Hot Best Seller

When the Music Stops

Availability: Ready to download

The stunning new novel from the author of The Rules of Seeing. Praise for Joe Heap: ‘Astonishing’ Ruth Hogan ‘A tender, tense drama about love and the unexpected places you can find it’ Sunday Express ‘A quirky love story which promises to make you see the world in a completely new way’ Daily Mail ‘Joe Heap’s fascinating debut makes you think about the things most of us take f The stunning new novel from the author of The Rules of Seeing. Praise for Joe Heap: ‘Astonishing’ Ruth Hogan ‘A tender, tense drama about love and the unexpected places you can find it’ Sunday Express ‘A quirky love story which promises to make you see the world in a completely new way’ Daily Mail ‘Joe Heap’s fascinating debut makes you think about the things most of us take for granted’ Good Housekeeping 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…


Compare

The stunning new novel from the author of The Rules of Seeing. Praise for Joe Heap: ‘Astonishing’ Ruth Hogan ‘A tender, tense drama about love and the unexpected places you can find it’ Sunday Express ‘A quirky love story which promises to make you see the world in a completely new way’ Daily Mail ‘Joe Heap’s fascinating debut makes you think about the things most of us take f The stunning new novel from the author of The Rules of Seeing. Praise for Joe Heap: ‘Astonishing’ Ruth Hogan ‘A tender, tense drama about love and the unexpected places you can find it’ Sunday Express ‘A quirky love story which promises to make you see the world in a completely new way’ Daily Mail ‘Joe Heap’s fascinating debut makes you think about the things most of us take for granted’ Good Housekeeping 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…

30 review for When the Music Stops

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard (on hiatus)

    When the Music Stops is the second novel by young British novelist Joe Heap - its a haunting and poignant tale of love, friendship and sad ‘might have beens’, and music …..… lots of music. Ella is a Glaswegian musician and this is principally the story of her life. She receives her first guitar as a child and spends many years playing professionally in bands, working as a session musician and writing songs. Musical styles change and people drift in and out of her life - some relationships are tr When the Music Stops is the second novel by young British novelist Joe Heap - its a haunting and poignant tale of love, friendship and sad ‘might have beens’, and music …..… lots of music. Ella is a Glaswegian musician and this is principally the story of her life. She receives her first guitar as a child and spends many years playing professionally in bands, working as a session musician and writing songs. Musical styles change and people drift in and out of her life - some relationships are transitory, some more enduring, some tragic but one particular bond stays constant. The format of the novel is unusual. When browsing in a book shop, in 1948, Ella discovers an obscure book about music - The Songs of the Dead by Jack Shapiro. In it, the author philosophises about music creation and writes about the seven key musical modes, including songs to illustrate his thoughts. This slightly mystical sounding work is then used to give structure to the novel i.e. we visit Ella seven times in her life, first in 1936 and lastly in 1992 - a song preceding each chapter. We also, periodically, spend time with Ella in the present, in strange, unsettling circumstances, as she confronts the ghosts of her past. When the Music Stops is a lovely book, simply written with flashes of lyricism and wisdom. It’s down to earth, unsentimental and yet whimsical and intensely moving. Adding further poignancy is a note at the end of the book explaining that the inspiration for the novel was the author’s musician grandparents. We even get pictures chronicling key events in their lives! Joe Heap gained critical acclaim for his first novel Rules Of Seeing, and has previously won the Foyle young poet of the the year award.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tras

    Wonderfully thought provoking novel about life, death, music, and everything in between. It's heart warming, poignant, and chock-full of characters that will leave little imprints on your thoughts. Lovely stuff. Wonderfully thought provoking novel about life, death, music, and everything in between. It's heart warming, poignant, and chock-full of characters that will leave little imprints on your thoughts. Lovely stuff.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mace

    This was such a unique and touching story, that I'm still thinking of Ella and her life right now, many days after I'd finished the book! I loved the distinctive way in which the story is told and how it helps you connect with Ella and the experiences she had in her lifetime. From the traumatic opening, the story never lets up on emotion and drama. You get the frustrations and despair that Ella is feeling now in her current situation where she is on a boat which is starting to sink, and has to lo This was such a unique and touching story, that I'm still thinking of Ella and her life right now, many days after I'd finished the book! I loved the distinctive way in which the story is told and how it helps you connect with Ella and the experiences she had in her lifetime. From the traumatic opening, the story never lets up on emotion and drama. You get the frustrations and despair that Ella is feeling now in her current situation where she is on a boat which is starting to sink, and has to look our for her grandchild, the grandchild she can't remember the name of because she is showing signs of dementia. In her toughest times she is 'visited' by the memories of those in her past that meant so much to her and shaped her life from childhood to adulthood. As she looks back, she is reminded of those who had such an impact on her life and these flashbacks to key moments in her life just went to show how different events changed the course of her life. The 'what if' moments, the missed opportunites, the quirks of fate that drew different people into her life at testing times. Something we all experience but it's not often til later in life that we truly see how important, or not!, an encounter or experience is. I loved how it really showed that just when you think life is going to go one way, then there's often a curveball to change the trajectory of things. As she moves away and moves to London to become a session musician, then her life sees her making some bad choices and you fear the worst for her, but the world works in mysterious ways and the past always finds a way of reminding her of what is important to her. Her life is full of many highs, and many lows and it was such an emotional experience to relive crucial moments and episodes in her life, added to the drama of what she is experiencing in the present and I have to admit, there were tears! Many tears!! It's a story you just get so involved in and seems to remind you to take note of those people who keep appearing in your own story at difficult times. A staggeringly inventive and emotional read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    took awhile to get into this book but deals with love loss and life as the books starts from in Glasgow through the 60's and 80's of Ella and Robert. thought it was an interesting plot based around music and memories of the past took awhile to get into this book but deals with love loss and life as the books starts from in Glasgow through the 60's and 80's of Ella and Robert. thought it was an interesting plot based around music and memories of the past

