The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (first published in 2017 by Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Random House)

The Music Shop nestles down a small side road among a clutter of other rundown businesses: a tattooist, a funeral parlour and the strange religious paraphernalia store run by ex-priest Father Anthony.

Behind the counter you will find Frank, who has an uncanny way of knowing just what music each customer needs to hear. Along comes the mysteriously lovely Ilse in her green coat, asking Frank to teach her how to listen to music the way he does.

But it is the late 1980s, and CDs are replacing vinyl, a change that Frank refuses to embrace.

Will he let down his customers, his staff, Ilse and ultimately himself by allowing the shop to be shuttered like so many of its neighbours?

Can they avoid becoming victims of the advancing tide of development in the form of Clipboard Man and his van full of bomber-jacket clad bullies?

With her stunning 2012 bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce established herself as a lover of the ordinary person with all our quirky failures, desires and beauty.

Frank is another such flawed and lovable character.

We root for him to succeed, but can’t help feeling failure is inevitable as he tilts against the windmills of change.

The story is gentle and moving, but the real flavour of the book comes from the music that is woven through it, giving a unique mental soundtrack to this story, in this place, at this time.

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