Official Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction with a romantic feel
Setting: 1988 and 2009 England
***I received an eARC copy of The Music Shop from the publisher, Random House, via NetGalley***
*** this post contains affiliate links ***
Review: An enjoyable, musical read that was a bit more romantic than I was expecting. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce was an ARC that I was thrilled to get! I absolutely adore Joyce’s book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and I was so excited to hear that she had a new book coming out. While The Music Shop ended up being too romantically focused for me, there were parts of it that I really enjoyed, and I think a lot of people will like this book!
Set in England in 1988, the main character is Frank, and he has a musical gift in that he can look at someone and know what song to give to them to change their life. Because Frank’s gift is so life changing for those he meets, this really speaks to the power of music. Much of The Music Shop is talking about different musicians and songs, and how they change people. Those into music will really enjoy these scenes, and I wrote down several songs to listen to afterwards. I can’t listen to music while I read, otherwise I would’ve listened to them right then and there! The music described is all genres of music: classical, rock, soul, you name it! Frank is an encyclopedia and really knows his music.
Frank has an employee at the shop, named Kit, and Kit was my favorite character in the book. He was humorous and sweet, and just made me smile as he caused all kinds of unintended trouble in the shop. Another character I enjoyed was Maud, a local tattoo artist, who was blunt and surly, but has a soft side, too.
One day a mystery lady comes to the shop, named Ilse, and Frank falls instantly in love. I didn’t really care for the character of Ilse, and this was where I struggled with The Music Shop. What I thought was going to be a story about music (and don’t get me wrong, a lot of it is about music), also ended up being very much a romance novel. Not a “sexy times” romance novel, but more of a “will they/won’t they find true love” romance novel. I generally don’t enjoy romance novels, and this one was borderline too much romance for me. I just didn’t like Ilse and Frank for each other, and therefore couldn’t get invested in their romantic story line. I wanted Frank to find his happiness, but I just couldn’t root for him and Ilse to be together. No particular reason why, I just felt he had more chemistry and understanding with another character in the book.
The ending of the book fell a bit flat for me. There is a “grand gesture” scene at the end, and it all felt a bit silly to me. Also, and this is something that really irks me, but we spend the majority of the book focused on Frank, seeing his story, and then the last section of the book focuses on a different character. This shift in focus is something that bothers me as a reader. I felt a bit cheated at the end in that I would’ve rather had the focus be on Frank, especially after spending most of the book on him! The shift just didn’t work for me.
Even though I had a few issues with The Music Shop, I think this would make for a great movie. There are many humorous scenes, and this is a book that would come alive on the screen I think. Especially as then you could hear the music that the characters talk about. While this one focused too much on romance for me, I still did enjoy it, and would recommend to readers who like sweet stories, especially those who are into music.
Bottom Line: Too much romance for me, but I still enjoyed it!
LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***