her dress, the descriptive near-sex experience (because of course he's castrated) with the girl he likes, and so on. I got about half way through and gave it up and it should have been sooner. Again, the underlying story could be interesting, the description of sound is interesting, but the dirt surrounding it makes it not worth the effort.

  • Marialyce
    2019-01-22 09:09

    Absolutely fantastic! The ending gave me chills. This was a little unknown book to me but one that left me in awe. It was written about an 18th century opera singer and the struggles he went through in his life. From his impoverished beginnings where he learned the love and feel for his mother's bells, to the opera house where he became a great virtuoso, the reader becomes involved with his life, his friends, his love, and his ability to sing like no other. The writing made the character ever so endearing as he learns not only to sing but to feel the music as it makes its way through his heart and soul. Moses is a haunting character and his life makes you cringe at times as well as filling you with tenderness for his many trials. In this book, Harvell has created a stunningly beautiful tale of love in all its various forms. You will care so much for Moses and his friends and despise those who mistreat and harm him. I can only hope that Mr Harvell continues to write as his words were mesmerizing and his tale captured my spirit from the first page to its very brilliant ending.

  • Sara
    2019-02-04 07:15

    Dal titolo originale The Bells, questo primo e unico romanzo di Richard Harvell mi ha incredibilmente sorpresa e colpita. E, cosa che raramente accade, anche la traduzione italiana nel titolo L'esatta melodia dell'aria ne restituisce perfettamente il senso.L'aria, non soltanto quella che si respira, che costituisce l'atmosfera e ciò di cui viviamo, ma anche e soprattutto l'aria che si ascolta, come quella che tra tante costituisce la celebre opera "Orfeo ed Euridice" di Gluck che fa da filo rosso in questo romanzo.Nella Svizzera del XVIII secolo, Moses possiede una voce che allo stesso tempo è dono e condanna. Questa sua dote, a partire dal momento in cui verrà scoperta rappresenterà per lui dannazione e salvezza, e attirerà sul protagonista fama e disgrazia elargite in egual misura. Perché proprio al fine di rendere il suo dono unico e inalterabile, Moses sarà sottoposto alla pratica della castrazione. Egli diventerà così un angelo, creatura né completamente uomo né donna che con la sua voce conquisterà e ammalierà intere schiere di donne e pubblico.La musica è la vera protagonista di questo romanzo in cui ogni parola diventa nota, e come per Grenouille, che in Profumo domina la realtà con il suo olfatto sovrumano, anche per Moses la realtà viene completamente assorbita e decodificata attraverso uno dei cinque sensi, quello uditivo. Ma L'esatta melodia dell'aria non è solo questo: è la storia di un bambino allevato in un campanile, salvato da un Gigante e da un Lupo e cresciuto in un'abbazia; è la storia di una grande ingiustizia subìta, la trasformazione in angelo, che può diventare opportunità di redenzione, quando per Grenouille il proprio dono non è altro che occasione di vendetta e rivalsa.È una storia ricca di speranza, desiderio di essere accettati ed amati per ciò che si è; una storia il cui messaggio più importante è che l'amore, in ogni sua forma, è il vero motore del mondo, dell'aria che respiriamo.

  • Roberta
    2019-02-09 13:56

    Alcuni lo hanno paragonato a Il profumo, perchè questo romanzo vuole parlare dei suoni come Patrick Süskind ci ha parlato degli odori, ma non ritengo siano paragonabili: Il Profumo è uno dei miei libri preferiti, lo ritengo un capolavoro. L'esatta melodia dell'aria è una storia ben scritta, favoleggiante al punto giusto, con un protagonista tutto sommato ottimista nonostante le avversità della vita, che perseverando nel suo ottimismo arriva a una sorta di lieto fine.La storia dei castrati per diventare cantanti è tutto sommato marginale, così come la cronaca della vita quotidiana delle varie classi sociali. L'unica cosa che trovo slegata dalla storia è l'antefatto, ovvero la digressione sulla madre sorda e sul padre misterioso. Troppo lunga, e poco utile allo sviluppo della trama. Immaginavo (view spoiler)[ che la figura religiosa del padre avesse un eco nella vita monastica, ma non ho ritrovato parallelismi. (hide spoiler)]. I personaggi poveri sono i più belli. Penso a Nicolai, certo, ma anche la balia delle ultime pagine è una macchietta divertente. L'autorità è un antagonista, ma non il cattivo. Se vogliamo trovare un cattivo direi che sono le classi sociali, e l'impossibilità di muoversi dall'una all'altra se non per pochi eletti e con grandi sacrifici.La scrittura è gradevole, l'impostazione e i personaggi semplici ma non banali. Ognuno ricopre bene il proprio ruolo, risultando in una lettura scorrevole difficile da mettere giù. In fondo è una storia di redenzione, con non pochi elementi fantastici o per lo meno fantasiosi. Una lettura positiva, leggera, adatta a queste giornate estive.

