Thursday, July 10, 2014

Moving Books(es): Charleen of Cheap Thrills

Welcome back to Moving Books(es)!

While I am in the midst of moving boxes from one state to another and getting settled in my new home, I have a handful of fabulous fellow bloggers stopping by to share their moving books(es) ... books that they feel have moved them in one way or another. Today, let us welcome Charleen of Cheap Thrills as she shares one of the books that has moved her.


One of my passions is music, so I'm always drawn to stories that incorporate it in one way or another. A lot of times I end up disappointed (I think it's inevitable, when I go in with such high hopes). But once in a while, my single-mindedness pays off, and I'm rewarded with a great story, made even greater by that personal connection.

The Bells, by Richard Harvell, is one of my all-time favorite books, and it's one I never would have picked up otherwise. Especially at the time I first read it, I didn't have much interest in historical fiction or literary fiction, so a literary historical novel was definitely not my thing.

But… music!

So I read it. And from beginning to end, I was completely enthralled. The main character lives through music… and not just what we think of music, but the entire world, sounds that we would take for granted or not even hear… it's all a symphony to him. And the author does an incredible job of bringing that music off the page and making it come alive. Even if I can't hear it, I can feel it.

And of course it helps that I've immersed myself in music and been moved by it myself, so it doesn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to experience the love and joy that Moses feels when he's surrounded by song.

There is more to the book than that; not unlike Moulin Rouge!, this story is about truth, beauty, freedom, and – above all – love. But so much of how these things are expressed is through music. Would a non-music-lover get as much out of it? It's hard to say… but I'd like to think that anyone who enjoyed this book would be moved to become a music-lover, if they weren't already.
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 being 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 at me sadly. "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.… 
And so you can imagine my surprise, a week after my father's death last spring, to find among his things this stack of papers. And more, to find within them all I had sought to know: of my father's birth and mine; of the origin of my name; of my mother; and of the crime that had kept my father silent. 

From this beginning, we learn of little Moses Froben, a boy with a remarkable gift, one that borders on magical realism. Moses leads a small and sheltered existence with his mother, until he's unfairly cast out into the world… changing the course of his life, for better or worse.

There are other music-centric novels that I've enjoyed, but none have come close to The Bells.


Thank you so much Charleen for sharing The Bells with us!  My grandfather was a music teacher, so music was and always will be a big part of my life.  I have never heard of this book before, but I guarantee it is now on my list of books to read, sooner rather than later!


  1. Thanks for having me!

  2. I am trying to remember a book I've read that featured music prominently. I can't. Doesn't mean I haven't but I can't remember off the top of my head. That probably means there is a hole in my liberal arts reading. ;)

    1. I have read a few, and so often I'm disappointed... either because the book doesn't live up to its potential (Good Things I Wish You, by A. Manette Ansay) or it's a book I'm not really interested in and only read it because of the music angle (Sight Reading, by Daphne Kalotay). I should really get more discerning about the books I choose, but I just can't seem to say no if music is involved!

  3. That was a VERY intriguing excerpt! I may be hooked....

    1. The prologue turns the book into one of those "we know (sort of) how it's going to end" books, which can be hit or miss for me depending on how they're told and how much is revealed. But this one I thought was beautifully done.


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