One of the books I was most looking forward to reading this year was Rachel Joyce’s latest novel, The Music Shop. I am a fan of Rachel Joyce’s writing, having enjoyed her previous works which include the bestselling The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry and its companion novel, The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessey. So needless to say I was delighted to receive a proof copy of The Music Shop ahead of its publication next month.
The events in this novel take place predominantly in the late 1980’s, where we meet Frank, the owner of a music shop. Frank is passionate about records of all kinds. He stocks vinyl records of all types and genres, and is devoted to finding the right music to fit his customers – to him music is a crucial part of our lives, something which we all need. And despite others urging him to stock CD’s, advising Frank that vinyl is on its way out, he remains determined to keep his shop as it is. Then one day, someone walks into Frank’s life that changes its path. He meets Ilse Brauchmann, a woman who appears outside his shop in her striking pea-green coat. There is a mystery surrounding Ilse that leaves Frank intrigued, and wanting to find out more about this woman who wishes to learn about music, and who she really is. And along the way we learn more about Ilse, as well as more about Frank and his own personal journey.
As is typical of Rachel Joyce’s novels, the stories are beautifully written and the characters portrayed wonderfully. I quickly warmed to Frank and the nostalgic feel of his music shop and his passion for it. I was also interested to find out more about him and the events that helped shape his life, and of course I was interested to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Ilse Brauchmann and what led her to enter Frank’s life. Whilst most of the events occur in 1988 we also see events prior to that in relation to Frank’s home life and family relationships in which we discover that there are memories and old wounds that are proving difficult to heal, a past that is hard to leave behind. And the past is also something that has impacted his new companion Ilse, and it was great to see how the relationship between them develops, and how the music they share proves to be so important to them both. The music itself plays a key role in this novel and there are lots of details about records and music with references to particular songs and artists and the emotions they evoke. Through Frank and his shop Rachel Joyce has written a story which shows how music plays an important role in our lives, and how it can represent particular moments or periods of time.
The Music Shop is a well written and enjoyable read which explores music and companionship and how they can help provide a second chance, and to help come to terms with the past.
The Music Shop is to be published on 13th July 2017 by Doubleday. Many thanks to Alison Barrow for providing a proof copy for review.