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    The book’s structure, revisiting seven key moments and people in Ella’s life, was, according to the author, inspired by the ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. However, as Joe Heap also writes, “This is a book about music, inspired by music” so cleverly incorporated into the story are the seven modes that have been part of musical notation since ancient times. In When the Music Stops, each of these modes is represented by a song in a music book Ella acquires when she fir The book’s structure, revisiting seven key moments and people in Ella’s life, was, according to the author, inspired by the ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. However, as Joe Heap also writes, “This is a book about music, inspired by music” so cleverly incorporated into the story are the seven modes that have been part of musical notation since ancient times. In When the Music Stops, each of these modes is represented by a song in a music book Ella acquires when she first takes up the guitar. Although other elements of her memory have faded by the time we first meet her as an old woman – alone, in rather strange circumstances – the tunes are still at her fingertips, evoking memories of significant stages in her life – and the people who shared them with her. As she muses, “There are seven songs. I have to play all of them, though I don’t know what will come at the end. I just have to play them.” The ability of music to evoke memories is just one of the fascinating concepts explored in the book, along with the nature of memory itself and how we experience the passing of time. I’ll leave others to explain Einstein’s theories on the latter but I liked the metaphor Robert, Ella’s friend since childhood, employs. He compares time to a long-playing record. While you’re listening to the second verse of a song, he explains, the first verse is still there but you’re just not listening to it anymore. As the reader learns, Ella’s life has been punctuated by moments of loss, often signalled by that thing we’ve probably all come to dread – the unexpected early morning or late night telephone call. Robert’s earlier metaphor is applicable here too. As he confides to Ella about a person they both knew, “I don’t think she’s really gone… I just think we can’t see her anymore.” Another key theme of the book is that of the missed opportunities in life, especially between people like Ella and Robert. ‘The Road Not Taken’ of Robert Frost’s poem, as it were. Their encounters over the years are populated by falsely reassuring thoughts such as “There will be other chances” and fateful hesitations, “The door of possibility stays open, waiting for her to walk through, but she stays put”. I admired the way the author recreated the atmosphere of each stage on the journey through Ella’s life, referencing the clothing, the television programmes or even the food of the time: the school playground gift of tablet (a sweet similar to fudge for you non-Scots out there) or a corned beef and pickle sandwich prepared for a picnic. The standout section for me, entitled ‘The Rebel’, was Ella’s experiences as a session musician in 1960s London, rubbing shoulders with many famous, or soon to be famous, bands of the period. (In his acknowledgements, Joe mentions Carol Kaye, “a trailblazing female musician” who played guitar and bass on many hit records and was the inspiration for Ella.) I also found the section entitled ‘The Matron’ particularly moving. At one point in the book, a character mentions ‘fantastical thinking’ and I think that’s a great description of the premise of this clever but very touching novel. At the online book launch, Joe Heap mentioned fantasy as making up some of his own early reading – books by authors such as Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – and it’s easy to see that influence in elements of the book. However, more than anything, When the Music Stops is an emotional story of love, loss and the power of the human spirit. I think it would make a great book club choice.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hana

    Broken.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Helen - Great Reads & Tea Leaves

    ‘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 rid ‘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.’ 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Webster

    There aren’t many books that I put 5 starts. But this one totally deserves it. I didn’t want this to end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Veronika Jordan

    Every now and again I come across a book that is so unique, so different, that I am left reeling. When the Music Stops is one of those books. The story takes us through the ‘seven stages of woman’ (inspired by Shakespeare’s seven stages of man in As You Like It *) – from Ella’s life as a child in Glasgow and her first experience of losing someone close to her when she was still a child, to now, when she is old. She is on a boat. It is starting to sink and is gradually filling with water. Ella is Every now and again I come across a book that is so unique, so different, that I am left reeling. When the Music Stops is one of those books. The story takes us through the ‘seven stages of woman’ (inspired by Shakespeare’s seven stages of man in As You Like It *) – from Ella’s life as a child in Glasgow and her first experience of losing someone close to her when she was still a child, to now, when she is old. She is on a boat. It is starting to sink and is gradually filling with water. Ella is 87 and alone apart from a baby which she discovers in a room which has been turned into a nursery. The baby is very young and needs looking after. This part really stressed me out while I was reading. I kept praying nothing would happen to him. As she grows up, she meets a lot of people while playing the guitar in various bands and as a session musician. A few of those people have a marked impact on her life and some of them die too soon – I’m sure we have all experienced this. My friend Sally suddenly left school one day when we were about 14 and never returned. We all knew she was ill. I didn’t see her again until she was 35. In the intervening time she had married, divorced, miscarried twice, had kidney failure and a heart attack. She died a few months later. She was 36. I think she would be on my boat if I had one, along with my sister who died before I was born. Suddenly Ella is no longer alone on the boat. Her first visitor is someone we know to be dead. We then go back to Ella’s twenties, where someone else close to her dies and they also turn up on the boat. We know they are dead and that Ella is not, and I still kept worrying about the baby, not being sure if he was really there, other than the fact that he needed feeding and changing. Like the dog in the laundry basket in The Sixth Sense, to begin with I just wasn’t sure if he was also dead. One constant in Ella’s life is Robert, also a musician – music is the theme that runs through Ella’s life – and the older brother of her best friend Rene. He is always there, yet not there, and neither can admit how they really feel. They seem to live parallel lives, which never come together. As the reader you really want them to. Towards the end I was totally overwhelmed and had to take a break or I would have started crying and not been able to stop. Writing this review made me cry. It is rare for a story to have such a profound effect on me and make me feel so happy and sad at the same time. This is one book I will definitely read again (and I almost never do that). One of my top three books of 2020. Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours and to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. “All the world’s a stage” – Jacques’ monologue from As You Like It by William Shakespeare *

