A surprisingly believable and compelling tale written from the unusual perspective of the bastard son of an 18th century, deaf bell ringer in the Swiss alps. The boy has a preternatural gift for hearing and a remarkable singing voice. The reality of life in those times and within the realm of the church was not always as beautiful as the sounds generated by it. This book manages to be a magical aural experience in which the boy struggles against unthinkable hardships to create beauty around him. — Heather Bellanca
“Young Moses Froben sings like an angel and possesses an otherworldly sense of hearing. These gifts carry him through a life rich in opportunity, while burdening him with unimaginable pain. Set in the Swiss Alps and Vienna in the mid-18th century, Harvell's first novel is a feat of storytelling and rich, descriptive writing. Most striking is his ability to describe sounds and music--an achievement that brings the story and characters to vibrant life in a unique way.”
— Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
Dazzling, enchanting, and epic, The Bells is the confession of a thief, kidnapper, and unlikely lover-a boy with the voice of an angel whose exquisite sense of hearing becomes both his life's tragic curse and its greatest blessing.
Moses Froben was born in a belfry high in the Swiss Alps, the bastard son of a deaf-mute woman, banished to the church tower to ring the Loudest and Most Beautiful Bells in the land each day. His life is simple but content, until the day his father recognizes Moses' singular sense of hearing and its power to expose his sins. Cast into the world with only his ears to protect and guide him, Moses finds refuge in the choir of the historic Abbey of St. Gall and becomes its star singer, only to endure the horrifying act of castration, meant to preserve his angelic voice and turn him into a musico.
In a letter to his son, Moses recounts his humble birth in 18th-century Switzerland and his life as a novice monk, and he tells of the two noble friends-and a forbidden lover-whom he cherished during the chaotic years he spent in Mozart's Vienna as apprentice to the great Gaetano Guadagni. But in this letter he also reveals the astonishing secrets of his past and answers the question that has shadowed his fame: How did Moses Froben, world-renowned musico, come to raise a son he could never have sired?
Recounting his birth in the 1700s in a belfry high in the Alps, to his appearance on Europe's greatest stages, this epic novel is the story of the greatest ears on earth-from a deaf mother's cries, to the beating of a forbidden lover's heart, to the arias of Vienna's greatest opera house, and the deadly booming of the world's loudest, most glorious bells.