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Like Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which I loved, The Music Shop has the ingredients for a quirky, tender love story filled with the sort of people whom nobody really notices in real life but who Joyce fills with achingly human longings for tenderness - that feeling Joyce describes as though someone has put a cosy coat around you and done the buttons up.
It’s the 1980s Frank runs a vinyl record shop; he shuns CDs and sells only vinyl 'black as liquorice and twice as shiny'. He prescribes music from Punk to Berlioz, Aretha Franklin to Beethoven, to all the damaged, hurt people who come to his shop and makes them better. But he can't be kind to himself or allow himself to love because of the crippling emotional damage done to him by his dreadful mother. One day Ilse Brauchmann appears outside his shop, an intriguing stranger in a pea-green coat - and Frank’s life is never the same again.
We can see that Ilse falls in love with Frank and although she is clearly what Frank always wanted, he can allow himself to talk to her only about music - music which is what he lives for and also what he hides behind. The story is about how these two lonely, sad people (and others – there are lots of characters) finally ..... but I won't spoil it. The delightfully uplifting story is beautifully told and doesn't go the way you think it will, but keeps twisting and turning. It's not just about the power of music, but also about changing times (there’s a 20-year gap in the story), the power of human love and kindness in a community, and how the most apparently ordinary and unfavoured people can triumph.
I was rather disappointed to start with –(a bit too sweet) - but the whole story gathered pace, grit and depth as it went on. Part parable, it combines, wit, whimsy and shrewdness and leaves you feeling as though your buttons have been securely done up!
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
A thoroughly engrossing tale of a mixed bag of everyday characters brought alive in simple but observant and telling detail. Listening made me join in with despairing or encouraging comments!
The healing power of music is a major part of the story beautifully described. An accompanying recording would be a bonus.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This was a beautiful story, though the main female character is a little hard to love the rich cast of other quirky characters makes up for her dryness.
The performance of the narrator is also wonderful and lists as the music he’s describing.
Thoroughly recommend this for the music lover, the lover, or the lost.
Beautiful beautiful beautiful.
I really enjoyed listening to this book. A lot to like. Full of music, simplicity, love, human frailty and innocence. Good ending - couldn’t keep a dry eye. I think it would make a great movie.