Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior Questions for Discussion
1. There are plenty of memorable scenes in the novel. Which were your favorite moments and why?
2. Ellie has fallen in love with the idea of playing a harp. How does the reality compare with the dream? Do dreams ever turn out the way we expect?
3. Were you surprised that Dan makes beautiful harps but doesn’t play them? Why do you think that is?
4. Why does Dan think he isn’t made of the right ingredients? Are there any “right ingredients” for a relationship?
5. How do Ellie’s perceptions change throughout the novel: of Rhoda, of Clive and of herself? Can we ever really trust our own judgment of other people?
6. Dan says, “Music helps fill up the holes that people leave behind.” Is music a luxury or a lifeline? How does music change Ellie?
7. “As I watch from the window the landscape becomes wilder and hillier and sheepier. I feel that simultaneously I am becoming Dannier
. . . . Exmoor, in a way, is me.” Why are his surroundings so important to Dan? What does “home” mean to you, and what does your home say about your identity?
8. In what ways have Ellie and Dan been shaped by their parents? How does this bear on their decisions regarding Ed?
9. The fire brings several realizations to both Dan and Ellie. What are they? Has a crisis in your own life ever helped you see things afresh?
10. Why do you think Phineas the Pheasant is so important to Dan?
11. What are the different types of love in the novel? Which do you think is the strongest?
12. What do you think the future holds for Ellie, Dan and Ed?