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Pantheon
304 pages
Product Description
From the best-selling author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series comes a delightful and moving story that celebrates the healing powers of friendship and music.<b> <br></b><br>It is 1939. Lavender—La 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, La is in need of some diversion and wants to boost the town's morale, so she 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. <br><br>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? <br><br>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.
Pantheon
304 pages
Amazon.com Review
<strong>Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2009</strong> Fans of Alexander McCall Smith's female sleuths Precious Ramotswe and Isabel Dalhousie will find just a few mysteries punctuating the story line of his new stand-alone novel. The story is mainly concerned with the day-to-day life and concerns of a young widow named Lavender ("La") Stone, a promising Cambridge student who, like many women of her class and generation, finished school, married well, and led a comfortable and respectable life. In La's case, things go awry when her philandering husband unexpectedly leaves her, and dies shortly thereafter in a freak accident. In 1939, she retreats to her in-law's country house to sort out the emotional wreckage of her failed marriage and premature widowhood. In this self-imposed exile, she finds solace in contributing to the war effort--tending to the hens on a neighbors farm, cultivating a victory garden, and conducting an orchestra composed of local amateur musicians. In this quiet and intimate book, La’s rural life might seem inconsequential or perhaps even quaint, but her predicament and pathos are moving. And, her daily battles represent important generational and social struggles among women to lead independent and dignified lives in the face of hardship, moral ambiguities, burdensome class and social conventions, and isolation. La Stone may be rendered with softer lines and contours, yet she bears many of the memorable and inspiring qualities of McCall Smith's well-known heroines. <em>--Lauren Nemroff<br /><br /></em> <hr size="1" /> <span class="h1"><strong>Amazon.com Exclusive: Alexander McCall Smith on <em>La's Orchestra Saves the World</em></strong></span> <br /> <img align="right" border="0" height="178" src="http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/randoEMS/McCall-Smith_photo-credit-Chris-Watt.jpg" width="127" /> <p>I wrote <em>La’s Orchestra Saves the World</em> because I wanted to pay tribute to rather brave people. I wanted to say something about how ordinary people managed to get by during the Second World War. Most of them would not have regarded themselves as heroes and heroines, but they were. La (short for Lavender) was one of these. She worked on the land, helping a farmer with his chickens, and also started a little orchestra for British and American airmen. Music, she felt, helps. And it does--it inspires and heals.</p> <p>The other group I wanted to pay tribute to was the Poles. Polish servicemen played a major role in the war. Their airmen, for example, participated in the Battle of Britain, that crucial battle that decided the fate of Europe. At the end of the war the Poles were betrayed and the contribution of their forces largely ignored. In the victory parade in London, the Poles were not allowed to march with everybody else (Stalin insisted on this). So those brave men stood at the side of the road and wept. This book is about them too.<em>--Alexander McCall Smith</em></p> <p>(Photo © Chris Watt)</p> <hr size="1" />