From nocturnes to punk, this musical romance is ripe for filming.

THE MUSIC SHOP

Stocking only vinyl in his London music shop, Frank Adair has the ability to select the perfect song to ease each customer’s spiritual crisis.

The son of a music-obsessed mother, Frank grew up learning about Beethoven’s silences, Vivaldi’s funeral, Bach’s eyes, and Miles Davis’ sly sense of humor. By the time he was a teen, he was teaching his mother, Peg, about João Gilberto, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison. After Peg’s death, Frank opens his store in a small cluster of shops. Defying land developers and CD–pushing record reps, Frank eschews alphabetical and genre-based organizational systems in favor of delightfully placing Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” ABC’s “The Lexicon of Love,” and Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” in the same bin—after all, each is a concept album. He’s a musical therapist, dosing heartache with Aretha Franklin and fussy babies with the Troggs. With his exuberant assistant manager, Kit, and fellow shopkeepers—including Maud, the tattoo artist; Mr. Novak, the baker; the Williams brothers, funeral directors; and Father Anthon, who has left the church to run a religious souvenir shop—Frank is part of a cozy, quirky community, well-insulated from the risks of falling in love…until Ilse Brauchmann faints in front of his store. Immediately smitten with each other, Ilse and Frank realize they are star-crossed when Ilse admits not only that she has a fiancé, but also—even worse—she doesn't listen to music. Yet she asks Frank to describe music to her; thus begins a journey into the emotional terrain charted by “The Moonlight Sonata,” “Ain’t it Funky Now, Parts 1 and 2,” and even “God Save the Queen,” the Sex Pistols’ version. Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, 2016, etc.) sets up a charming cast of characters, and her spirals into the sonic landscapes of brilliant musicians are delightful, casting a vivid backdrop for the quietly desperate romance between Frank and Ilse.

From nocturnes to punk, this musical romance is ripe for filming.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9668-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

A wild child’s isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder.

“The Marsh Girl,” “swamp trash”—Catherine “Kya” Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband’s beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya’s fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl’s collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya’s coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man’s body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, “star quarterback and town hot shot,” who was once Kya’s lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel’s weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymath—a published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1909-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more