Rachel Joyce 2017 Transworld Books
I’m not always the quickest to read my Goldsboro Books, Book of the Month for no other reason than there are so many books on my TBR. However after reading a fair bit of crime this month I fancied something different. Perusing my bookshelf The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce stood out and what a wonderful choice it proved to be.
From the Blurb –
1988 Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk – as long as it’s vinyl, he sells it. Day afterday, Frank finds his customers the music they need.
Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann.
Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind.
The music shop is about learning how to listen and how to feel; it’s about second chances and choosing to be brave despite the odds. Because in the end, music can save us all.
This book is about everything described in the blurb, and so much more. It is a tender nostalgic tale of the high street, the local shops and the community. And in this story the record shop, selling only vinyl records is the central point, run by Frank, a kind man who helps people feel better by advising them on their music choices.
The introduction of cassettes and CDs in this story reflects the wider changes in the world, superstores and shopping malls marking the demise of the independent seller and the community feel of the local high street. This book starkly captures the impact of this from the description of dereliction and loss of those friendships, made special by proximity.
Central to the story are Frank and Ilse who meet in the record shop and are the talk of the community as their friendship develops and their feelings for each other are evident to all but them. This story is lovely, the chapters are song titles and as songs often do, they tell the tale. For readers of a certain age this has a very special nostalgic charm, references to Woolworths, Our Price and Pick ‘n’ Mix took me right back to my youth, and of course the purchasing of records, the sounds between the songs and the A and B Sides. The characters are delightful, a motley crew of shop keepers, residents, the local undertakers and of course the bank manager, all converging on Frank’s shop to pass the time of day and acquire the soundtrack to keep their life on track.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything I have read by Rachel Joyce, however for reasons unknown it is not until I pick up the next book by this author that I remember how excellent her books consistently are. I am inclined to say this is her best book so far but as per the sentence above this may be simply because I have just finished it! Either way highly recommended for a heartwarming, nostalgic piece of general fiction.