  • Gaetano
    2019-02-16 12:23

    Mi è piaciuto questo strano romanzo, opera prima di Richard Harvell, un americano emigrato in Svizzera; proprio quella Svizzera da dove inizia la magica storia narrata dal protagonista Moses su un manoscritto trovato dal figlio “adottivo” dopo la morte del padre.Perdonando la forzatura che diventa parte fondamentale del libro ovvero l'estrema sensibilità acustica del protagonista che, a differenza della madre sorda, dovrebbe aver sofferto da piccolo a causa della prossimità con le campane più potenti dell’epoca, il romanzo scorre e le capacità quasi sovrannaturali del nostro eroe sono, per così dire, ”amplificate" dall'abilità narrativa dell'autore nella descrizione dei suoni che lo circondano e delle vibrazioni sonore che lo abbracciano. I panorami sonori, proprio come i dipinti, si compongono di strati. La base è costituita dal vento.Una storia di formazione, dalle montagne svizzere alla Vienna del diciottesimo secolo con filo conduttore il suono, il canto e l’amore impossibile che spinge Moses a superare ogni ostacolo.Molte sensazioni hanno accompagnato la lettura, dolce ed amara al tempo stesso.Ho odiato padre Karl Victor, per me l’unico personaggio negativo al 100%.Ho sofferto per la menomazione inflitta a Moses, purtroppo crudelmente applicata a tanti giovanetti dell'epoca in nome del "bel canto".Ho camminato insieme al silenzioso e spettrale protagonista per le strade ed i vicoli svizzeri e viennesi, dai quartieri ricchi a quelli poveri e malfamati.Mi sono emozionato all'incontro di ... Gluck ed alla rappresentazione della sua opera Orfeo ed Euridice davanti al pubblico fremente di Vienna.Un pizzico di avventura, infine, non guasta la ricetta, culminando con l’incredibile rapimento del piccolo Nicolai, favorito, ancora una volta, dai possenti rintocchi delle campane.Concludo con una ultima nota: la figura della madre sorda che suona con arte le campane mi ha ricordato la percussionista Evelyn Glennie, considerata la maggiore percussionista vivente, che - affetta da una sordità profonda dall'età di 12 anni - suona ascoltando la musica grazie alle energie sonore che le attraversano il corpo: "Suono scalza - dice - così che possa sentire dalla terra le vibrazioni". Percuotendo tramite la nuda mano o con l'aiuto delle bacchette, percepisce il suono come sensazione tattile, prima che uditiva.

  • Nazzarena
    2019-02-19 15:16

    Awwwwww *_*

  • JG (The Introverted Reader)
    2019-01-23 09:23

    Moses Froben, an opera singer of world-renown, raised a son who could not possibly have been his own. When his son asked how they had come to be together, Moses would studiously avoid the question. On Moses's death, however, his son found a memoir that told of Moses's humble beginnings and how father and son found each other.The side of me that loves dark, convoluted, Gothic stories absolutely loved this book! A mother widely believed to be mad, an evil father, life with monks, and love against all odds just add up to the perfect read when I am in the right mood. And I was in the right mood for this one.Gothic doesn't feel like exactly the right word to describe this book, but melodramatic has a negative connotation, at least to me, so I'm going to stick with Gothic.Moses is a sensitive soul, and I found myself wanting to protect him in his childhood years. As he grew up and started to go after what he wanted, I was firmly on his side, cheering him on through everything.I won't get into the supporting characters too much for fear of giving something away, but I even loved and loathed them as I was supposed to. I will give you this quote about a bookish monk*: "And sure enough, the next Thursday, when Nicolai had fetched me from rehearsal and scrubbed my face and combed my hair, there stood Remus, dressed in hat and cloak and carrying a satchel full of books as though we would be traveling for many days, as if running out of books were tantamount to running out of air." Who among us can't relate to that? And they were only going to be away for a couple of hours!Moses' descriptions of sounds and music were a feast for all the senses. "Guadagni waved his hands as he sang, his long fingers describing ebbs and swells just as his voice did. In its delicate moments, he held me rigid as I strained to hear, and then, in its massive moments, I felt as if I might collapse under the force of his voice's brilliance. Guadagni gazed toward a corner of the room, and I saw in his eyes that there was his Eurydice, soon to be his again. Find her! the music said to me. Find her! It swept away any fear that lingered in the shadows of my soul. Warm tears stained my now-clean face."*But mostly this story is about love. Motherly love, fatherly love, passionate love--love in all its forms. While I would never describe myself as being a fan of romances, I am a sucker for stories with such pure love in them.If you're in the mood for a Gothic novel with a big voice, pick this one up. I think you'll love it.Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.*I read an ARC, so this quote might have changed or been removed from the final edition.

