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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.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
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.
23 of 26 people found this review helpful