Transworld has pre-empted an “uplifting, heart-warming and accessible” reading group novel by debut author and musician Hazel Prior, born out of a passion for harps.
Touching on love, friendship, kindness and generosity, according to Transworld Ellie and the Harp-maker will appeal to readers of The Keeper of Lost Things, Three Things about Elsie and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It will be published by Bantam Press in hardback in March 2019.
Prior herself is a freelance harpist and her novel centres on housewife Ellie Jacobs’ unexpected encounter with Dan Hollis, a harp-maker, in his remote workshop on Exmoor and their burgeoning friendship. Through Dan’s untraditional view of the world, he helps Ellie to discover the joy found in the simplicities of a life lived slowly (he counts the toadstools on his morning walk - 317, the plums on a nearby tree - 87, and the harps he builds in his workshop - 37). When he decides to give Ellie one of his harps, his kindness becomes the light which opens up Ellie’s previously small world.
An early draft of Ellie and the Harp-maker was shortlisted for the MsLexia Women’s Novel Prize. Editorial director at Transworld, Francesca Best, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in the title and a second novel from Darley Anderson. Rights have so far been sold in the US, Germany, Serbia and Sweden.
Best said: “Hazel Prior has skilfully woven a lyrical, charming love story that has captured my heart as well as the rest of the team’s – it will certainly capture many more. Ellie and the Harp-maker is a warm, funny and deceptively light novel which incorporates many important messages about relationships, parenthood, fulfilment and the natural world which will strike a chord with readers.”
Prior said: “The book was born out of my passion for several things: harps, trees, Exmoor, quirkiness, unexpected discoveries… and it has, in turn, been an unexpected discovery for me. I am overjoyed that it has evoked such heartfelt enthusiasm from Francesca and the whole Transworld team. It is a real privilege to work with them. I am immensely grateful to Darley Anderson and Transworld for all the energy and inspiration they’ve poured into Ellie and the Harp-Maker.”