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Evans

    This was my first read by this author and I can honestly say it won't be my last. The author has a way with words that pulls you in from the very first sentence and takes you on a journey you won't forget for quite some time. In When the Music Stops the main character Ella is suffering from dementia and the story begins with her on a boat with her daughter and grandson. There's a storm and 87 year old Ella finds herself alone with just the baby when she wakes up. Music plays an integral part in This was my first read by this author and I can honestly say it won't be my last. The author has a way with words that pulls you in from the very first sentence and takes you on a journey you won't forget for quite some time. In When the Music Stops the main character Ella is suffering from dementia and the story begins with her on a boat with her daughter and grandson. There's a storm and 87 year old Ella finds herself alone with just the baby when she wakes up. Music plays an integral part in this emotional story and it is the key to unlocking Ella's memories of growing up in Scotland and her life ever since. It's beautifully told and I loved how each of the characters showed up at just the right time and how through it all, Robert remained a constant. Ella's life is revealed through the narrative as we travel between the present and the past and it is wonderfully done. I was completely gripped by the story and loved how it unfolded even bringing a few tears along the way. It's easy to give this book 5 stars and if you are looking for a story that includes music and love, this is one that you won't regret reading.

  11. 5 out of 5

    SadieReadsAgain

    This book. This book... Guys, this book is a real gem. This is the story of Ella and Robert, whose lives began on the same Glasgow Street and which are intertwined through both loss and music through the decades. Structured around the seven modes which music has been arranged since ancient times, this story takes us from present-day Ella - elderly and stranded in a perilous situation - back to pivotal points in her life where Robert and a cast of other wonderful characters played defining roles. This book. This book... Guys, this book is a real gem. This is the story of Ella and Robert, whose lives began on the same Glasgow Street and which are intertwined through both loss and music through the decades. Structured around the seven modes which music has been arranged since ancient times, this story takes us from present-day Ella - elderly and stranded in a perilous situation - back to pivotal points in her life where Robert and a cast of other wonderful characters played defining roles. This book blends shades of One Day and The Five People You Meet in Heaven with ghosts, music and a building sense of tragic tension to create something totally unique. From Glasgow during WW2 to the London beatnik scene, recording studios to a burns unit, bedsits to a luxury cruiser, we visit Ella in every stage of her life. And carrying us through is Heap's simple yet gorgeous prose, with a touch of whimsy to stop this book ever being dark or bleak. And of course, there is the music. Almost a character itself, its power hums through the pages. I really appreciated how the importance of music in dementia patients is really core to this book, and linked it all together. I adored this book, and will definitely be adding Joe Heap to my auto-buy authors! I was sent a Netgalley of this title from HarperCollins in return for a review. All opinions my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sally Boocock

    A totally ingenious, unique and touching novel about music,love ,loss and life. It tells the story of Ella and Robert through flashbacks of their lives.It introduces seven characters from seven moments in their lives. Each one has a piece of music which relates to each person. I loved Ella's character and the way she went through life wanting to say so much but afraid to. Music is a big part of this novel as both Ella and Robert play instruments but their relationship started when Ella was seven A totally ingenious, unique and touching novel about music,love ,loss and life. It tells the story of Ella and Robert through flashbacks of their lives.It introduces seven characters from seven moments in their lives. Each one has a piece of music which relates to each person. I loved Ella's character and the way she went through life wanting to say so much but afraid to. Music is a big part of this novel as both Ella and Robert play instruments but their relationship started when Ella was seven and Robert ten . They lived on the same street and tragedy brought them together and thus begins their story. I was emotionally drained but in a good way by the end of it. Thank you to Joe Heap and Harper Collins for sending me a copy to read. Not only is the cover beautiful but the story is too. I look forward to hearing the audio version with the music as well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane Hunt

