Rachel Joyce is on the top ten list. Her books are so affecting - they resonate with me long after the last page has been turned.
And that is true again with her latest book, The Music Shop.
"There was once a music shop. From the outside it looked like any shop, in any backstreet. It had no name above the door" ...... "As long as it was on vinyl, there were no taboos. And if you told Frank the kind of thing you wanted, or simply how you felt that day, he had the right track in minutes. It was a knack he had. A gift. He knew what people needed even when they didn't know it themselves."
Joyce's characters are always a little left of center, eccentric in their own ways. Inherently good and kind, but a little lost. Frank is missing something in his life, but he doesn't know it until the mysterious woman in the green coat enters his shop. Her arrival is the catalyst for a change in Franks' life. And not just Frank, but the other inhabitants of Unity Street. Although Frank is the lead character, I found myself just as drawn to the supporting cast - especially Kit - the 'assistant manager' of the music shop.' His innocence, bouncing around, love of posters and unfailing good nature endeared him to me. Maud, the surly tattoo artist was another favourite. They're all a little out of step, but I would love to be a resident of this wee little back street and walk with them.
Joyce has such a way with words - her prose are thoughtful and worth savouring. "They spoke in the flat monotone they used these days in order to remain on open road where nothing would jump out and surprise them. One wrong word and it was like trees coming down."
Now, as I first started to read, I began writing down the musical references and referrals that Frank makes. I was fascinated by the explanations of the music, the background of the pieces and what to listen for. The list soon grew too long and I was too caught up in reading to stop and add to the list. But, I do want to go back and listen to some pieces recommended by Frank and catch his interpretation of the piece. The explanation of silence within music intrigued me, as did many more of the musical references. Joyce neatly ties those references to what is happening with the characters.
It'd be lovely if there was a Frank - who doesn't want to have the right music 'prescribed' for them. On reading the author's notes, I learned that the premise for The Music Shop sprang from events in Joyce's own life.
I loved The Music Shop - absolutely recommended! Here's an excerpt of The Music Shop.