The Music Shop
By Rachel Joyce
I’m a big fan of Rachel Joyce, since reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, so as soon as I heard about The Music Shop, I had to read it immediately and it didn’t disappoint.
The Music Shop is about a man called Frank, who owns a record shop in the late 80s. Music is Frank’s way of interpreting and existing in the world and he has the extraordinary ability to listen. He understands the melody, the meaning, the emotion that a piece of music can contain – how it can elate, enrage or embrace you. And now, whenever a customer walks into the ordered chaos of his record shop, he will listen and he will find the song they need. It’s probably not what they came in asking for, but it’s what they need nevertheless. Frank will listen to you and hear the secret song inside you and make it real.
Then one day, a woman in a pea-green coat with eyes like vinyl faints outside Frank’s shop and changes everything.
Joyce has an extraordinary touch. She observes people minutely and exactly. But she does not pin down her characters with exactness. She is rather like a lepidopterist, who can gently cradle a passing butterfly in her hand. She examines carefully and with dedication. But only for a few seconds before releasing it once again. Hers is a gentle and respectful fascination with the human experience. She does not care for melodrama or action sequences. Joyce pays attention to the quiet existence of life that we can all relate to. Loneliness, grief, tender love and fierce friendship. And through it all, her words are warm and funny and generous.
“Jazz was about the spaces between notes. It was about what happened when you listened to the thing inside you. The gaps and the cracks. Because that was where life really happened; when you were brave enough to free fall.”