by Rachel Joyce (Transworld Publishers) ISBN: 9780857521934
We stumble into The Music Shop in the 1980s – it’s a bit like the wardrobe in Narnia, or the ring in Lord of the Rings. By the worn carpet, the crackle of the needle on the LP, the sponginess of the headphones on our ears, we are transported to another place, where things are just, well, nicer.
Frank, with his uncanny knack for finding music that will heal your soul, runs the place, and is a stubborn vinyl supporter – to his own detriment, when CDs are arriving with all their practicality and none of vinyl’s charm. Crazy Kit assists, with his love for exclamation marks and badly constructed “advertising”. Maud, a quiet tattoo artist works down the drag, with the Williams brothers, who run a funeral parlour. Mr Novak, the baker and Father Anthony who has a shop filled with religious paraphernalia also pop in from time to time.
Into this weird world filled with whacky, way-out people walks green-clad Ilse Brauchmann, who promptly faints outside, throwing them all into a bit of a quandary, especially Frank, who falls in love.
Rachel Joyce, famous for the acclaim created with The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, has done her music homework. The notes soar high and clear, and you’ll enjoy this whimsical, nostalgic novel with its almost fantasy-feel. You’ll never believe it, but you probably won’t mind.