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Reader Reviewed
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop

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A heartrending love story. An ode to vinyl. A poignant evocation of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. Like the music beloved by its protagonist, this pitch-perfect novel has an ineffable power to uplift the soul.

At the heart of the story - and of run-down Unity Street - is Frank, steadfastly selling vinyl (no cassettes, and definitely no CDs) from his decaying shop: “With vinyl, you couldn’t just sit there like a lemon. You had to GET UP OFF YOUR ARSE and TAKE PART”. The polar opposite of Black Books’s Bernard Black, Frank is one of life’s altruists. He “knew what people needed even when they didn't know it themselves”. But, while his music recommendations transform and heal the loves of countless customers, Frank has neglected to partake in his own life. That is, until a well-dressed woman wearing a distinctive pea-green coat faints outside his shop. Ilse Brauchmann radiates movie-star magnetism, and Frank immediately falls for her, as does pretty much everyone on Unity Street. Ilse sets Frank’s heart-a-pounding, and his nerves-a-tingling, but his past pains (particularly his relationship with his music-obsessed mother) have left him emotionally impotent, and he’s at risk of losing his once-in-a-blue-moon chance to truly take part in life.

The groove of this gloriously life-affirming novel gets under the skin and lingers long after the final sentence has been savoured. It’s a newly-heard riff you can’t get out of your head, and the favourite album you’ll return to in times of need. I loved it. ~ Joanne Owen

If you like Rachel Joyce you might also like to read books by Patricia Wood, Daniel Clay and Reif Larsen.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Celia Cohen - 'A must read book for everybody even if you are not a music lover - you will be by the end of the book. What a wonderful book.'
  • Catherine Larner - 'The healing power of music, the strength of community, a belief in second chances, and characters as vivid and touching as Harold Fry. A wonderful book!'
  • Helen Appleby - 'an easy and delightful read and the perfect thing to read on a sunny afternoon in the garden, I read it in about two days as once I was hooked I couldn't put it down.'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'The last time I laughed out loud at the very best in irony, heart-lifting, identifiable and down-right brilliant writing was Joyce’s previous writing.  Brilliant author...Full of wonderful characters, brought to life through such joyful writing, this is a quite wonderful read.'
  • Sharon Wood - 'A heart-warming tale of music and relationships.  Another beautifully satisfying read from one of my favourite authors.  Thoroughly recommended.'
  • Val Rowe - 'A gem of a novel that will remain imprinted in my mind for some time to come.'
  • Sharon McKinlay - 'A very enjoyable & moving story about Frank who runs a record store. Interesting mix of characters that all added to the enjoyment of the story.'
  • Alfred Nobile - 'I found this a beautiful, refreshing and simple read with a deep message.'
  • Angie Rhodes - 'Feeling sad, lost, scared, and unsure? I know what you need, you need to come with me, to The Music Shop.  An unsuspecting little shop but in that shop you will find Frank and Frank is the one to help you.'
  • Ruth - 'The Music Shop is a beautiful story so much more than just a love story between people, it’s a love story of music.'
  • Victoria Goldman - 'The Music Shop is a heartwarming character-driven novel with rhythmic writing, descriptive prose and gentle humour. It's a quirky and nostalgic book about change, with a love story at its heart.'
  • Jane Brown - 'Beautiful and nostalgic although for some reviewers this appears like it was yesterday lovely romance.'
  • Alexandra Harper-Williams - 'One of the most magical and inspiring books I have read in a while - truly beautiful.'
  • Victoria Emerson - 'Another delightful, heart-warming tale from Rachel Joyce.'
  • Kathryn Eastman - 'In her latest novel, Rachel Joyce’s writing is pitch perfect and every bit as healing as the tracks that Frank selects as prescribed listening for his customers in The Music Shop.'
  • Kathryn Whitfield - 'Fantastic!! I beautiful story about love, friendship and music.    I adored this story it was fantastic.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'I loved every page of this book, it's filled with great music titles and loveable quirky characters and a lovely nostalgic love of vinyl . Read this immediately folks , you won't be disappointed.'


The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

From the author of the world-wide bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a new novel about learning how to listen and how to feel; and about second chances and choosing to be brave despite the odds. Because in the end, music can save us all...1988. Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk - as long as it's vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need. Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann. Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind ...


Rachel Joyce tells wonderful stories. In her hands, ordinary lives are given dignity and triumph. She is a champion of humanity, and The Music Shop is no exception. It is a joyous love song that pulses with hope and benevolence and laughter. -- Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit and Tin Man Her speciality is writing with empathy on the quirkier aspects of life...[The Music Shop] has the feel of a summer hit: warm-hearted, unusual and romantic, with a sense of hope pervading all manner of misfortunes...

Joyce's gift is in using simple language to convey profound observations on human nature. -- Will Hodgkinson * The Times * The Music Shop is wonderful - a tender and moving love story which captures brilliantly the healing, redemptive power of music and its ability to console, empower and reassure. I adored it. -- Laura Barnett, author of The Versions of Us Rachel Joyce hits all the right notes with her love letter to vinyl... This is the most beautiful ode to music, community and love, that overflows with charm and warmth. -- Jane Craddock * The Sun * [Joyce] writes with unquestionable charm and and with her considerable heart never far from her sleeve.

Joyce's charm and good-heartedness remain undiminished, as does her ability to create a highly appealing, semi-magical world... and to make us root for her characters all the way. -- James Walton * The Daily Telegraph * Rachel Joyce deploys all her trademark charm... on a journey of redemption, of confronting the demons from the past and of healing. * Stylist * I love any novel by Rachel Joyce, whose The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a huge success. Now she has created another Pied Piper of the heart in Frank, the proprietor of the music shop. Frank's individually chosen records can heal the soul - and this bewitching love story sings out the unique beauty of every human being, leaving you uplifted. -- Bel Mooney A beautiful novel, a tonic for the soul and a complete joy to read. -- Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep Nobody writes with quite that mixture of clear eyed humanity and downright authorial mischief that Rachel Joyce brings to The Music Shop -- Patrick Gale * twitter * The Music Shop tells us that our drum beats may well be different, but we can still dance to a harmonious and funky rhythm.

Rachel Joyce is a genius with words and full of soul. This is another uplifting and utterly heart-enlarging novel. -- Bel Mooney Frank in The Music Shop has taken my love of vinyl to a much higher level. He introduced me to music I've never heard before and has given me a new way of listening to all music.

Rachel paints her odd ball bunch of characters with a delicate deftness of touch. You cannot help but love them all. -- Johnnie Walker, MBE BEST SUMMER READS: I loved this moving story about the healing power of music. * Woman&Home * A tender, funny compelling and hugely resonant story * Radio Times * Such a touching and gently didactic story - melts your heart. -- Veronica Henry * twitter * A happy book -- Jane Garvey * BBC Radio4 Woman's Hour * What joy. A big-hearted, beguiling story full of charm, gentleness and humour and peopled with glorious characters. A love song to beauty on the margins, friendship, and the intrinsic power of music. -- Keggie Carew, author of DADLAND I especially adored the music bits; fascinating snippets about everyone from Liszt to Led Zep. -- Wendy Holden * Daily Mail * An uplifting read, full of humour and authentic characters. * Press Association * This nostalgia hit will lift your spirits. * Closer Magazine * I loved Rachel Joyce's The Music Shop. -- Lenny Henry * Radio Times *

About the Author

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her work has been translated into thirty-six languages. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014. Rachel has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl..

Author photo © Justin Sutcliffe

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Book Info

Publication date

13th July 2017


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Doubleday an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd


336 pages


Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
Romantic Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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