  • Bobby
    2019-02-06 13:10

    It’s Cry to Heaven meets Perfume. The author writes gorgeous, elegant prose and knows how to keep the reader continuously interested. The title made me think at first of Edgar Allan Poe, and the story indeed includes several events as grotesque and horrifying as anything in Poe, although the style is more sedate and much less baroque, which I suppose is appropriate for a musical tale set during the neoclassical period.The main character is prodigiously talented and suffers terribly throughout the book, but he does not have a particularly interesting personality and does not really instigate much of the action—most of the time things are done to him or for him by far more interesting characters. Telling the story in first person also makes this character come across as biased, egocentric, and ultimately unreliable, since he spends so much time emphasizing what a misunderstood, put-upon, suffering genius he is and assuring us that anyone who likes him is charming, perceptive, and compassionate, while anyone opposed to his interests is mediocre, uncomprehending, cruel, pompous, or just plain repulsive. The plot is inspired by Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, and is justifiably and entertainingly as far-fetched and melodramatic as any typical opera plot or Greek myth. The beginning and ending are particularly hard to swallow—would a child brought up in a church belfry by his deaf-mute, Quasimodo-like mother be more likely to become a musical prodigy or to end up, say, stone-deaf and mentally ill? By the end of the novel I couldn’t help wondering if the sometimes preposterous story is meant to be accepted at face value or whether it is also supposed to be open to interpretation as the fantasies of a self-deluded madman with a vivid imagination and a talent for writing rather than for singing. This is a very impressive first novel, and I look forward to reading more by this author.

  • Holly Weiss
    2019-02-21 10:18

    "Resounds with Operatic Melodrama"How ironic that Nicolai, the protector of our musical hero says, "“Such music! Opera! How could I waste a moment with a book!” Although the writing is 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. Overwrought with all of the excesses we revel in on the opera stage, this opera lover read the book more with her ears than her 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 wife’s singing, Swiss cowbells and a recording of Gregorian chant, dug his heels into extensive research of 18th century opera and church music. I compliment his use of cliffhangers and his phenomenal knowledge of acoustics and musicology. For my taste, however, he overdid the use of auditory stimulation in his writing.This book is striking, horrifying, sensual and mesmerizing. If you enjoy melodrama, you will revel in The Bells.Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

  • Lisa Nelson
    2019-02-16 09:55

    4.5 starsI wish I could have listened to a soundtrack while reading the beautiful descriptions of sound in this book. It was hard to put this one down. It has a little bit of everything orphans, monks, an evil abbot, controlling aunt and sinister Mother-in-law. The best part was the on the edge of my seat love story. At one point I felt like the novel was getting a bit overly dramatic and far fetched, but I decided it is a story in part about opera and singing so I just completely submitted to the drama and it was quite a wonderful ride.

