A String in the Harp Essay - Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series A String in the Harp Analysis

Nancy Bond

Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series A String in the Harp Analysis

Setting is an important element in A String in the Harp. The weather, geography, natural history, and archaeology of Wales become as immediate as the characters and the action. The Welsh characters are guides for Peter and his sisters as they explore notions of folklore, superstition, and the nature of magic. In the presence of the timeless landscape of the novel and of modern people who live among ancient things, it is easy to believe that Peter can slip back in time and witness the events of the sixth century. Through the action of the novel, Bond is able to express the feeling that ancient history is alive in a place as old and wild as Wales.

Bond fills the book with observant details of contemporary life in a small seaside town in winter. The summer cottage with its garish lounge and drafty bedrooms, the food that the Morgans’ housekeeper cooks for them, the cadence of Welsh speech, the dismal rainswept town, and the dripping wellies (boots) and mackintoshes (raincoats) are all vividly pictured. The physical details and sensations of the Welsh atmosphere trigger the time-shifts—as when the rainstorm that is so severe that Rhian cannot return to her farm blurs into the ancient flood, or when the modern family walking along the beach, alone with the birds and the sea, scans the horizon and sees the sails of the boats of the Irish raiders that have kidnapped Taliesin.

Bond uses the Welsh characters of Gwilym and Rhian to link the...

(The entire section is 596 words.)