    This is a beautifully written story of life, love, loss and serendipity. Music and the number seven define the parameters of this story which explores Ella's life and her lifelong love of Robert. The writing is lyrical, as Ella revisits her past at seven pivotal times and introduces seven characters who left their emotional mark on her life. The flashbacks are vivid and written with historical details and insight. They immerse the reader into the story and make it believable. Throughout, Ella is This is a beautifully written story of life, love, loss and serendipity. Music and the number seven define the parameters of this story which explores Ella's life and her lifelong love of Robert. The writing is lyrical, as Ella revisits her past at seven pivotal times and introduces seven characters who left their emotional mark on her life. The flashbacks are vivid and written with historical details and insight. They immerse the reader into the story and make it believable. Throughout, Ella is authentic and flawed. Her mistakes are a reflection of her humanity, and they make you consider your life and choices. The love story is gentle and tragic, but this is real love, and it's ending is worthy of the angst. I read this in a day and enjoyed it for its originality, realism and supernatural twist. I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fraser Shand

    Ella, an elderly woman with dementia, revisits her life through the music that is somehow still carved into her memory as the other connections to her past fade. Through stories of love and loss, we follow her story from interwar Glasgow, through sixties London to the present day. I felt so emotionally connected to the main figures in this story, which is deftly told by the author through a central musical motif.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    Wow! This book will be with me for a while! My heart was in my throat most of the way through! An absolute must to listen to this as an audiobook because of the musical 🎵 element! The overview doesn’t prepare you! Would love to read more of this author

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    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 th 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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    The Lotus Readers

    This was one of those novels that came as a complete surprise. I had no idea what to expect as I’d never read Joe Heap’s work before, but what started out adagio builds to an absolute crescendo of emotion and I shed tears over Ella’s story. Through two time frames we meet Ella as an old lady shipwrecked on a yacht called Mnemosyne with a small baby. She’s struggling physically and seems forgetful, whether through injury or age we don’t know at first. Then we are taken back to different points in This was one of those novels that came as a complete surprise. I had no idea what to expect as I’d never read Joe Heap’s work before, but what started out adagio builds to an absolute crescendo of emotion and I shed tears over Ella’s story. Through two time frames we meet Ella as an old lady shipwrecked on a yacht called Mnemosyne with a small baby. She’s struggling physically and seems forgetful, whether through injury or age we don’t know at first. Then we are taken back to different points in her life, significant moments with specific people. Whether with her for a short or long time, these are people she has lost and that loss had a massive impact on her life. We first meet Ella when she’s a little girl, living in a Glasgow tenement and spending time between her home and that of her friend Rene. Rene has a beautiful guitar, made for her by her father and Ella is quite jealous of it, wishing she had a father who could make such things. One evening, after school Ella wants to avoid going home and keeps Rene out in the cold on a local playground. Rene has asthma. The next morning, when Ella wakes she senses something wrong and when she goes into the main room where her parents are up and making breakfast she sees Rene’s guitar and knows immediately. Her friend is gone. This loss when she is so young, sets in motion events that will resonate throughout her life. First, it brings her into contact with Rene’s brother Robert who is a few years older. He brings her a parcel and she expects something terrible, some retribution or punishment for what she sees as her culpability in his sister’s death. What she opens is a block of ‘tablet’ a Scottish fudge-like sweet made by their mother with sugar and condensed milk. This gift cements their friendship, one which will last their entire lives. Secondly, after vowing never to look at Rene’s guitar she decides to learn and her father takes her to a music shop for a beginner’s guitar book. Yet Ella is drawn to something different. She picks up a book of seven guitar exercises featuring songs that encompass stages of life, from the child to the crone. Called The Songs of the Dead, the shop owner is unsure whether it’s suitable for a child but Ella is sure. It is each of these exercises that separates the sections of the book. The structure is incredibly well done, it feels natural and organic rather than a forced device. Each section comprises the song, the memory and then Ella’s present situation with an unusual element - each person she has lost returns from the past with her. It is never explained whether this is a supernatural element, whether Ella is hallucinating these characters or whether they’re a way of expressing how she remembers these people’s contribution to her life. Each one brings something to the present whether it is the mechanical expertise wanted to pump out the water in the hold, or a philosophical context to Ella’s experience. I loved how her friend Sandy describes life, death and time using the vinyl record as inspiration. He believes that we all still exist in time, even after death. In the same way other music tracks exist on a record, even while we’re playing a different one. The other tracks are always there, we have the memory of playing them, or anticipate hearing them again. They’re not wiped the moment a needle leaves the groove. There’s also the concept of two types of time; the time measured by clocks, work hours and timetables and a different kind of internal time. It’s something I discovered through meditation, but we all experience it from time flying when we’re having fun or the feel that summer holidays used to last forever when we were children. Time seems to speed up as we get older, it barely seems like we’ve got one Christmas over before another is round the corner. As adults we need to find positive ways to slow down our internal time such as mindfulness. For Ella, time is coming full circle, and she’s slowly revisiting each life that touched hers either for a moment or for a lifetime. Each character is so fully realised. I loved Lester, a one time lover of Ella’s who helps her cope with the baby when he’s ill. I found Mai, a young woman who met Ella briefly in the labour ward as they both gave birth to their children. In finding each other again Ella can fill in the gaps in Mai’s knowledge and reacquaint her with a son she never knew. In return Mai can help Ella face a loss she hadn’t fully apprehended. Each person’s story is so emotional and so real. I love that the author doesn’t judge any of the characters we meet, even where their influence on Ella isn’t always a positive one. We see them as fully rounded people and with such fondness, possibly because we’re seeing them through Ella’s lens and her love for them shines through. The settings are also vivid. I throughly enjoyed Ella’s period in London, playing as a session guitarist and sharing a flat with Robert. Musicians come and go, and the flat is a whirlwind of jam sessions and parties. The 1960s were equally exciting as Ella becomes very sought after and chance finds her playing on tracks with some famous names. Of course the party can’t last and not all Ella’s experiences are happy ones, but she learns from each one. Her time as a nurse in a burns unit was also well drawn and as anyone who cares for others knows, there are patients who will remember what you did for them and others who get under your skin and stay with you forever. Like every life there are moments of bliss, excitement and love. Similarly there are moments of grief, dislocation and despair. All the time Robert is there, repeating like a musical refrain, rippling quietly under the surface of the music or occasionally becoming the main melody. We all have those people who come and go, who don’t always figure in our everyday lives, but who are constantly there. There were so many points where I thought of my own life. I thought of my friend Elliot who I was close with through school, and after university, and who I see intermittently but think of constantly. My friend Nigel who died only a couple of years ago, we were only friends for a few years but he taught me so much, made me laugh and simply let me sit in his house and relax when I was a full time carer and desperately needed an escape. I am one of those people who fall in love with people I meet regardless of age, gender or situation in life. So, when I’ve worked in care there have been patients who have stayed with me forever, especially a little 90 year old lady called Mary who could sit on her own hair. I would go in on my days off and wash and dry it for her and she often used to sneak up and put her little hand in mine and follow me about while I made beds and doled out biscuits. I’ve often wondered when my time comes who would come to meet me. For anyone who has lost someone this story is especially poignant, but somehow it manages to stop short of sentimentality. Instead it feels profound, honest and raw and left me with such a beautiful bittersweet afterglow.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jaffareadstoo