  • Mrose46
    2019-02-10 14:20

    The Bells is an almost magical story about a boy who, although he is born of a deaf mute mother, is ironically gifted with the ability to hear and distinguish the slightest and infinite variety of sounds heard in everything from the greatest operatic mass sung in Latin, to the sound of a metal key rubbing against the lock of a bedroom door, to the slightest breath from a baby’s lungs. Born into poverty as the bastard child of a woman who lived off of the charity of the local townspeople and the dreaded desires of the lustful village priest, Moses Froben became immune to the deafness that plagued all those who lived or worked in close proximity to what were considered at the time “the Loudest Bells on Earth,” in the Uri Valley of Switzerland. Instead of going deaf from hearing the bells rung by his waifish mother every day as she danced beneath the bells, pulling and hanging from the ropes, he developed the ability to distinguish every single individual note and tone contained in those titanic beloved and also feared daily peals. The story of Moses’ six decade transformation from the poor, ragged son of poverty into one of the world’s greatest stars of opera is one that takes him from the village in Switzerland where he was born, to a monastery where he is adopted and rescued from the swirling currents of a river, and on to the protection of the maestros of the music worlds of Vienna and Venice. Along the way, the sheltered Moses is helped by a pair of atypical monks, Remus and Nicolai, whose belief in the power of love, knowledge, beauty and the ordinary pleasures of life is so extreme as to be considered heretical in the traditional world of monastic life. For those who are not well versed in the world of 18th century European aria, reading the book is an eye-opening tool into certain practices and ways of life of the era. For example, the reader works alongside the dwarf Tasso under the stage of the Burgtheater in Vienna as he deftly draws pulleys that produce changes in backdrops and props on the stage for the grand operas. The reader also learns about the reverence and adoration for the musicians of the time that is such a force that it becomes the motivation and vehicle for the castration of young men whose voices show promise and who will forever after become known as “castrati” or “el musico,” a practice that is horrifying and incomprehensible to the modern reader, forever depriving the “castrati” of the chance for a complete physical and emotional love relationship for the rest of his life. Or perhaps not? What kind of power would be strong enough to restore the wholeness that had been taken away from a man?One of the underlying themes of the story is that of the power of love as epitomized in the love that existed in the mythic story of Orpheus and Eurydice. According to Greek myth, Orpheus’ love for Eurydice was so strong that he was allowed to travel into the bowels of hell to retrieve Eurydice under one condition; i.e., that he not look upon her face until they were safely out of the ghastly conditions in hell.The first appearance of the Gluck opera Orpheus in Vienna in 1762 is the setting for the culminating scenes in the book which are every bit as fast paced as any contemporary page turner book. The reader is enthralled as Moses and his band of misfits carry out a plan to kidnap his one true love from the cold loveless noble family where she has been sequestered. After sharing in the story of a lifetime of humiliation, cruelty and deprivation, and with a background of all the passion of the aria sung by Orpheus and the ever more powerful Pummerin bells of the Stephansdom in Vienna, the reader cheers Moses’ determination and daring as he seeks to finally be allowed the experience of pure, unselfish love. Does this Orpheus successfully save his Eurydice? Read the novel and see.The Bells is the first novel of writer Richard Harvell who based the story on a significant body of research of the geography and events of 18th century Switzerland and Austria.

  • Carol
    2019-01-30 12:22

    I tried to describe Richard Harvell's The Bells to a few friends today. After I told them it was about rape, kidnapping, castration and a bit improbable, they wanted to know why they'd want to read it. Good question. My opening pitch was how I absolutely loved this book. It seems to be a book you're going to love or hate. Every time I try to sum up the feelings this story provoked in me, I can't seem to get it right.I was quickly drawn into the story of a deaf-mute woman who is a ringer of three magnificent bells in a Swiss village. She rings the bells with such abandon and feels their vibrations to the very core of her being. She is repeatedly raped by the priest of the church and gives birth to a son. They live in the belfry and scrounge for food and sustenance to survive. Rage overwhelms the priest when he realizes the boy is neither mute nor death as he thought and he tries to drown him. He is saved from the river by two monks who name him Moses Froben and take him to their abbey. Here, Mose's beautiful voice is discovered. To keep the voice of an angel he is castrated; becoming a musico. This debut novel then follows the life of Moses as his incredible singing voice eventually transforms him to Lo Suizzero, the greatest musical talent of Europe in the 18th century. His road to fame is fraught with adventures including love, heartbreak, and tragedy. I liked everything about The Bells, the characters, the story, the history. I don't know much about opera or if after you see a great performance you would rise and say bravo but after reading The Bells I wanted to say just that; "Bravo, bravo, bravo!". The Bells is much about sound, song and music and how they can fill your mind, body and soul and leave you either feeling satisfied or yearning for more. I marked passages of music to search out and then found Tanya (Goodreads reader and BooksontheNightstand group member) had done my work for me by creating a play list on iTunes. The link to the playlist can be found @ http://booksonthenightstand.com/2010/... Even though The Bells is 384 pages and I'm generally a slow reader, I found myself flying through it during the past New England snow storm. I read a review that called it a Danielle Steele like romance set in The Middle Ages. To each their own I say.

