The main plot line in this novel for younger readers explores how an American family adjusts to two major upheavals in their lives: first, the recent death of the mother; and second, moving to Wales to live there for a year. The subplot concerns the discovery by one of them of an ancient harp-tuning key that brings him visions of the past. When elements of these visions begin to assume reality in his own world, the need to find a solution to all these problems becomes even more urgent.
The story begins when fifteen-year-old Jennifer Morgan joins the rest of her family in the little Welsh town of Borst for a Christmas holiday. Despite the recent death of his wife, their father has decided to go ahead with the long-planned year’s sabbatical leave at the university in nearby Aberystwyth. He had taken the two younger children with him but left Jennifer to continue school back in Amherst, Massachusetts. The struggle to deal with both their personal grief over their unexpected loss and the drastic changes this loss causes within the family exacerbates the difficulties in the process of adjusting from their comfortable pattern of life in America to the very different world in which they now find themselves, with its wild terrain, ill-heated buildings, strange customs, and almost perpetual rain. Twelve-year-old Peter resents living in a place he finds so desolate and wants only to return home. His bitter arguments with his father upset ten-year-old Becky, who...
(The entire section is 512 words.)