It is 1939. LavenderLa to her friends decides to flee London, not only to avoid German bombs but also to escape the memories of her shattered marriage. The peace and solitude of the small town she settles in are therapeutic ... at least at first. As the war drags on, in need of some diversion and to boost the towns morale, La organizes an amateur orchestra, drawing musicians from the village and the local RAF base. Among the strays she corrals is Feliks, a shy, proper Polish refugee who becomes her prized recruit and the object of feelings she thought she'd put away forever.
Does La's orchestra save the world? The people who come to hear it think so. But what will become of it after the war is over? And what will become of La herself? And of La's heart?
With his all-embracing empathy and his gentle sense of humor, Alexander McCall Smith makes of La's life and love a tale to enjoy and cherish.
"This book is unlike anything else in McCall Smith's work. It is at times beautifully precise and psychologically acute, at others hurried or in pursuit of rather meaningless sub-plots. Its emotional depths may disconcert some of his huge fan base, but also give them unexpected pleasure." - The Independent (UK)
"As love stories go, this is more Brief Encounter than Captain Correlli's Mandolin. La is an excellent recreation of a woman of her time, and as we reach the book's final full stop it becomes essential to return to that cryptic beginning to fully savour the story's resonance and depth." - The Scotsman
"... the characters are gauze-thin and the plot meanders along like a country lane... " - The Observer (UK)
"If you enjoy a meditative, amusing and predictable sort of novel then you'll pass an enjoyable couple of hours with La's Orchestra, but like La herself, the book sits alone and awkward, unsure of its rightful place." - Scotland on Sunday
"While the understated prose appeals, La just isn't as interesting a creation as the author's two female sleuths...." - Publishers Weekly
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Rated of 5
La’s Orchestra Saves the World is a stand-alone novel by Alexander McCall-Smith. It is set around the time of the Second World War in England. Lavender Stone (La to her friends) leaves London for a Suffolk village in the wake of a disastrous marriage. When the war starts, she becomes a part of the small community in her village. She sets up an orchestra which brings the village and the men on the nearby airbase together and gives them some hope for the future. She also meets Feliks, a shy Polish pilot who has an unexpected effect on her. For me, this book somehow has the feel of Mary Ann Shaffer’s Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, perhaps because it is set in the same time period. The end seemed to be headed for a let-down, but the last page was a pleasant surprise. As with all Alexander McCall-Smith’s books, filled with gentle philosophy: it was a joy to read.
Alexander McCall Smith began the now highly successful 'No 1 Ladies Detective
Agency' series in 1996, after being inspired by the sight of a 'traditionally
built' Botswanan lady chasing down a chicken for a meal. The first book in
the series - 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' was published in the UK
in 1998 but didn't arrive in the USA until 2001.
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