Tuesday, August 18, 2009

La's Orchestra Saves the World, Alexander McCall Smith

Posted by lea at 2:41 PM
My love of Alexander McCall Smith is tempted to rate this novel higher than I otherwise might, but I must be honest. It's lovely and gentle and slow but not a riveting read.

The central character is La (short for Lavender), a British woman who finds her life upturned when her husband leaves her for another woman. Not the type to hold a grudge, she moves to a cottage in the countryside and begins to contribute her small part towards the war effort - one of her endeavours being to start a village orchestra. Based on the title of the book, I'm led to believe that McCall Smith may have meant the theme to be about the power music, but I didn't really get that sense as a reader. The orchestra (and the war itself) seemed rather incidental to the central storyline... and I use the word 'storyline' very loosely because there really isn't much of one. She ponders, she meanders, she wonders and thinks, and while it's all very lovely, it isn't exactly the stuff of literary genius.

The saving grace of the novel is the slight romance between La and Feliks, a 'Pole' displaced by the war and now working for the British Army. It's not hot and steamy by any means, but very adult and genteel, much like the rest of the book.

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