The other week I was ‘post checking’ for my parents whilst they were on holiday. Much like my mother, I can’t let a situation go unexplained – so bear with! I spotted this book in their hallway and asked if I could borrow it. Mum explained it wasn’t theirs, but my Dad couldn’t read it at the moment because of an eyesight problem he has, and their friends were in no rush to have it back – so it was fine for me to borrow it. (#neverknowinglyunderexplained)
I’d read previous books by Rachel Joyce – so thought it would be a lovely, pleasant read on holiday.
Here’s the blurb:
“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 …”
I really enjoyed this from start to finish. As with Rachel Joyce’s previous books, it’s really well written – and a lovely escapist read. The fact that it talks about music was also great – as I’m a huge fan of lots of genres of music.
Frank is the main character, and his relationship with Ilse is the centrepiece of the story – but there is a whole host of ‘chorus’ parts that are wonderful. A tattooist, two undertakers, a Polish baker, the Saturday boy, a café waitress – to name but a few. The interactions between them all are beautifully observed and feel very real – you are rooting for the whole band of them.
Some of it is just lovely, and some is really moving. I did weep a couple of times – particularly at the end. Whilst set in 1988 – and then more recently – it does show how the British High Street has changed over the decades too.
The Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah is fundamental to the story line and is a piece of music I love (randomly, Alexa decided to play it for me the other evening which was lovely!) I was rehearsal pianist for a production of it way back when I was in sixth form – and because the tenor section were rubbish, I had to bang out their notes – so consequently that is the part I always end up singing along #randomfact
I was not wrong in my expectations, and this is a lovely, escapist, pleasant read – in a world where more of those are needed!