  • Rhlibrary
    2019-02-19 08:22

    This book is unlike any piece of historical fiction I’ve read before. Gone are the queens and other royal figures, the courtiers and painters. Moses, the son of a deaf-mute, grew up in a belfry before being cast out, found by two monks and taken to live in the Abbey of St. Gall where he sings in the choir. He is the one that no one wants with a operetic voice so in demand it becomes his curse. Gothic in tone with gorgeous language that has an ear for sound this book will pull you into the landscape of the Swiss Alps, Mozart’s Vienna, and Moses’ world. -Marie “A surprising love story of the unlikely places family is to be found, with a cast of endearing characters. Just imagine – a romantic, love-drunk monk! I also found myself reacting in much the same way as when I read Sarah Dunant’s SACRED HEARTS. Her novel sparked a brief obsession with nuns. I sought more information on young aristocratic girls forced into convents in Italy. And with THE BELLS, I wanted to learn more about the castrati; those young boys in Italy physically assaulted and altered in order to preserve their voices.” -Erica

  • Petra
    2019-02-22 10:01

    I truly enjoyed this story of love, loyalty, being true and steadfast. The author focussed completely on the texture of sound, how sound reverberates through life, life, friendship. Sound is a symbol of Life, felt at it's deepest and most pure. I really liked how "bells" played such a large role in this book and portrayed truth, solidity, joy, pain and, most of all, love. This book has been said to "do for sound what Perfume: The Story of a Murderer did for smell" and, having read Perfume, I'd have to agree.

  • Lu
    2019-01-24 11:15

    Questa è la storia di Moses, piccolo, sensibile, indifeso bambino della Svizzera del 18° secolo, che inizia il viaggio della sua vita in uno sperduto villaggio montano dove la madre, derelitta e sorda, vive con due soli amori: il figlio e le campane della chiesa cittadina. Ed è con questo potente e roboante suono, che il piccolo Moses inizia il suo particolare ed intimo rapporto con l’infinito e vasto e misterioso mondo dei suoni. Il suo udito sopraffino gli permette di vedere una dimensione di questo nostro vivere celato a tutti gli altri. Sarà questo enorme dono che lo accompagnerà e soprattutto lo guerderà nel difficile e sofferto percorso che lo vedrà protagonista.Richard Harvell mi ha colpita con la sua prosa deliziosa e melodiosa; ci sono passaggi che hanno un sapore del tutto unico e speciale leggendoli. Affermazione forse stramba, ma che spiega in modo perfetto lo stile dell’autore. Harvell riesce a far assaporare la melodia delle parole, dei gesti, dei momenti, rendendo la lettura di questo titolo una esperienza veramente piacevole, che resterà con il lettore per molto, molto tempo dopo averlo concluso.Purtroppo, e questo è l’unico punto debole di tutta la lettura, e che ovviamente è da vedere nel contesto del mio personale gusto, ho trovato un po’ in ribasso gli ultimissimi capitoli. La lettura di L’esatta melodia dell’aria è un crescendo di emozioni, tale da avermi fatto sperare in un finale così perfetto ed entusiasta da far meritare al titolo un pieno cinque stelle. Ahimè così non è stato; ho trovato la parte finale un po’ scontata, un po’ prevedibile e ‘stonata’ rispetto a tutto quanto avvenuto in precedenza. Tuttavia, questa unica opera di Richard Harvell, oltre all’aver meritato per me 4 stelle, finisce dritta in quelle letture che identifico come le mie preferite in assoluto. L’esatta melodia dell’aria è un titolo che tutti dovrebbero leggere, perché riempie il cuore di melodie dolci e sincere, dalle quali non ci si vorrebbe separare mai.

  • Lori
    2019-02-13 11:12

    This was another wonderful recommendation from Books on the Nightstand. I'll not go into much detail laying out the general storyline because you can read that elsewhere and it just doesn't adequately prepare you for what an amazing jewel this book is. The description from the Goodreads summary reveals that the main character, "was born in a belfry high in the Swiss Alps where his mother served as the keeper of the loudest and most beautiful bells in the land. Shaped by the bells’ glorious music, as a boy he possessed an extraordinary gift for sound. But when his preternatural hearing was discovered—along with its power to expose the sins of the church—young Moses Froben was cast out of his village with only his ears to guide him in a world fraught with danger." This story delves into the world of Europe's celebrated Opera houses from centuries past as well as the unique existence of the castrati, young boys routinely castrated in order to maintain their angelic voices. See, you just winced just like my husband did when I mentioned that, didn't you? I listened to this one and found the production quality and narration excellent. This is a story along the lines of "Amadeus" that completely and wonderfully immerses you in this very foreign world. I am a music lover, especially classical, and even though opera is not my favorite musical venue, this made me long for a good aria. I have read on other forums that there are complete lists of all of the music that is so beautifully mentioned in this book. I am familiar with some but not all of the music listed here and seeking out the rest of the musical selections are now on my "to do" list.This is a beautifully told, lyrical story that I found immensely satisfying.

