A String in the Harp Critical Essays

Nancy Bond

Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy A String in the Harp Analysis

A String in the Harp, Nancy Bond’s first novel, draws on both the traditional story of Taliesin and the author’s personal experience living in Great Britain, especially a year spent studying at the university in Aberystwyth. The novel won critical acclaim as a Newbery honor book and a Boston Globe-Horn Book honor book, as well as receiving awards from the International Reading Association and the Welsh Arts Council. Bond continued to write juvenile novels, many of which deal with problems of adjustment.

The drastic changes imposed on the entire family in A String in the Harp present them with challenges from which they initially recoil. They are too preoccupied with their own grief at the mother’s death to do other than resent their new circumstances. It is only when they recognize the dangers of withdrawing into their own private world of self-pity that they can begin the painful process of healing. This they achieve by paying attention not to their own feelings, but to the feelings of others.

The crucial first step is Jennifer’s decision to stay with her family. This involves personal sacrifice, but it encourages others to respond in their turn, particularly her father, who starts to spend more time with his children instead of seeking refuge in his work. As the psychological health of the family improves, all benefit, even Peter, who is the most alienated.

Peter’s visions of Taliesin serve a...

(The entire section is 405 words.)