STARRED REVIEW
January 2018

A groovy kind of love

By Rachel Joyce
Review by

After Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, is there any other book written by any other Brit about the intersection of love and vinyl records that’s worth reading? Why, yes, there is. And Rachel Joyce’s magnificent The Music Shop is it.

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BookPage Top Pick in Fiction, January 2018

After Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, is there any other book written by any other Brit about the intersection of love and vinyl records that’s worth reading?

Why, yes, there is. And Rachel Joyce’s magnificent The Music Shop is it. Joyce, whose 2012 bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, digs deep in the crates and finds her groove in this novel of loves lost and found.

Frank—we never find out his last name, but we don’t need to, because he’s so indelible a character—is the sort of “music whisperer” that every serious record store geek aspires to be. As Frank correctly intuits, the man looking for Chopin is actually in desperate need of an Aretha Franklin infusion, while the unexpected “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber perfectly patches the Def Leppard-loving customer with a hole in her soul. It speaks volumes that Frank files Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” next to Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” and Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” After all, they’re all concept albums.

But Frank has some emotional damage himself, and his potential salvation shows up not in the stacks of wax, but unbidden one day in a green coat, passed out in front of his shop. Clearly Joyce has taken Holland-Dozier-Holland’s multimillion-selling song to heart: “You can’t hurry love / No, you just have to wait / She said love don’t come easy / It’s a game of give and take.”

Without giving away more of the plot, it’s worth noting that Joyce’s novel is intellectually and emotionally satisfying on every possible level. If you love words, if you love music, if you love love, this is 2018’s first must-read, and it will be without question one of the year’s best.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Music Shop

The Music Shop

By Rachel Joyce
Random House
ISBN 9780812996685

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