  • Cydnie
    2019-01-26 13:03

    When I read the write-up in the paper about this novel it sounded like an interesting book. As a music lover, the idea of a book based on a singer and sounds seemed a good fit. I really tried to like it, but it didn't happen. I can't blame it on being the product of a first-time author, because I have read a number of first-novels this year and loved them.Things I liked:1. The descriptions of sounds and the way that the vibrations affected the body and inanimate objects.2. The characters were distinct and well written.3. Word-pictures were well done, in that I could easily 'see' what was going on.[that's important to me]4. Nothing that really made me say, "Oh yuck, why did they put that in?"5. I gained an understanding of the life of a castrato/musico. I had heard of them, but didn't know much about them. Great descriptions of their physical traits.Things I disliked:1. When Moses is young he uses his gift of understanding sound to help him sneak into people's homesto steal food to sustain him and his mother. As an adult, he sneaks into people's homes to listen to them make love. Creepy!2. Moses steals away another man's wife [his former 'lover'] and then the man's child [because he thinks that he deserves the child] and that is supposed to be okay. Not.3. The story kept dragging out for over 300 pages. It felt plodding at times.Not a book that I would push friends to read. I kept reading it because I had too much time invested and kept hoping it would get moving. It was okay, but nothing stunning.

  • Christy B
    2019-01-31 10:56

    I've read a few books this year that have impressed me, but I've been waiting for a book like this. The kind of book that grabs me and doesn't let go, not even long after I'm finished. The kind of book whose story will always linger in my mind.The Bells is the story of Moses, a boy whose voice enchants anyone who hears, but like so many boys of the time, Moses is a victim of castration, an act that will preserve his beautiful voice, but cause him both great physical and emotional pain. He both hides and questions himself and no longer shares his voice. He becomes a shadow at night, exploring the surrounding town, listening and watching. This is a story of love, friendship, sacrifice, loyalty, and weaving through it all: music. The descriptions of music in this book were absolutely breathtaking. It truly captured how music can move a person both in their soul and body, whether they are they creator or the listener. At one point, Moses uses his voice to reach out to his love, who does not recognize him. A truly moving moment. Taking place in 18th century Switzerland and Vienna, The Bells is a truly brilliant piece of work not just for fans of historical fiction, but for any fan of good fiction. It's one of few books that have truly moved me; a very unique story.

  • Almeta
    2019-02-17 12:11

    The marketing comparison of The Bells to Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is misleading and appropriate at the same time.The Bells, like Perfume, is an adventure story, but of a far different nature. The characters that helped or hindered the hero’s progress were fun to get to know. I feel that books could be produced about their adventures as well. Like what Anne Rice did with all of the vampire characters.Speaking of Anne Rice; the comparison should have paralleled Cry to Heaven.The Bells did amplify my senses for the perfect sound, therefore can be compared to Perfume's ability to heighten my sense of smell. The association stops there.Throughout the book I couldn’t stop thinking about how much a sound could hurt, a smell doesn’t hurt. Er wait, maybe English Leather and dirty socks do!

  • Freyja Vanadis
    2019-02-04 14:17

    Strange book. I have absolutely no idea why I put it on my wish list, or where I even heard of it.-----editI finally finished it this evening. Oh my god, what a ridiculously silly book and what a terrible waste of time. If I could've given it negative stars, I would. I don't even want to begin to describe what happens in the story or what the characters are like. If I didn't have such a strong aversion to throwing books away, that's exactly what I'd do to this one. Instead, I hope someone takes it off my hands as soon as possible.

  • Farrah
    2019-01-25 11:01

    This book was terribly written and plotted. It read like a striving first novel - full of flowery sentences with way too many descriptors and overwrought similes. The plot was totally inane and unbelievable. Too bad because the subject - eunuch opera singer in 1700's orphaned and raised by monks - sounded like it could be interesting. It was all I could do to finish it - probably should have just given up.

