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๐ŸŽผ Music to my ears (especially at this time of the year)

Rachel Joyce has a style of writing that fans adore. With a simplicity in her storytelling, she's able to touch hearts better than any AI tool can. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me bring you up to speed. The latest artificial intelligence news cited that AI is that it is learning how to make you cry at the movies. Read more.) But back to Rachel Joyce's storytelling. 

Rachel Joyce is already a bestselling author, well known for books like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. Her latest entry "The Music Shop", Joyce attempts to bring music into our hearts, as she takes us on a delightful interlude that will enrich our minds about our favourite musical masters, from Bach's Double Violin Concerto to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Did you know, for example, that even though it's common knowledge that while Haydn and Mozart were the maestros who really cracked the sonata, it was Beethoven who reinvented it? Just as he reinvented the symphony. 

Here's a bit of a background of classical music (as interpreted in the book): 

Bach was the king of Baroque.
Mozart and Haydn were kings of the Classical.
Brahms, Chopin, Listz and Berlioz were the great Romantics
Bruckner, Mahler and Wagner brought music into the 20th Century.
Stravinsky and Schoenberg reflected harmony. 
But Beethoven was in a class of his own. 

"The Music Shop" is a story about a guy called Frank, who owns a music shop. From the outside the shop looked like any other you'd imagine, but on the inside, it was uniquely different. Crammed with boxes, two listening booths, and vinyl records, a huge turntable, and Frank behind the turntable smoking a cigarette and playing music. Frank was old school. You see, he couldn't understand how anyone could excited about the gimmicky new music gadgets called CDs, which seemed to be causing quite a conversation amongst the community. Frank imply refused to carry them in his store. He figured that if people really wanted CDs then they could find plenty of those shiny things at the local Woolworths. The future, for him, was vinyl.

On the surface, there doesn't seem to be anything very mysterious about Frank. He was a gentle man, who spent his days smoking and playing music in his shop. But, there was something incredibly special about him. See, he possessed a rare gift. No matter who the person, no matter what their situation, he was able to accurately suggest the perfect record to them. He introduced them to the art of actually listening to the music. Even though the person had never before heard of the album or song, Frank shuffled them into the listening room to give his new suggestion a try. It was like magic. It's like he knew exactly what kind of music they needed to tap into their own insecurities and emotional baggage, and make them feel a million times better. 

Frank is pretty content with his life, until one day Ilse Brauchmann walks into his shop. The strange mysterious women in a green coat makes quite an impression on him, and he just can't stop thinking about her. But this is not a straightforward romance. Ilse is an enigma. As mysterious as she is, even more mysterious is her life (or the story she tells for Frank's benefit). She also claims to have a fiancรฉ. Frank agrees to help her find music in her life. 

You wonder where Frank gets his intense passion for music from? Well, music was introduced to Frank by his mother, and the chapters in the book intertwine with snippets of young Frank's conversation with his mum, and the current narration of events. Peg absolutely loved music. The flashback chapters are beautiful and rife with content. It is actually from these conversations that we learn more about the history of music and learn more about the great masters. In one flashback we learn that Peg loved Handel's Messiah the most, because it showed people that they were not alone. No matter their differences, the music lifted them up and lowered them down, only to raise them even higher. If magic were real, Messiah worked like a spell. 

"The Music Shop" is a musical soul-searching interlude. The book is about music. It's about love and second chances. It's about the art of slowing down...and listening. It's a beautiful journey for the person who doesn't know a lot about the complex history of the symphony of music. Perhaps somewhat of a Coles Notes version of classical music (and interludes into other forms). 

Just like in all her books, Rachel Joyce's characters in The Music Shop are endearing and substantive. Each carries their own weight. And there also seems to be beautiful magic in her storytelling. Arguably a little cheesy towards the end, but it's not necessarily a spoiler alert...because as a reader you are after all expecting "The Music Shop" to be some sort of a love story. The timing of the book is beautifully set against the holiday season, because it makes us want to sing and dance, and partake in Handel's Messiah -- Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah Hallelujah  ๐Ÿ˜‰