The Music Shop

by Rachel Joyce

When Rachel Joyce visited Woodbridge to launch her last book, a collection of short stories, she mentioned that she was working on this novel. And I've been longing to read it ever since. It's everything I hoped for and much more.

I read it in one sitting, in the garden on a sunny Saturday, just as I did for 'An Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry'. I couldn't put it down, but I didn't want it to end.

A heartbroken young man comes in looking for Chopin and leaves with a track by Aretha Franklin. The bank manager’s wife, struggling with her new baby, is instructed to listen to Canticles and play ‘Wild Thing’ by The Troggs as a lullaby. Even a shoplifter with a Genesis album under his arm is pursued down the street so that he might be encouraged to listen to Mendelssohn instead.

Frank has a knack, a gift. He knows what his customers need to hear before they do. And, whether it’s classical, jazz, punk or rock, his Music Shop will stock it – so long as it’s on vinyl.

It’s the 1980s, the CD, the shopping mall and the chain store are on the rise and Frank and his small band of shopkeepers on the high street are struggling. But Frank is determined to stay true to his love of records and when he meets Ilse Brauchmann, a mysterious woman in a pea-green coat, Frank comes up with a new business plan and hope in his heart.

Everyone who delighted in meeting Harold Fry will love Frank and his friends. There’s the tragedy of things left unsaid and the belief in second chances, the mix of humour and sadness, of regret and hope, of love and loss. We see the generosity of the human spirit, the power of friendship and the strength of community. And there’s also the healing power of music, and the restorative touch when someone sees deep into a hurting soul and offers ‘this will help’. It’s wonderful!