    When the Music Stops is a fascinating look through all the myriad facets which make up the minutiae of a life. From childhood, through to the infirmity of old age, we follow the story of Ella and Robert from their school days in wartime Glasgow, through to the London of the swinging sixties, and beyond, and each time their lives intertwine so little pieces of themselves are left behind. Through seven important key points and with a continuous love for music, Ella's life is explored in detail, gen When the Music Stops is a fascinating look through all the myriad facets which make up the minutiae of a life. From childhood, through to the infirmity of old age, we follow the story of Ella and Robert from their school days in wartime Glasgow, through to the London of the swinging sixties, and beyond, and each time their lives intertwine so little pieces of themselves are left behind. Through seven important key points and with a continuous love for music, Ella's life is explored in detail, gently examining those moments which have been so important to her. Moving as it does between time frames, we begin to understand more about Ella, not just her past, but also her present, her regrets, and her successes, all of which give credence to her world which, in her eighties, has begun to be confusing to her. I enjoyed following Ella's journey through her fascinating life and the interesting way the story evolves helps to keep everything flowing in a thought-provoking way. Ella's colourful life as a musician comes to life, in particular through the music scores which are scattered like jewels throughout the more pertinent moments of her life. Taking inspiration from his own grandparents story, the author has written a beautifully, described look at love, loss, regrets and, ultimately, the treasure of keeping alive the memory of those people who capture our heart forever.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily Culverhouse

    I’m swiftly becoming a big fan of Joe Heap! His first novel (The Art of Seeing) was excellent and so is this. It’s a gentle story, in flashback, by an elderly lady suffering from dementia. She is travelling, by boat with her daughter and son in law, when there’s a storm at sea and Ella is left ‘holding the baby’. The story is of her struggle for survival with dementia while the reader learns of her life previously, as a successful guitarist. I thoroughly recommend this book...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This is a time slip novel which records the experience of a confused older woman in an extreme situation, as well as the story of Ella, a woman who experiences life and loss over much of her life. The book is held together by music, specifically seven pieces of music which express different elements of life. A moving and beautifully written story, the author has constructed a story which creates realistic characters and puts them in a narrative held together by music. Ella is specifically a guit This is a time slip novel which records the experience of a confused older woman in an extreme situation, as well as the story of Ella, a woman who experiences life and loss over much of her life. The book is held together by music, specifically seven pieces of music which express different elements of life. A moving and beautifully written story, the author has constructed a story which creates realistic characters and puts them in a narrative held together by music. Ella is specifically a guitarist, beginning with an inheritance that shapes her life while she meets people and has experiences that are possibly unusual for a woman at the time, in the nineteen fifties and sixties. As she grows up, moves to London, makes mistakes, meets people who become important to her, and has experiences which are recorded in quite a linear way, there are gaps and the indication that some people die. This is a semi fantastic novel which deals with music, life and death, and the attitudes of people who live on. The framing story of a woman in peril on a boat links into the main narrative in a unique way which is brilliantly handled. I found this a very readable novel, and was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this unusual book. The narration of the ongoing story which gives the framework for the life story is so constructed as to be imprecise and make the reader gradually realise. The older woman narrative is to be seen as battling with memory loss and confusion, but it also means that she is calm in what emerges as challenging circumstances. The potential loneliness of her situation is relieved in a most unusual way. The story of Ella begins in a poorer area of Glasgow, where she is at primary school with her friend Rene. When tragedy strikes she takes up a guitar, and discovers an obscure music book of seven pieces which she learns. Despite being female, she gets the opportunity to play with a small amateur band for a short while until life moves on. She discovers some of the highs and lows of love and life while getting short assignments to play the guitar. She grows up quickly, learning about people, dealing with problems of the time, avoiding some of the difficulties of London life, falling into other traps. The guitar playing is technically described, yet the spirit of the music as it develops through Ella’s life is movingly described. This is a unique novel about the love of music, the value of people who come and go in our lives, and the way that the memory of people survives. It asks questions about how people can be seen to live on, perhaps on the edge of conscious life for other people. It speaks of the decisions that people make, the tragedies that can happen as a result, the way that life flows on as a result of our choices. This novel in its two dimensions is a mature handling of the complexity of a life in the second half of the twentieth century. I found this a very readable book which drew me into Ella's story. I recommend it for all those interested in the trials and tribulations of being a professional musician, but also the gift of music to enable a positive life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lynsey

