Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing me with a free copy of The Music Shop for review. The following review contains my honest opinions about the book.
For almost a year now, Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy have both sat on a shelf on one of my bookcases, longing to be read. For some reason, every time I go to reach for one, the timing just feels wrong, and I select a different book. After reading The Music Shop, Joyce’s upcoming release, I can hardly wait to read them both.
The Music Shop is the story of a man named Frank and the vinyl store he runs in the late 1980s in a rather run-down area of London on a dead-end street. Frank has an uncanny ability to select exactly the right song to help each and every person who enters his store, and although he listens patiently to the emotional stories his customers tell, Frank never reveals much of himself to anyone else. One night, a mysterious woman in a green coat named Ilse faints outside his shop, and his entire life changes. Throughout the book, Frank shares the emotions of music with his customers, and readers get insight into his past through flashback chapters that tell of his life with his eccentric mother, Peg.
I was immediately charmed by The Music Shop, and each chapter drew me in more and more. Aside from the plot, The Music Shop is an excellent course in music appreciation, and my speakers have been playing many of the artists and songs mentioned ever since I began the book (although not on vinyl, which would make Frank positively weep with sadness). From Frank’s interactions with his customers to the music lessons he gives to Ilse, readers are introduced to music from all genres in entirely new and profound ways.
The plot itself is a beautiful story that is told in even more beautiful language, and although it seems like a typical boy meets girl tale on the surfaces, there is nothing typical at all about The Music Shop. Instead, readers are faced with questions about pain, loss, and the risks we all take when we open our hearts to others in ways that they have not faced in other works before. Frank’s and Ilse’s stories unfold much like a smooth jazz song, slowly and quietly at first, with a few sharp bursts of notes here and there, but it builds to a frenzy of excitement toward the end. Along the way, it is filled with incredibly dynamic characters who are easy to love, and if other readers are like me, they will especially adore Kit and his innocent, but bumbling, enthusiasm.
The Music Shop was not what I expected, and just when I thought I had it figured out and thought it might play out like a common love story, it threw me a curve and led me into territory I never saw coming. Be prepared for a few secrets to be revealed, many tears to be shed, and a genuine love for this darling book and its even more darling characters.