Thursday, January 06, 2022

Musings on Music: Mix Tapes

Last year I had a feature called Music A-Z where each week I focused on a song or artist that started with a particular letter. Having gone through from A-Z sharing favourites, it's a bit hard to start again and come up with different favourites so I have had to think about something else to do in relation to music.

Rather than commit to a weekly post, I will be sharing Musing on Music whenever inspiration strikes. It might be a new song I hear that I love, or some obscure fact, or talking about a concert we've been to or it could be anything really. 

I thought I would start my musings to talk about a book that I read not too long ago in which music played a really large part.

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson was recommended to me by a friend at work who thought I might enjoy it.  And I did, but maybe not quite for the story as much as the idea and the setting. 

The book is a dual timeline predominantly set between late 1970s Sheffield in Yorkshire and 2013 Adelaide in South Australia. The reason those settings were winners for me is that spent most of my formative years in Adelaide and I lived in Sheffield for four years back in the late 90s. There is always something nice about being able to visualise when a character is driving from one place to another. It was a bit harder to remember Sheffield as it has been quite some time since I have been there, but reading the book did have me consulting Google Maps to look at the houses I lived in there.

The idea of the book is great. Dan and Alison were inseparable as teenagers, bonding over their love of music, until one day Alison disappeared, ultimately ending up in Australia. Years later, Ali writes a super successful novel. Dan, who is now married and living in Scotland, comes across her social media profile which brings back memories of the girl he loved. He sends her a message of a song that meant something to them, and so begins a series of messages they both share songs, reawakening the feelings that they had.

Soon both Dan and Alison are reevaluating their lives, their relationships and remembering what actually happened that cause Alison to leave Sheffield in a hurry and never look back. To be fair, she had good reason given the horrible home life that she had when growing up.

In the end, I didn't love this story, mainly because of the trail of damage that is left in the wake of the actions that are undertaken by the main characters, but I am glad that I read it, if for no other reason that it gave me the chance to reminisce.

One of the things I was very excited about when I opened this book is that the author has included a playlist so you can listen to the songs as the two characters interact which is super cool, and the playlist is even available on Spotify.

I do like it if an author shares playlists that they have listened to as they write books. Authors like Susanna Kearsley and Elizabeth Chadwick often share the songs that have provided inspiration for their characters. It does provide an additional layer.

I know that we can add whatever songs you like to your playlist on Spotify, but I couldn't help but think of the old days when you would create a cassette tape by recording songs that you heard on the radio.

Do you like it when an author shares their musical inspirations?

Rating 3.5/5

From Goodreads

You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is still to come?

Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape.

But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; she’d been the one to run away, after all.

Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past.

For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her too-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind.

And so begins a new mix tape.

Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across oceans and time zones, across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything…

Because what if ‘what could have been’ is still to come?

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