  • Bailey Meeker
    2019-01-31 07:24

    I received this book through a goodreads giveaway.This must be the noisiest book I have ever read. Everything, from the way that an opera house amplifies a note to the breath and heartbeat of each individual character, is described in terms of sound. And not just how sounds sound, but how they feel, the emotions they portray, and what they mean to the characters, even those less musically gifted than Moses. This book couldn't be more full of music if it came with a sound track! In fact, that would almost ruin it for you. You need to hear your own music, or the book would not be any good. Any real sounds could never match these descriptions.I could say that this is a coming of age novel, and in some ways it is, but that sort of novel is praised so often I'm afraid you wouldn't understand what I mean. I can say the book is very good, I can give it five stars, but can I convince you it isn't just something you read to seem "literary"? Let me put it this way: I would rather have read this than Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man my senior year of high school. There would be no contest.I was slightly worried that the book would get too "emo" or that it wouldn't have any potential for action. I didn't even consider these problems after a while. Moses's voice is clear and honest, and he doesn't spend much time whining about his life (although he would be completely justified). His true love is a practical and stubborn young woman, who refuses as best as she can her role as a proper young lady. Moses's surrogate parents are a pair of gay monks, who bicker like an old married couple. And there's no lack of action either! You grow to love the characters you are supposed to love. You cry at their misfortunes and laugh at their triumphs.And if you're a fan of Gluck... well let's just say Moses singing Che Faro Senza Euridice is one of the most anticipated moments in the book. Seriously... just get the book. Your ears will thank you.

  • Meredith
    2019-02-19 15:05

    Moses, haunted by sound from a young age, has an abnormally acute sense of hearing. He grows up listening his mother ring the church bells every day and finds that his ear can dissect sound, reducing it to its barest elements -- a gift that brings him endless misfortune. His father attempts to stifle that gift, reaching into his ears to deafen him, and Ulrich attempts to immortalize it by castrating him. It is the latter of these two acts of violence that defines Moses' life.The Bells is as much a celebration of sound as it is a tragedy. As other reviewers have mentioned, this book does for sound what Süskind's Perfume did for smell. As Moses makes his way from the church tower to the monastery to Vienna, he unveils a universe not of architectural landmarks and scenery, but of sound. We experience the world as he does: on an auditory level. The writing is descriptive and evocative, but never excessive.Perhaps the one weakness in this book is the progression of the love story between Moses and Amalia. What begins as a touching, unique connection steeped in sound and vaguely reminiscent of The Phantom of the Opera (although, in this case, it is Amalia who wears a blindfold because Moses does not want her to see him) ends somewhat predictably. Still, the overall story is unspeakably poignant and a must-read for classically trained musicians. Harvell has made his mark with this extraordinary debut.(Disclaimer: I received the galleys of this title from Crown for review.)

  • Kate Z
    2019-02-20 09:59

    I really enjoyed this book, start to finish. Part character drama, part love story, part historical fiction, this is the story of Moses Froben, a "castrato" or "musico".One review on the front cover says that this book is a "story to tickle the senses as much as the mind" and I agree with that. I loved the novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and how the protagonist experienced the world through her sense of taste. This novel was similar in the way that Moses interacts with the world via sound and I found those sections to be the most moving and lyrical of the novel. From an abbey deep in Switzerland, Moses later moves to Vienna and there some of the sound navigation drops and the novel moves a bit from literature to story - although I thought Harvell regained his footing in that sense a bit later on.The characters are richly drawn and I felt as though I knew each of them intimately - from Moses' mother and father, to the monks, Nicolai and Remus, who rescue him, to the great musical influences of Ullrich and the abbot Staundach and later the Viennese musico and his patrons. I really enjoyed this book and didn't hesitate to give it 4 stars. This book made me want to readCry to Heaven which, I'm told, really goes into the larger story of the castratos of the 18th century Europe.

  • Diana
    2019-02-21 08:18

    The story follows the life of Moses Froben from boyhood to fame as an opera singer during the 1700's. He is born in a belfry in Sitzerland where his deaf mother is the keeper of the bells. When it is discovered he is not deaf and can proclaim the sins of the local church, he is ousted from the village. Later, he is rescued from drowning in a river and taken to live in an abbey. The choirmaster discovers his singing talent and in order to preserve it, he has Moses forcibly castrated. According to the author's notes, this was a practice especially in Italy during the 1700's and into the 1800's. These men were called musicos or angels. (According to a friend of mine, the Church considered women to be "fallen" beings so needed to have men who could sing the higher octave.) In the abby, Moses goes from being treasured for his singing ability to being made a novice who is no longer allowed to sing. His love for a young woman eventually leads to his search for happiness as he journies from Switzerland to Venice, to an apprenticeship in a renowed theatre, and eventually, a successful career. Some events in the book are totally unrealistic and simply not plausible. However, the mechanics of Harvell's writing made the book easy to read. Because I found the whole idea of musicos so repulsive, it had a negative effect on my enjoyment of the story. This was my book club pick and certainly not my favorite.

