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That's What She Read

The Bells

The Bells - Richard Harvell The Bells is one of those novels that starts out slowly, leaving the reader confused and uncertain about whether to continue, but soon builds to the point where the reader finds himself or herself obsessed with Moses' story. One quickly forgets that the narrator is really Moses' son reading a letter from Moses and becomes immersed in Moses' plight, from his heart-wrenching beginnings to a thrilling climactic rescue mission. It is enough to leave the reader breathless.This is one novel where reading it does not do Mr. Harvell's words justice. So much of the novel revolves around music, that one truly needs to experience the songs mentioned to get the scope of Moses' story. Just how high is he talking about when he talks about singing as a soprano? What song moves Moses to tears? Paul Michael Garcia actually sings while narrating. While he is no musico, his voice does provide the reader with a better understanding of what is being discussed in the novel and greater insight into Moses. It becomes a truly auditory experience that enhances one's enjoyment of the story.So much of The Bells is spent discussing Moses' castration. The castration scene itself ranks up there among one of the most horrifying and sad scenes in literature, but it is how others treat Moses once his secret becomes known that really piques the reader's interest. I became so interested in the Castrati that I ended up doing my own Google search to find out more of what their life was like. What I found left me cringing and slightly sick to my stomach. This article by Tony Perrottet not only explained some of the more mysterious, and hinted-at points of the novel and also provides an audio of one of the last Castrato. It is haunting, disturbing, and makes Moses that much more real and sympathetic.The Bells is not for everyone. It moves slowly at times, as Moses meanders his way to his point. Mr. Harvell's portrayal of the Church highlights its hypocrisy, and his descriptions of a musico's life, however accurate, are so unusual that it does take a strong leap of faith by the reader to overcome all stereotypes and preconceptions. Yet, if the reader takes the time to sit back and let the words swirl around one, The Bells plays out like a beautiful symphony, perfectly timed and so expressive it moves one to tears. It transcends any particular label and forces the reader to reconsider the true meaning of love. In a word, The Bells is simply stunning and worth the effort required to get into this unusual novel.