    In simple terms I adored this book! It follows the lives of Ella and Robert from their birth place of Glasgow, living in London and then finally into suburbia and family life. It’s a tale of missed opportunities and adventure, love and loss, hope and despair. It’s structure is just music itself and it definitely strikes a chord in my heart. I don’t think I have ever seen a book structured in this way before. Ella buys a score of songs when she is first learning to play the guitar and each of tho In simple terms I adored this book! It follows the lives of Ella and Robert from their birth place of Glasgow, living in London and then finally into suburbia and family life. It’s a tale of missed opportunities and adventure, love and loss, hope and despair. It’s structure is just music itself and it definitely strikes a chord in my heart. I don’t think I have ever seen a book structured in this way before. Ella buys a score of songs when she is first learning to play the guitar and each of those songs relates to a section of the book with the song printed at the start of it. I wish I still could read music as well as I used to as I’m sure the songs would be beautiful and haunting especially when you relate it to the narrative. I think ‘When The Music Stops’ grabbed me so much was due to the characters lives beginning in Glasgow. I could recognise so much of my home city and I could visualise scenes like those set in the docks vividly. It captures the essence of Glasgow in the 1950’s and I could even recognise my grandad back from the war and visually altered to those he loved. Ella and Robert would have been the same generation as my Mum and I remember her stories of being discriminated against in the workplace due to her gender, just like Ella. So much of this section of the book resonates with me and it grabbed and hooked me in so much so that I read the book in one sitting! I loved how Ella and Robert’s stories intertwined with one another - they would connect and then disconnect, connect and then disconnect, an ever revolving door. There are just some relationships like this - never meant to be, or are they? Does timing work out for them? Well for that you will need to read the book which is something I completely encourage you to do. An easy 5⭐️ review from me!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl M-M

    I cried. I won't say which part of the book made the tears flow, because that would give some of the plot away, but Heap managed to tug on those strings when I least expected it. Completely blindsided me after I had become almost complacent to Ella's almost natural ability to sail through every situation. To draw upon the strength and love of others to save herself when she finds herself in a state of confusion and complete isolation. I loved this book. It's plotted with precision and yet also has I cried. I won't say which part of the book made the tears flow, because that would give some of the plot away, but Heap managed to tug on those strings when I least expected it. Completely blindsided me after I had become almost complacent to Ella's almost natural ability to sail through every situation. To draw upon the strength and love of others to save herself when she finds herself in a state of confusion and complete isolation. I loved this book. It's plotted with precision and yet also has a unique element of chaos about it all at the same time. The endearing is combined with the selfish, the worry with the tender care, and the lies with the hard uncomfortable truth. Heap is an exceptional storyteller and that is perhaps what will attract the readers the most - his ability to switch from present, past and somewhere in between without losing focus or the attention of the person turning the pages. Ella isn't a perfect character. Ella is a main character who has lived a life full of regrets, wrong choices and paths never taken. This is what she realises subconsciously as her ability to keep memories, facts, people and time in a straight order is threatened by her own inner enemy. The author connects Ella, her emotions and memories to her musical abilities and a very special guitar. All of which is born from a sense of guilt, loss and grief, which is perhaps why is reluctant throughout to actually live the life she wants to. Being good, better and exceptional becomes synonymous with the ghost of her past - living her life for someone else? Her story takes place in a segment of memories, as she returns to those who have made the greatest impact in her life, as they in turn help her to overcome her fear in a time of need. It's truly an exceptional read I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to other readers. *I received a courtesy copy*

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Park

    When The Music Stops has to be one of the most unique books I have read! It’s beautifully written and highly emotional which makes it a very compelling read. There’s something very interesting about following one person throughout their life, especially if they have lived through some significant historical events. I found it fascinating to follow Ella and to see how certain things have shaped her life. That being said I never really warmed to Ella as a character as I found her to be very prickly When The Music Stops has to be one of the most unique books I have read! It’s beautifully written and highly emotional which makes it a very compelling read. There’s something very interesting about following one person throughout their life, especially if they have lived through some significant historical events. I found it fascinating to follow Ella and to see how certain things have shaped her life. That being said I never really warmed to Ella as a character as I found her to be very prickly and some of her decisions incredibly questionable. I did feel sympathetic towards her however and although I didn’t agree with her choices I had to admire her bravery. The story is told in two timelines one following Ella through the important events her life, while the other focuses on elderly Ella who is trapped in a sinking boat with a baby. While she is trying to work out what’s happening and care for the baby she is visited by old friends who help her make amends for past mistakes. I have to admit I enjoyed the flash backs to Ella’s life much more then the present day as I found it quite stressful reading about Ella trying to care for the baby. It was a weird situation as I wanted to keep reading to see what happens to them but at the same time wanting to skip that part as I found the tension too great. Overall I really enjoyed this absorbing and intriguing read which will definitely stay with me. I think I went through every emotion as I read, laughing and crying alongside the characters. I will be recommending this book to everyone and will definitely be buying a few copies as Christmas presents. Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and to Harper Collins for my copy of this book via Netgalley.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cal

