Friday, 14 July 2017

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

review by Maryom

On a run-down backstreet of a city lies a small parade of shops - a religious gift shop, an undertakers, a tattoo artist, a Polish bakery ... and a record shop, packed with everything from punk to classics. Arriving one day in his battered van carrying little besides his records, Frank has made the music shop his home, and his life's work, but this is the 80s, and a shop dedicated to vinyl is a rarity and not overly profitable. First cassettes, and now those new-fangled CDs have threatened to take over, while Frank continues to insist that the proper, if not the only, way to hear music is on a record. It's a rather quiet shop but the welcome Frank extends to everyone, and the gift he has for picking the right music to suit his customer's mood, has helped him build a regular clientele. Then one day Ilse Brauchmann finds her way to his shop - and collapses outside it.
Frank is drawn to her, but puzzled because that feeling he has of which music would sooth or cheer anyone else is entirely absent. How can he hope to connect with her?
At the same time, Frank and his neighbouring shop-owners are having to fend off the attentions of a property development company intent on buying out their businesses, demolishing the street and building something new, exciting, but lacking all charm, in its place.

Rachel Joyce's latest novel is a tale of two lonely, introverted people, determined to hide their hurts from the world but, after so long building barriers to hide behind, can they open up enough to let love in? There's a light, heart-warming, rom-com feel to The Music Shop (there are plenty of occasions when you can easily imagine how it would appear on film), with its two engaging 'leads' and support of quirky characters, and, after troubles that take the story in an unexpected direction, that welcome feel good ending. But at the same time, it speaks of the value of community in the face of faceless development businesses, of the possibility of second chances, and music can help when almost everything else fails

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Doubleday
Genre - adult fiction

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