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Extended Audio Sample The Bells: A Novel, by Richard Harvell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,679 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Harvell Narrator: Paul Michael Garcia Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Astonishing in its originality, epic in its scope, luminous in its richness, The Bells is a novel to be savored.”

    Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author

  • The Bells does for the ears what Perfume did for the nose. A novel to engage the sense and tickle the mind.”

    Sarah Dunant, international bestselling author of Sacred Hearts

  • “Harvell has written an entertaining and eye-opening aria of a book.”

    Washington Post

  • “Narrator Paul Michael Garcia deftly draws listeners into the life of Moses Froben…Garcia’s narration brings the book’s distinctive characters to life, from the delicate phrasing of Moses to the low rumble of the giant monk Nicolai….The description of the ringing of the loudest bells in Europe—which stop oxen in their tracks and set men’s bowels quivering—is pitch-perfect, and the drama only builds from there.”


  • “Harvell has fashioned an engrossing first novel ringing with sounds; a musical and literary treat.”


  • “Harvell’s debut is saturated with sound…A poignant and acutely told story of the human spirit.”

    Library Journal

  • “When I look at my copy of The Bells sitting in front of me, I cannot believe it lies there immobile and lifeless…During the time I spent entranced with this story, my body rang like the bells within its pages…Harvell’s magical prose gives sound to Moses’ life: the bells, the arias, and the uneven breath of true love.”

    Historical Novels Review

  • Selected for the October 2010 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Michelle | 2/16/2014

    " I had this book on my Overdrive wishlist, but had kind of forgotten what it was about. I was in a historical-fiction kind of mood, and that's about all I remembered of this book, plus it was one of the few on my wishlist that had an available copy. (view spoiler)[Imagine my surprise when I realized the book was about a castrati.... (hide spoiler)] I enjoyed the narrative though, although I have to admit, I probably skimmed the descriptions of opera scenes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Leona | 2/2/2014

    " Great and very compelling so far! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Donna | 1/28/2014

    " About the Castrati (young boys who were castrated so their voices would remain a soprano) in Europe in the late 1700's. The story was about one young boy and what his life was like. Pretty interesting but a bit too much information for me on opera. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Andreea | 1/19/2014

    " A story like no other, beautiful, touching, different, just read it ! "

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About the Author
Author Richard Harvell

Richard Harvell was born in New Hampshire and studied English literature at Dartmouth College. He now lives in Basel, Switzerland, with his wife and son. This is his first novel.