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La's Orchestra Saves The World
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** 'The evocation of war-torn England, with its palpable mood of defiance, determination and survival, is beautifully caught' SCOTSMAN

About the Author

Following a distinguished career as a Professor of Medical Law, Alexander McCall Smith has turned to writing full-time. He is the author of over sixty books on a wide array of subjects, and his books have been translated into forty-five languages. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife.

Reviews

Set mainly during WWII in England, this quiet story about a woman who makes a new life for herself falls short of bestseller Smith's best work. After La Stone's husband leaves her for another woman in France, La retreats to a small cottage in Suffolk given to her by her mortified in-laws. The isolation and peacefulness suit La, who joins the Women's Land Army soon after the outbreak of war. When Feliks Dabrowski, an attractive Polish ex-pat, is assigned to the same farm where La is assisting with chores, La is attracted to him, despite her suspicions that Feliks hasn't been fully truthful about his past. La's idea to launch an amateur local orchestra to boost morale proves an unexpected success and helps give her purpose during the war's darkest days. While the understated prose appeals, La just isn't as interesting a creation as the author's two female sleuths, Precious Ramotswe (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and Isabel Dalhousie (The Sunday Philosophy Club). (Dec.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

** 'The evocation of war-torn England, with its palpable mood of defiance, determination and survival, is beautifully caught * SCOTSMAN *
** 'Alexander McCall Smith writes about the enduring, patient qualities of love . . . the novel pays heed to our natural yearning for a story to chew on * THE TIMES *
** 'A gentle and uplifting read * DAILY MAIL Books of the Year *
** 'Beautifully precise and psychologically acute * INDEPENDENT *

After her husband leaves her for another woman, Lavendar, or La, leaves London for the Suffolk home generously provided by her in-laws. Soon after, war with Hitler is declared, and La begins gathering eggs for a farmer, organizes an orchestra of servicemen and townspeople, and finds work for Feliks, a Polish airman who can no longer fly. After Feliks is wrongly accused of theft, La shares her concern that he is actually German, and he isn't seen in the village again until La's VE Day concert. As a dedicated fan of Mma Ramotswe, this reader was disappointed with the scattered nature and bland characters of Smith's latest. La never truly comes alive, and the details of her life don't add up to a cohesive picture explaining her choices. Elements of interest, such as wartime life in the English villages, how music can inspire, rebuilding life after the loss of a marriage, or options for a single woman with means and opportunity, are only skimmed. Verdict The author's name will make this a strong seller, but readers hoping for another Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be left wanting. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/09.]-Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., IL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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