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Publisher's Summary

A love story and a journey through music, the exquisite and perfectly pitched new novel from the best-selling 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.

©2018 Rachel Joyce (P)2018 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another thing of beauty from Rachel Joyce

How I love Rachel Joyce. In The Music Shop we meet Frank, an eternal optimist who knows about almost nothing except music, and who believes his vinyl record shop—which is struggling to remain relevant amidst the rise of CDs in 1980's Britain—is his venue by which to help the world. He has the intuitive ability to know what records people need to hear, and has even saved a marriage or two through his almost magical curation skills. Music geeks will eat this up (who doesn't want to hear Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata described as "punk"), but as in all of Joyce's stories, the true elegance comes from her identification of the turning points in a person's life. What are those micro-traumas that set a child on their seemingly accidental path; what was that moment of (in)decision that changed everything? As a parent, Joyce's prescience terrifies me, but I also can't look away. As a bonus track (pun!) Steven Hartley's narration—Google him, you know this guy—is masterful: in turns obsessively enthusiastic and heartbreaking, especially amazing given that it’s his first turn behind the mic.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 01-05-18

Hallelujah . . Hallelujah!!

Having loved both “Harold Fry” and “Perfect”, I downloaded this new Rachel Joyce release as soon as I saw it, and it jumped straight to the top of my listening list. And here in the first week of the new year, I wonder if there can possibly be a book that will top this wonderful story for the rest of 2028.

Joyce has imbued her eclectic cast of characters with life, humor, generosity, yearning and raw emotions. A true community of people who look out for each other even in the face of threats from developers and competition from slick franchise merchandisers gives us something to root for – for the neighbors individually and collectively. Frank, with his giant heart and personality is the glue holding the little strip of shop owners together. We yearn for him to finally find the right one to allow him to emerge from his carefully cultivated emotional shell that keeps him protected from any romantic commitment.

I was delighted by the many musical references punctuating the narrative, many familiar, some sending me to Google for enlightenment. Joyce drew me into this community from the first words, and never let me go until, surrounded by an alarming pile of tissues, I came to the resolution of the lives of people I have come to love dearly. This was a one-day listen, causing me to shamefully neglect my daily routine until I turned my pod off in the wee hours, thoroughly satisfied. Very highly recommended.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Muse
  • Hesperia, CA
  • 01-31-18

THE BEST Music Choices - LISTEN TO THE MUSIC

Would you listen to The Music Shop again? Why?

Yes, just to survey the music again. Music Appreciation vehicle.

What did you like best about this story?

I've made the best use of this story by stopping to listen to the music as the story unfolds. So many great pieces of music are mentioned that this story becomes a survey of music appreciation of a huge variety of musical styles. The story is sweet and tender and romantic.

What about Steven Hartley’s performance did you like?

I like his gritty voice, emotional tones and his accents.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

1980's London connoisseur/ lover of the best of all worlds of music in the dawning era of the CD - lover of vinyl as the medium to share it .

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A 3.75 Star Experience

The Music shop is an easy and enjoyable read/listen. It is a story of love and loss. It is also a story of resilience. Dreams are discovered and realized and snatched away. While there are numerous moments of sadness throughout the novel, the overall tone is light. The cast of characters keeps it interesting, and there is a hint of mystery to the novel. I wouldn't classify The Music Shop as a "page-turner," but it did hold my interest. The narrator was really good, except for the sections when he was required to sing.

I considered 4 stars, but The Music Shop doesn't quite make it there. Overall rating: 3.75 stars.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • Illinois
  • 03-06-18

An Ode to Living Music

This book was pretty far outside my comfort level of angst...so many awful things happen and when something good starts the characters always make poor choices! But each character was so well drawn and their stories so believable I was in agony as I had to listen to the last 90 minutes 15 minutes at a time!!! I finally put it on speaker as I was feeding my grandson breakfast in his high chair because I do wanted to see what happened to them!!
Great idea and great characters...pretty good narration except he didnt understand the Hallelujah Chorus so it took away from that scene...in a book about music having unbelievably powerful magic that made a difference! I REALLY liked this story a lot...I would say 4.5s if I could...but 5 stars are stories I listen to a second time with my husband and I dont know if I can handle all the angst a second time!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed the setting more than anything

I very much enjoyed the setting, but the story itself was just so-so—until the last couple of hours when it fast-forwards 20 years. Frank was the only character that was slightly well developed. Ilsa is only a mystery because Frank refuses to know practically anything about her. So we're left with the antics of the secondary cast of characters, a lot about how Frank FEELS about music, the record store (somewhat interesting), and what's happening with Unity street (the street the shops and houses are on). The street was the most interesting, but even there, aside from the shops and the owners, the rest is underdeveloped. A lot of people actually live on the street, as is clear when many attend a meeting at a pub, but they aren't mentioned otherwise, except one home-owner.

It seems between the era (late '80s), the changes In music (records to CD), local politics, too many characters, and so on, Joyce was spread too thin. And it's almost as she wrote the last 20% of the book first and then did her best to figure out how to get there. She did, but that left the first 80% just ok.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Claudine
  • ESCONDIDO, CA, United States
  • 04-03-18

I love quirky characters!

One of my favorite things is finding a book whose characters aren't cookie cutter and who are different from the mainstream. The Music Shop is full of them and the tale spun around these characters is delightful. We all are 'different' in our own way - so how do we navigate a world that prefers chain stores and predictable people? This story tells how this motley bunch makes it through the tough times.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy
  • agoura Hills, CA, United States
  • 01-27-18

Best book I've heard in years

What did you like about this audiobook?

The narration was fantastic. The voices, emotions and the "tick" of the vinyl record really added to the experience.

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

This author also wrote the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye, which I also loved. It is set in a small town in England and the characters are so rich, deep and real that you really feel like you are part of this small community.

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

The author really understands what it was like to move from vinyl to CD to streaming and uses that both as an artistic expression but also as a statement about society and the modern world. The descriptions are details but not too much and the writing is beautiful.

Do you have any additional comments?

I was captivated by the subject matter and the characters. This is a must "read" and may be even better via audio book with this narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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so very good

gave me the inspired Ugly Cry. will keep my eye out for film adaptation, def would make a great indie British movie with of course a great sound track

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful and a proper ending

touching and warm. And Ensemble of characters. For me Harold Fry was different and better, but had I read this one first I would have chosen this one as my favorite. Two years ago Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessy changed my life. Frank and Ilse reminded me again of what is important through all these changes.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful