REVIEW: Ellen the Harpist by Diane Michaels
Single. Inept at flirting. But at least she has talent and a sense of humor. The problem is, she’s often the punchline.
Ellen Blum is pretty good at convincing herself she is an adult. Despite her difficulties, she’s proud of the cred she has earned serenading brides down the aisle with her harp. Doesn’t being 27 and paying her rent on time prove she’s a grown-up?
Not so much, according to her personal chorus of critics. And as she dodges the barbs and petty crimes of her bosses and copes with a family crisis, she feels more like a child than ever. She has her heart set on silencing her critics and teaching them — and maybe herself — a new tune. But becoming more than the person described on her business card is even trickier than moving her harp.
Dear Ms. Michaels,
I love harp music so when Jane featured this book during – IIRC – the weekly new releases – ages ago, I know – I added it to my wish list. Then I promptly took half a year to read it. As you are a professional harpist, I know you know of what you speak and can see that you have lived the harp moving Olympics and wedding ceremony playing life. “Here She Comes” and “There She Goes.” I can’t imagine hauling a harp around. My sister got enough “don’t you wish you played a violin” comments during her cello playing that eventually she did switch. Brava to you for sticking with it.
The book has a definite chick lit style so readers should be aware. Ellen is a little frumpy, doesn’t have perfect hair, gets grief from her mother about dating and picks up harp engagements rather than playing for a professional orchestra but she’s a sweetheart.
She’s also funny with a dry wit. I love how she and Josh meet and engage in music humor together. Is this a musician thing? – as they have plenty of viola jokes plus Ellen’s roomies and besties music joke too. So Classy! The behind-the-scenes at the weddings are priceless and I assume the product of your own experiences.
There’s a snarky Evil Other Flutist Ellen has to deal with but it’s balanced by the nice parts with her musician friends. The book deviates just a little from CL of old with Ellen actually having a relationship with someone else once she feels Josh is romantically out of the picture. There’s lots of flailing around after a hot guy, with the hot guy, thinking of the hot guy and – I was waiting for it all along – losing the hot guy and then wallowing in a tremendous crying funk.
Still since it’s Chick Lit, Ellen will be done over and by more than one person. Her reasons for not lashing out at those who do this are actually legitimate – familial, social and professional. It still hurts to watch her get the woes of her world dumped on her but she actually acts like a professional unlike some other CL heroines of my past reading. What kick starts her out of it is painful for her to experience and to read since it causes her and her family such grief. It does get her to think about her life and the advice she wishes her father could give her.
Now will she finally put her hard won lessons to good use? By golly yes. Then all her wedding savvy, experience and professional cards she’s accumulated over the years come to the rescue of a wedding ceremony about to implode. The resolution is a little Nancy Drew-ish but still cute to watch Ellen truly save the day. But what about her friend’s relationships? With no resolutions for either I wonder if there is a sequel in the works.
I loved the music and the music jokes. Ellen’s tendency to whine a bit got a little tiresome but she finally does learn from her mistakes and changes her outlook and way to deal with life. It’s traditional that it takes almost the whole book for a CL heroine to finally get her guy and it’s no different here but with the harp/viola/violin gigs they play, at least he’s still in the book all the way through. B