    When the Music Stops by Joe Heap is a beautifully written and emotional tale that once started I did not want to put down. A unique and rather wonderful story that follows the lives of Ella and Robert, from their childhood on the streets of Glasgow during World War 2 through to the swinging sixties and beyond. Through seven key moments, Ella’s life intertwines with Robert’s as well as other key people, with music as a backdrop to their story as time marches on. Ella’s life is explored in great de When the Music Stops by Joe Heap is a beautifully written and emotional tale that once started I did not want to put down. A unique and rather wonderful story that follows the lives of Ella and Robert, from their childhood on the streets of Glasgow during World War 2 through to the swinging sixties and beyond. Through seven key moments, Ella’s life intertwines with Robert’s as well as other key people, with music as a backdrop to their story as time marches on. Ella’s life is explored in great detail, the important moments brought vividly to life as we move seamlessly between timelines. As the story continues we begin to get to know Ella as a person, living alongside her through her ups and downs, the dark moments and the light. In the present day Ella is in her eighties, caught up in a world she no longer understands. The chapters set in the present were the hardest to read as age begins to take its toll on the once vibrant person she used to be. I didn’t always like Ella or the choices she made throughout her life, but I did come to understand her and loved the time I spent getting to know her within the pages of this book. When the Music Stops was inspired by the story of the author’s own grandparents and he has done them proud with this beautifully written exploration of love, loss and the importance of holding on to the memories we have of those who have touched our lives. The use of music throughout the book is inspired and really helped bring the story alive for me. Joe Heap has written a unique and rather wonderful story, filled with a cast of flawed but fascinating characters I couldn’t help but fall in love with. A beautiful and highly emotional story that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

  25. 5 out of 5

    We(e) Read(s)

    I’m not sure there are words to describe how much I LOVED When the Music Stops by Joe Heap. I just adored everything about it. The premise, the characters, the setting, the writing, the music; they’re all just perfect. I almost want to turn back to the beginning and read it all over again! It tells the story of Ella’s life through a series of significant or life-changing eras. When we first meet her she’s in her 80s, battling dementia and (almost) alone on a boat in the middle of the sea. We then I’m not sure there are words to describe how much I LOVED When the Music Stops by Joe Heap. I just adored everything about it. The premise, the characters, the setting, the writing, the music; they’re all just perfect. I almost want to turn back to the beginning and read it all over again! It tells the story of Ella’s life through a series of significant or life-changing eras. When we first meet her she’s in her 80s, battling dementia and (almost) alone on a boat in the middle of the sea. We then flashback to her school days before and during the war, and then to various significant periods in her life, meeting her friends and following her careers and different lifestyles along the way. We see how there are certain constant threads that tie her life together, even when everything else seems to change: love, loss and music. This is such an original and emotional story; I’ve never read anything quite like it. Ella is a fabulous character, and I really admired how she managed to forge a successful career despite, as a woman, the odds being stacked against her. She leads a pretty turbulent life with a lot of difficulties, loss and heartbreak along the way. But she’s a fighter and manages to endure despite it all. From the outset I was invested in her friendship with Robert, a schoolmate and fellow musician who, over the years, she variously loses touch with and finds again. He’s such a loveable character that I couldn’t help but hope that he and Ella would eventually end up together. When the Music Stops is a book that makes you consider how small actions and decisions might take you on a very different path than the one you originally imagined. It looks at the huge impact that people might have on the lives of others, even if their meeting is only very brief. But most of all it’s just an absolutely brilliant read, one which I unreservedly recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    When The Music Stops by Joe Heap is a beautiful contemporary novel about life with its loves and losses. The story has a serene atmosphere as we see the life an octogenarian has lived. The novel alternates between present day and significant events in her past. The stories are linked by her love of music. The music remains even as the memory is going due to dementia. It is sad to witness the struggle for words but the power of past memories is huge. Present day is hazy but the past is rich and ve When The Music Stops by Joe Heap is a beautiful contemporary novel about life with its loves and losses. The story has a serene atmosphere as we see the life an octogenarian has lived. The novel alternates between present day and significant events in her past. The stories are linked by her love of music. The music remains even as the memory is going due to dementia. It is sad to witness the struggle for words but the power of past memories is huge. Present day is hazy but the past is rich and very much alive. As life is drawing to a close, far from being emptier, it is fuller as the memories of a life lived well mount up. Every loss hurts. Each loss is unique. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You never become desensitised to loss. Loss always cuts us to the core. When The Music Stops is a unique and very beautiful novel. I read it in just one sitting. Pathetic fallacy was employed as an actual storm mirrored the storms of life but the reader feels protected and cocooned by the calm and loving nature of an old lady. This is such a beautiful book of memories but most of all it is a book of love of a life lived well. I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steph Warren

