In La's Orchestra Saves the World, WWII is looming in England and everyone is trying to help out, including La. She is lonely, suffering from a broken heart and wants to help out with the war effort. She decides to start an orchestra to bolster everyone's spirits and to provide a distraction from the horrors of war. The orchestra is a success and friendships are formed, but when the war is over and the members of the orchestra go their separate ways, La is left wondering what life has in store for her.
This is an extraordinary book. I've only read a few of Alexander McCall Smith's books, but it's easy to see why books are so popular. He's an exceptional storyteller with outstanding characters. La's story is quaint, unassuming and transports the reader back in time. His writing is lush with details and gave me a sense of really being there. It was like going on an adventure. I could see La riding her bicycle. I could see her feeding the chickens on Madder's farm. I wanted to tell her she didn't need to be lonely because I was there. Even though it takes place in another time and place, it is still very accessible. Every time I picked up the book it was like returning to an old friend who had news to share.
The book is filled with many fascinating characters, but La was my favourite. She was determined and caring. She knew that music could bring them all together in a time of suspicions and divisions. I also liked (or maybe felt sorry for) Henry Madder and wished he was in the story more. Like La, he was inconsolable and lonely. Life wasn't easy for him, but he persevered. While I liked Felix, he seemed a bit standoffish and was more reserved than La. In hindsight, considering the time period and location of the story, it is easy to see why.
Highly recommended. It was a pleasure to read this book. My only complaint is that I wanted more. I'm so glad he's such a prolific and wonderful writer. I'll have many more adventures with him.
Want to learn more about this book? You can read the synopsis at Random House.
This review copy was provided by the publisher through the wonderful people at Edwards Magazine.