A STRING IN THE HARP by Nancy Bond

A STRING IN THE HARP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

At first the motherless American Morgans are miserable in Wales, where their withdrawn, newly widowed father has taken a teaching year at the University; fifteen-year-old Jen becomes even more worried about her uncharacteristically brooding brother Peter, twelve, when he tells her that he has found Taliesen's harp key and that through its powers he actually ""sees"" episodes in the life of the 6th-century bard. Soon, though, not only the boy but others in his presence begin to observe strange events and appearances that can only be explained by his story. How Peter evades a relentless museum director and finally ""gives back"" the key to Taliesen constitutes the major plot of this relatively mild adventure involving no high deeds or danger to the children; the family's gradual healing and emotional reunion is seen as the more important outcome. Surprisingly, Bond has squeezed a solid, readable story out of this nearly exhausted tradition. The bits of imagined past are incorporated without a break in the rhythm or shift of scene; the four family members and their various new friends are separately likable despite their familiarity as types; the harsh Welsh climate and countryside are newly realized; and the key's uncertain future maintains tension to the appropriate end. Further, this avoids the solemn airs and tremulous harpstrings that fantasies of this ilk and length pass off as serious import.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1976
Page count: 370pp
Publisher: Atheneum