    This is a poignant story-within-a-story, as we meet Ella in extreme circumstances at the very start, and clearly suffering from a degenerative memory-eroding illness, then travel with her through seven songs (The Child, The Maiden, The Lover, The Rebel, The Matron, The Mother and The Crone), which correspond to seven key moments in her life and seven important people, from childhood to her recent circumstances. Those flashbacks tell a story of what might have been, but wasn’t, as Ella and Robert This is a poignant story-within-a-story, as we meet Ella in extreme circumstances at the very start, and clearly suffering from a degenerative memory-eroding illness, then travel with her through seven songs (The Child, The Maiden, The Lover, The Rebel, The Matron, The Mother and The Crone), which correspond to seven key moments in her life and seven important people, from childhood to her recent circumstances. Those flashbacks tell a story of what might have been, but wasn’t, as Ella and Robert meet and part repeatedly to a backdrop of music, memory and a painted guitar. Reminiscent of stories like Life of Pi or Mitch Albom’s afterlife oeuvre, there are suggestions of unreality to Ella’s journey aboard the boat, Mnemosyne (very clever!), but her journey through her memories is rooted in the small details of realism that anyone might recognise from their own earlier days – the clothing, the food, and above all else, the music. An incredibly sad exploration of grief and aging, this story is also a testament to strength, love, and living a full life… however long you get.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karen Kingston

    I was hooked by the blurb for this book but still wasn’t prepared for how the story started and how we meet Ella. The story starts with a storm which leaves Ella holding her baby grandson on a damaged boat, trying to keep him alive until rescuers find them. During the time stranded on the boat, Ella revisits seven key moments in each decade of her life and meets seven people who she had lost during her lifetime. Each meeting is also linked to a piece of music, from the book of music Ella chose wi I was hooked by the blurb for this book but still wasn’t prepared for how the story started and how we meet Ella. The story starts with a storm which leaves Ella holding her baby grandson on a damaged boat, trying to keep him alive until rescuers find them. During the time stranded on the boat, Ella revisits seven key moments in each decade of her life and meets seven people who she had lost during her lifetime. Each meeting is also linked to a piece of music, from the book of music Ella chose with her dad in Glasgow. The audio book version will include the songs played in full. Ella’s journey takes her from Glasgow to London. Joe’s writing brings each of the seven periods in time to life, from the school days in Glasgow to the first flat in London to being in a maternity ward as a geriatric mother. I’ve read many books this year whilst furloughed, and this is one of the most poignant. This book is full of emotion and I was caught up in each story, shedding a few tears along the way. This is a no spoiler review, so you will need to read the book to find out if Ella saved her grandson. A five star book in my humble opinion, a lifetime of experiences captured in one stunning story. It will also make you think about who you would like to meet again, to maybe have a different conversation with. I’ve had Joe’s debut novel, The Rules of Seeing, on my Kindle for months and I look forward to reading it soon. Book launch event: On Thursday 28th October I attended Joe’s online book launch event organised by his publisher. It was fascinating to hear about Joe’s inspiration for the book, from how his grandparents met to becoming a father himself, to linking The Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare to the life of a woman linked by music. The Jack Shapiro who wrote the music in the book is a work of fiction based on Jack Sands, his grandfather.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A very enjoyable read which makes you think about your own life. The story is centred around Ella, who grows up in Scotland during WW2. Her life story is woven together with songs which punctuates seven stages of her life. The story charts her life, from her childhood, through her days as a musician when she plays sessions with some famous bands. It follows her times during the 60s and her dependence on drugs to enhance her playing. Reluctantly, she leaves that life behind, gives up playing musi A very enjoyable read which makes you think about your own life. The story is centred around Ella, who grows up in Scotland during WW2. Her life story is woven together with songs which punctuates seven stages of her life. The story charts her life, from her childhood, through her days as a musician when she plays sessions with some famous bands. It follows her times during the 60s and her dependence on drugs to enhance her playing. Reluctantly, she leaves that life behind, gives up playing music to work in a hospital. Apart from the songs and music, another thing which weaves through the story, that of the love Ella has for Robert, the brother of her friend at school. They meet at different times in the story, as they are living separate lives, but it is not until they are older that they declare their love for each other.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bec

    “Some people change your life forever” This was such a beautiful and interesting story. Ella has know Robert for her entire life. Though out all of the stages in their lives their journeys have always lead them back together. Set in Glasgow during WW2, sex, drugs and rock and roll were the rage in London. Ella plays the guitar and though each chapter of her life and the end of the section there is a song sheet. Ella has experienced so much love and loss throughout her life. People come in and chang “Some people change your life forever” This was such a beautiful and interesting story. Ella has know Robert for her entire life. Though out all of the stages in their lives their journeys have always lead them back together. Set in Glasgow during WW2, sex, drugs and rock and roll were the rage in London. Ella plays the guitar and though each chapter of her life and the end of the section there is a song sheet. Ella has experienced so much love and loss throughout her life. People come in and change your world, others come leave they mark on your soul and for some they leave too early. For all the things that should have been said however weren’t and for all the chances that were never taken. I loved this book and the unique formatting so very much. Such a unique love story, one to last the ages!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...