From the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a love story set in London in 1988 in which the music-obsessed owner of a record store (frequented by crew of charming eccentrics) falls for a mysterious woman.
“The Music Shop is an unabashedly sentimental tribute to the healing power of great songs, and Joyce is hip to greatness in any key. Her novel’s catalogue stretches from Bach to the Beach Boys, from Vivaldi to the Sex Pistols. Crank up the turntable and let these pages sing ... you’ll want to file this book right between Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue ... Given the general melody of romantic comedy, you can probably guess how this tune develops, but there’s real delight in hearing variations on a classic form ... Joyce’s understated humor around these odd folks offers something like the pleasure of A.A. Milne for adults. She has a kind of sweetness that’s never saccharine, a kind of simplicity that’s never simplistic. Yes, the ending is wildly improbable and hilariously predictable, but I wouldn’t change a single note.
As their encounters multiply, the reader becomes impatient for the couple to acknowledge the inevitable. But, excruciatingly, Joyce keeps the suspense going; she strings out the romance/non-romance, piling on missed opportunities, misunderstandings, missed connections with Shakespearean brio ... In this instance, love, friendship, and especially the healing powers of music all rise together into a triumphant crescendo, which, like Frank’s gaze, makes the reader feel 'charged with a whoosh of light.' This lovely novel is as satisfying and enlightening as the music that suffuses its every page.
...it’s a classic rom-com structure. But Joyce makes it fresh. As with her earlier novels, it is the madcap ensemble cast that brings the book to wacky, poignant life. Like Anne Tyler, Joyce has a knack for quickly sketching characters in a way that makes them stick ... This is a touching, sometimes funny book about surviving change, the power of music and the importance of having a community — wacky or not. As with all of Joyce’s books, it will surprise you.