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Monday, November 16, 2020

Review: When The Music Stops

When The Music Stops
Author: Joe Heap

Publisher: September 2020 by HarperCollins Australia

Pages: 360 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: contemporary

My Rating: 5 crowns


This is the story of Ella.

And Robert.

And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.

From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…

My Thoughts

‘My whole life was about making some noise to fill the silence, or mask it. Music was an attractive way of doing that, but now music isn’t enough.’

Bibliophiles will understand that every so often a book comes along that is so special it forever leaves a mark on its reader. When The Music Stops is one such book. This book is unique and exquisitely captivating, as it slowly draws you in and stays with you long after the final page is turned. From its traumatic start, the story is one emotional ride - I will continue to reflect on these characters for a long time to come. 

This book takes seven key moments in Ella’s life - seven key individuals throughout her long life - all tied together with her great love of music and how it evokes the memories of those times. These are the people who either appear in more than one period or are special with a lesson for just that one moment in time. There are many highs and many devastating lows as each critical episode is retold and added to the present day drama Ella finds herself in. I simply don’t want to give too much away as it is such an engaging read. 

‘When would you go back to, if you could?’ Ella asks, in a lull ... she often poses this question to herself ... how far back would she have to go, to make things how she wants them to be?’

Starting in wartime Glasgow, through to London in the sixties, to the present day on a sailboat during a storm - these key events highlight how the course of one’s life can change in an instant. Those possible missed opportunities or fate playing an often unfair role in how one’s life can take shape. Undoubtedly something we can all relate to and only with hindsight understand the lasting ramifications. 

The author, Joe Heap, is to be commended for the heartbreaking journey he takes you on and the original way it is presented - storytelling at its finest. From the flashbacks of the past, to the hardships of Ella’s present day dementia, Joe details a sweeping story of survival in more ways than one. I thoroughly recommend this book which came as a complete surprise to me. It is for books such as this, that I read. When events touch you so deeply, when tears spontaneously spring to your eyes, when you turn the final page and your breath is simply taken away. 

‘This shouldn’t be the moment, Ella knows. This is not like the moment in the shipyard, where time waited patiently for her to change their destinies. This is just an ordinary moment. But since Sandy died, she has been too aware of these ordinary moments. She wants to make them extraordinary. She doesn’t want to waste any more time, thinking it will never run out.’

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This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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