Rachel Joyce * Random House * January 2, 2018 * 306 Pages
It’s 1980-something, and Frank is struggling to keep his beloved record shop open. He loves music and has a knack for knowing exactly the right tune a person needs to hear the moment he meets them, but unfortunately his quirky talent isn’t paying the bills. Located on a dead-end street with other shops that are just as derelict as his own, Frank’s store is losing money, month after month, due to fewer customers and, lately, increased crime. It doesn’t help that Frank absolutely refuses to sell CDs, which he considers a passing fad, and will only stock vinyl records…that nobody seems to want.
Frank is young—mid-thirties at most—but he’s very isolated. Still grieving the death of his mother from many years earlier, he prefers to keep his distance and avoid the pain of close relationships. Well, that’s the plan, anyway, until a beautiful stranger in a green coat randomly passes out in front of his shop one day. It takes Frank some time to figure out her story, but after meeting Ilse, Frank is changed. He’s still scared to pursue a relationship with this new person, but he also can’t seem to quite shake his feelings of, well, love. As Frank tries to understand and cope with this unfamiliar situation, he must also figure out a way to keep his shop open and out of the clutches of a big shot developer who can’t wait to raze his store to the ground.
* * * * *
I had high hopes for this book, but it ended up being just okay. I love the quirkiness of Frank and some of the other characters, but, unfortunately, their endearing eccentricities couldn’t distract me from the slow pace of the story and the odd, manufactured drama between Frank and Ilse. The book had such a great start but then took forever to go somewhere already. I also didn’t think the flashbacks to Frank’s time with his unconventional mother, Peg, were that interesting either.
Truthfully, I think author Rachel Joyce got so caught up in making a “story about music!” that she forgot to make a good story. I felt a connection to Frank, but Peg and Ilse, the two main women in his life, fell completely flat and never seemed like real people to me. So ultimately, The Music Shop has a fun premise but a boring and underdeveloped story. I’d skip it.
(I would, however, listen to Aretha Franklin’s album Spirit In the Dark because that shit is bomb.)
Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.