I don’t really go in for the kind of book that makes you weep. I find them too saccharine, just too artificial. So it came as a surprise when I realised that sitting reading this wonderful story about Frank and his music shop my cheeks were wet and that I had been crying. It is such a touching story that reaches you on so many different levels.
Frank was brought up by his mother Peg. A quirky independent lady who insisted on being called by her first name. Her stories about the composers and the music that they created instilled Frank with a deep seated love of all things musical. From opera to heavy metal Frank had listened to all of it. All apart from the Hallelujah Chorus – ever since his mother’s funeral he can’t bear to listen to that one.
When Frank stumbles on a run down store in Unity Street, in a town that permanently smells of cheese of onion from its crisp factory, he knows that it is the perfect location. He has a diverse set of neighbours and little local shops and it feels like a real community. Frank’s music shop fits right in. His collection of precious vinyl is unloaded into the shop and he discovers that he has an innate sense of what music the customer needs – whether they know what they want or not. He just has a feel for what will fix you.
It is the late eighties and the shiny plastic CD is just coming to the fore. The record company sales reps are all desperately trying to encourage him to take the new fangled CDs. They can only give him discounts if he takes CDs. Adamant that music should only be on vinyl Frank refuses to budge. Those things will not be accepted in this shop.
When I first started working for a major record company in the Nineties I used to have to deal with all of the independent record stores sorting out returns requests and discount queries, credits for stock damaged in transit or short shipped. I knew lots of characters like Frank. Some not quite so affable but equally passionate about music and their customers. If only they could have known then that 2017 would see a vinyl revival and shiny black plastic becoming the fastest growing music format!
One day a young woman in a green coat faints outside the shop. Frank and his neighbours rush to help. The smartly dressed German lady in her matching gloves and sweet smile make an instant impact on Frank and his young assistant Kit. She dashes off in a hurry but all are caught in her spell. When Kit realises that she has left her green handbag behind concerted attempts are made to try and find the sad stranger.
Although this book is primarily about the friendship between Frank and Ilse it encompasses so much more. An education about music – all kinds of music. I wanted a playlist so that I could listen to the music that Frank was recommending and hear or myself. The timeline is interspersed with the stories that Peg told the young Frank so you get a feel for why he is the person that he is.
If you have any interest in music and want a beautiful and touching story then you really can’t go wrong with this book. Tell all your friends. The Music Shop is a masterpiece.
Supplied by Net Galley and Transworld Digital in exchange for an honest review.
UK Publication date: July 13 2017. 336 pages.
Prolific reader, enthusiastic theatre and movie-goer and ex-Olivier Awards judge who spent twenty years working in the music industry in London. I love sharing my favourite books with friends - nearly always spoiler-free as I hate reading a synopsis of the whole book in other reviews.