Summary and book reviews of The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop

A Novel

by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce X
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2018, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp
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About this Book

Book Summary

A love story and a journey through music, the exquisite and perfectly pitched new novel from the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy.

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.

1
The Man Who Only Liked Chopin

Frank sat smoking behind his turntable, same as always, watching the window. Mid-afternoon, and it was almost dark out there. The day had hardly been a day at all. A drop in temperature had brought the beginnings of a frost, and Unity Street glittered beneath the streetlights. The air had a Kind of Blue feel.

The other four shops on the parade were already closed, but he had put on the lava lamps and the electric fire. The music shop was warm and colorfully lit. At the counter, Maud the tattooist stood flicking through fanzines while Father Anthony made an origami flower. Saturday Kit had collected all the Emmylou Harrises and was trying to arrange them in alphabetical order without Frank noticing.

"I had no customers again," said Maud, very loud. Even though Frank was at the back of the shop and she was at the front, there was technically no need to shout. The shops on Unity Street were only the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce is an ode to music—and a ballad about a rag-tag community in a run-down suburb on the symbolically named Unity Street. Although the setting is never specified, creating the idea it could happen anywhere, it is located somewhere in England. This is a story about connections and love in all forms—romantic, platonic, familial, obligatory, even of vocation. Despite being beautifully written and utterly charming, this novel is not perfect. Yet, just as even flaws in a loved one can be endearing, this unexpected plot shift only helped to cement this novel in my heart. The Music Shop won me over completely...continued

Full Review (742 words).

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(Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).

Media Reviews

The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Joyce's charm and good-heartedness remain undiminished, as does her ability to create a highly appealing, semi-magical world ... and to make us root for her characters all the way.

The Guardian (UK)
Rachel Joyce has established a reputation for novels that celebrate the dignity and courage of ordinary people and the resilience of the human spirit. ... But what really elevates The Music Shop is Joyce's detailed knowledge of—and passion for—music.

The Times (UK)
Warmhearted, unusual and romantic, Rachel Joyce evokes the emotional power of your favorite record while underlining the importance of that forever-threatened little shop down a side street where music happens. ... Joyce's gift is in using simple language to convey profound observations on human nature.

Kirkus
Joyce sets up a charming cast of characters, and her spirals into the sonic landscapes of brilliant musicians are delightful, casting a vivid backdrop for the quietly desperate romance between Frank and Ilse.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Joyce, a British actress and playwright, whose first novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, was longlisted for the Man Booker, continues to enchant and break hearts with her lovable misfits trying to survive in a modern world determined to pass them by. Irresistible.

Publishers Weekly
Magical ... Joyce has a winner in this deceptively simple love story. ... Joyce's odes to music ... and the notion that the perfect song can transform one's life make this novel a triumph.

Booklist
Whether on foot, as in her novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, or track by track, on this unlikely musical odyssey, Joyce excels in enveloping readers in epic journeys of lost connections and loving reunions.

Reader Reviews

Davida Chazan

Hallelujah for Vinyl
Rachel Joyce's newest novel begins with this simple line, "There once was a music shop." No, this isn't a fairy tale; instead, what follows is a complex journey of two people on the backdrop of a soundtrack that’s equally as eclectic as ...   Read More
Lorraine F Monakey

A great story
My high school English teacher daughter recommended this book. I loved it and couldn’t put it down. An interesting twist to suggest specific music to help people’s maladies. A feel good read.
Deby

If you love...
If you enjoy music, cannot resist a magically love story, believe that life is full of kismets and serendipities, and good can be found in this world of ours, read THE MUSIC SHOP!!!!!! This life of mine took on a whole new positive meaning when I ...   Read More
Peggy T

Better and better
In my case, Rachel Joyce has been an author whose work has grown on me. I read Harold Fry for a book club and did not really like it. Then I read Queenie Hennessy and I did that like that version of the same story. This book was a great pleasure ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Vinyl Records

Despite the many digital streaming options for listening to music, vinyl records are still popular with some listeners. Like Frank in The Music Shop, many music aficionados love the sound quality of vinyl records and nostalgia has increased their popularity. Vinyl records still comprise a noticeable portion of the market. According to the Nielsen Music Year-end Report, in 2017, vinyl records accounted for 14% of all music sales.

Edison Phonograph The first sound recordings, developed in 1857, created visual graph renderings of sound waves, though they lacked playback capability. In the 1870s, Thomas Edison created the first phonograph—the first device able to record and play back sounds. Although he experimented with disc formats, he ultimately ...

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