Book of the Month - January 2018
The Music Shop
By Rachel Joyce
January Book of the Month books came out and yet again I bought the maximum that you're allowed to get. Made me sad this month because I had to decide which one I didn't want to read more than the others, because I really wanted to buy four of the five options.
Speaking of options, this month's were:
- Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
- The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
- The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
- As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
- Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
I bought the last three of the list, but really wanted all of them but Two Girls Down. For some reason it really didn't interest me, even though based on a lot of what I have been reading lately, you would have thought it would have. I decided not to get The Woman in the Window only because I have seen it in the grocery isle (remember, I live in a small town with zero book stores, so if I buy my books here, they come from the grocery store), while the others I had not.
So now was the questions of which one was I going to read for this month's review? Before I had even received this month's box, I had pretty much already decided that I was not going to read As Bright as Heaven. I was not in that kind of mood. I wanted excitement and uplifting, and I did not think I would get it from Meissner's book. At least not without a good cry or two first, and I really didn't want to cry.
So that left me with two contenders! A thriller or something all together different. Seeing how lately I feel I have been reading/listening to a lot of thrillers lately, I decided to go with the intriguing book influenced by music.
Some History About the Author:
Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Joyce was named the Specsavers National Book Awards "New Writer of the Year" in 2012. She is also the author of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop, and the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and is the award-winning writer of more than thirty original afternoon plays and classic adaptations for the BBC Radio 4. Rachel Joyce lives with her family in Gloucestershire. (Random House)
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 costomers 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 or 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 had 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. (Random House)
The Review & Wrap-Up:
Long story short, I didn't care for The Music Shop the way I had hoped. I found myself bored through most of it. And had it not been for the fact that I was running short on time - and the fact that I very rarely ever begin a book and not finish it - I would have set this book aside and picked up Red Clocks instead.
I had really high hopes for The Music Shop. A novel about music sounded amazing! And the synopsis made it sound like it was going to be great too! How could I not like this book? I love music almost as much as I love reading and wine. When I'm not listening to a book on tape, I have music on, and not just the top 100 that you hear every day. I listen to everything. From pop, country, rap and metal to classical, meditation, opera and foreign languages. Pull up my Pandora account and it'll take you hours before you hear a song by the same artist again. So here was a book, who's main character was to give music lessons to the other main character, and I thought to myself This is going to be awesome!
But it fell flat. Not because of the music - that part was awesome - but because of the rest of the story. The story line was not fleshed out enough and the same thing happened over and over again: Ilse comes into Frank's life, they are both awkward about it, one or both of them get's upset, and then they don't see each other for some allotted amount of time while both really want to see each other. Throw in some teachings about music through Frank's flashbacks of his eccentric mother, and that's the main gist of the book.
I do have to give Rachel Joyce props on her research and knowledge of music. It was amazing, and by far the best part of this story. The amount of detail that Joyce put into describing the music moves you to a whole new world. You can feel it in your heart, and with your whole body. You can hear it, without it actually playing. And if you take the time to actually listen to the songs she describes, the experience is on a whole other level. (You can totally listen to The Music Shop's playlist on Spotify - bit.ly/TheMusicShopPlaylist - and you totally should! It's amazing!) My favorite scenes were those where Frank's mother, Peg, teaches him about music, and then those where Frank teaches Ilse. Beautiful!
Overall, The Music Shop could have been something really amazing. I loved the idea behind this story, and I think that had there been a bit more imagination, it could have gotten there. The idea and backbone are there. The research was done. But the story line - the fluff that ties it all together - wasn't on the same level as the idea and research, and that, unfortunately, brought the book as a whole down. The Hallelujah Chorus did not sing for me in the end.
From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.
Start a conversation: Have you ever had such high hopes for a book, only to have them fall flat once you've read it? Did you finish it, or leave in the middle?
Have a book you’d like to suggest or one you’d like me to review? Please feel free to leave your comments down below.