  • Danielle
    2019-02-20 13:02

    I wish I could convey how much I loved this book without sounding like a gushing teeny bopper. Harvell's straight-forward writing and beautiful descriptions wrapped me up and carried me along on a fascinating journey. Every character felt so real to me, and the story was so wonderful. I loved the historical setting, and the way that the theme of the bells was woven throughout.A few reasons why this was a five-star book for me, but may not necessarily be so for you:1. It dealt heavily with music, which I love.2. It was set in the Swiss Alps, an area I have visited, and which is just so beautiful that I would have enjoyed reading about pretty much anything that happened there.3. Before reading this one I had just finished a string of mediocre fiction, and was beginning to doubt that there were any decent modern authors out there. This forcefully restored my faith in good writing and storytelling.4. I love books that convey a sense of place. I will never live in an 18th century Swiss monastary, but I got to experience what that was like through this book. Those are my disclaimers to my gushing. Even without those plusses, though, this is a solidly 4-star book, and if you're looking for a tantalizing story with great writing, you will not be disappointed.

  • Marlene
    2019-02-19 13:56

    Very seldom, if ever, have I rated a book that I closed and didn't finish reading. But there were parts in the very first part of this book that enchanted me and the writing was good. Then it got horrifying and I was unable to finish. Am I too old or have my years made me too sensitive to a young boy being forcibly castrated and being totally unaware of what was happening to him by prideful and power hungry church leaders. Do I hate the look into the lives of homosexual or bi-sexual monks who raise children, all be it they tried. Do I hold monks and pious church people to a standard that doesn't include violent murder? I closed the book. I guess what I was projecting as I thought of this young man listening to other people have sex and wishing for a life he couldn't have. Could singing be worth it? Maybe I tried to read it at the wrong time of life or maybe because I tried to read it following another book that I struggled through. I could never recommend this book other than very cautiously.

  • Mark
    2019-02-14 14:18

    “First there were the bells…”Life didn’t look very promising, for young Moses Froben. The bastard son, of a strange deaf-mute woman, who’s sole occupation is to ring the “Loudest and Most Beautiful Bells” in the country. Moses was born in this belfry, high in the Swiss Alps and has lived here in quiet solitude with his mother. The boy does possess an acute, almost unworldly sense of hearing and later on it’s discovered he also has a wonderful singing voice.These gifts, set Moses on a journey, where he ends up living with monks and singing in choirs. It also introduces him to the horror of castration, used regularly in the 18th century to preserve an angelic voice.I know very little about opera or the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but I was swept away with the beauty of this book. It’s a story about love, music and friendship but also contains the darker elements in life, like cruelty, envy and deception.A very impressive first novel.

  • Candice
    2019-02-09 08:19

    This was an amazing book. A man has written to the boy whom he raised as his son, the story of his life - and what a story! Born to a deaf mother in a bell tower in the 18th century Swiss Alps, Moses Froben goes on to become Lo Svizzero, one of the most highly acclaimed opera singers in Europe. How he got from the bell tower to Europe's celebrated opera houses is an astonishing tale. His father tries to kill him. He is rescued by two monks and taken to the monestary where his beautiful voice is discovered. To preserve that astounding voice, he is castrated. And eventually he ends up in Vienna at the premiere of Orpheus and Eurydice. Beautiful writing with lovely descriptions of the sounds heard by Moses's very sensitive ears. Engaging characters. A bit melodramatic at times, but that added to the appeal of this story that I couldn't put down and didn't want to end.

  • C.M. Spivey
    2019-01-23 10:02

    I loved this book. The jacket claimed that "'The Bells' does for the ears what 'Perfume' did for the nose," and the reviewer was completely on the mark. 'Perfume' is one of my favorite books because it was such a sensory experience. Similarly, 'The Bells' heightens your awareness of sound even as you read, sympathizing with Moses as he experiences and defines the world through sound. Unlike 'Perfume''s Grenouille, though, Moses is a very sympathetic and lovable character; he is as dear and true and honest as any protagonist I've ever read about. The vivid writing and deeply developed characters, as well as the gentle yet earnest plot progression, make 'The Bells' a very, very enjoyable read.