Saturday 7 November 2020

When The Music Stops by Joe Heap @Joe_Heap_ BLOG TOUR #WhenTheMusicStops @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction


This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life. 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…

When The Music Stops by Joe Heap was published in hardback on 29 October by Harper Collins. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

There are some books that just take my breath away, that become seared into my brain. There are some books whose characters become a part of my life, almost living and breathing alongside of me. There are some books that I will never, ever forget. When The Music Stops is one of those books.

Magnificently structured, and written so beautifully, I was totally swept away by this story. Ella and Robert are two of the most cleverly constructed, utterly realistic; flawed, yet perfectly so. I can see this story played out on the big screen, and what a tear jerker it would be.

The reader meets Ella when she is in her late eighties. It's a strange, almost ethereal opening, but one that catches the imagination instantly. Ella is alone, on a boat on the Ionian Sea. She's unsure what has happened to her daughter, and there's water coming in from somewhere. Ella remembers .... the baby ..... and sure enough, there's her tiny grandson, also alone, and also in a cabin that's filling with water.
This opening passage is frantic, my heart was in my mouth, wondering what on earth has happened and will happen. It's sometimes pretty difficult to read, the outcome seems inevitable at times. 

The author then takes us back to Ella's early years. She's a small girl and it's 1936. The reader learns about Ella's best friend Rene, about their relationship and about the greatest sadness of Ella's life. A sadness that will continue throughout her life. 

This is a book of 'seven's; and incorporates seven key moments in Ella's long and fascinating life. We meet the seven most influential people in her life and we learn about seven pieces of music that each hold an individual memory for her.

Ella leads a life that is full, and fast. She has incredible highs as her musical career blooms. She also has the lowest of lows, as she falls under the influence of people and substances who she thinks are friends, but only destroy her. Throughout this, Robert is always there. Sometimes nearby, often far away geographically, but always with her emotionally. Robert is the older brother of her childhood friend Rene and shared her first loss and becomes part of every key moment that follows. 

I could write for hours about When The Music Stops. There is so much to say, so many factors to unpick and so many colourful characters to love. It's utterly beautiful; the way that it's put together; the creation of characters who worm their way into your life and the wonderful sense of place and era.

As the strap line says; 'some people change your world forever'; they certainly do, and some books can change you too. 

This is bold, inventive and perceptive. Dazzlingly good, this one will stay with me forever. Highly recommended. 

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers. 

His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards. 
Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

Twitter @Joe_Heap_

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