Can Music Cure Your Life or Stop the Future? THE MUSIC SHOP

The Music Shop

By: Rachel Joyce
Narrator: Steven Hartley
Penguin Random House | Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Fiction – Literary
Release Date: January 02, 2018
8 Hours and 30 Minutes

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


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.

My Take Oblong Shaped

I am not a big  music person: religious music was kind of forced down my throat as a child and, unlike the rest of my family, I was fairly untalented.

So the story of a guy who has the magical ability to discern what music will change someone’s life; solve someone’s life; the idea that such an ability would even exist, is very appealing. On the other hand we’re early adopters of technology and so Frank’s refusal to sell CDs even given what we now know about their short-lived seems like a foolhardy nostalgia, but is really about parenting. Frank’s single mother was a piece of work.  I am not sure what her issues were but she was a wacky mom who did little to prepare her child for his future.  

His obstinacy, based in the coldness of digital recording,  is interesting in that he also refuses cassette tapes, and he would rather face ruin than wake-up and smell the coffee.  I am sad to say the clean sound of compact discs was preferable to the tic-thic-tic of the record.

Denying the future, will not bring back the past or halt the future’s progress.  It takes to much time to figure out what this novel is about.  The mystery is too of too little importance  to justify it taking of the majority of the story.

This story is, essentially a fable. The characters are “types,” not archetypes, but not firmly developed. There’s an evil character,  a “magically” hobbled hero-knight with a comically clumsy groom and  and a heroine under an evil curse. The characters live in a village, under attack.  The hero and heroine face monsters, mostly their own.  And it is the facing of the monsters that gives the story it’s meat.

Oh, and the way music is described echoed some of the ways my father described Bach,  and then the other
The narration is excellent; Hartley has a nice voice with good ranges for accent and gender.  I especially liked how the Sex Pistol’s GOD SAVE THE QUEEN is explained.

It took me a while to get to this book, but I enjoyed it.


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