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It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb there is a music shop that stands small and brightly lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift; Frank, the shop's owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. Then, one day, into his shop comes a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, who asks Frank to teach her about music. Terrified of real closeness, Frank feels compelled to turn and run, yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems, and Frank has old wounds that threaten to reopen, as well as a past it seems he will never leave behind. Can a man who is so in tune with other people's needs be so incapable of connecting with the one person who might save him? The journey that these two quirky, wonderful characters make in order to overcome their emotional baggage speaks to the healing power of music - and love - in this poignant, ultimately joyful work of fiction.
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By Emily - Audible on 01-11-18
Another thing of beauty from Rachel Joyce
How I love Rachel Joyce. In The Music Shop we meet Frank, an eternal optimist who knows about almost nothing except music, and who believes his vinyl record shop—which is struggling to remain relevant amidst the rise of CDs in 1980's Britain—is his venue by which to help the world. He has the intuitive ability to know what records people need to hear, and has even saved a marriage or two through his almost magical curation skills. Music geeks will eat this up (who doesn't want to hear Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata described as "punk"), but as in all of Joyce's stories, the true elegance comes from her identification of the turning points in a person's life. What are those micro-traumas that set a child on their seemingly accidental path; what was that moment of (in)decision that changed everything? As a parent, Joyce's prescience terrifies me, but I also can't look away. As a bonus track (pun!) Steven Hartley's narration—Google him, you know this guy—is masterful: in turns obsessively enthusiastic and heartbreaking, especially amazing given that it’s his first turn behind the mic.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
By Janice on 01-05-18
Hallelujah . . Hallelujah!!
Having loved both “Harold Fry” and “Perfect”, I downloaded this new Rachel Joyce release as soon as I saw it, and it jumped straight to the top of my listening list. And here in the first week of the new year, I wonder if there can possibly be a book that will top this wonderful story for the rest of 2028.
Joyce has imbued her eclectic cast of characters with life, humor, generosity, yearning and raw emotions. A true community of people who look out for each other even in the face of threats from developers and competition from slick franchise merchandisers gives us something to root for – for the neighbors individually and collectively. Frank, with his giant heart and personality is the glue holding the little strip of shop owners together. We yearn for him to finally find the right one to allow him to emerge from his carefully cultivated emotional shell that keeps him protected from any romantic commitment.
I was delighted by the many musical references punctuating the narrative, many familiar, some sending me to Google for enlightenment. Joyce drew me into this community from the first words, and never let me go until, surrounded by an alarming pile of tissues, I came to the resolution of the lives of people I have come to love dearly. This was a one-day listen, causing me to shamefully neglect my daily routine until I turned my pod off in the wee hours, thoroughly satisfied. Very highly recommended.
28 of 31 people found this review helpful