Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week 20: La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is famous for his series "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency". I'll admit - I haven't read them!

In his latest book, "La's Orchestra Saves the World", Alexander McCall Smith introduces a determined - if not completely confident - Lavender "La" Ferguson Stone. By way of an unfortunate event, La winds up living in Suffolk, England throughout World War II. Even though she is Cambridge-educated, La pitches in around her village, helping her neighbors while their sons and hired help were sent off to war. It was important that we heard La's story. Of course the U.S. had Rosie the Riveter, but do we know what women in allied countries did to help their war effort? And how did they truly feel about the war to begin with?

This was a fairly easy book to get through. McCall Smith's character development was done well, although I wasn't nuts over the way the he developed the plot. There were funny little insertions here and there, when something needed background. I could almost see the editor's notes in those cases.

Perhaps her story isn't true - or typical (not all of us fall headfirst into money) but La's best characteristics - enthusiasm, determination, flexibility, and ingenuity under drab circumstances - shone through in this book.

It was good, light reading - the perfect "beach book".

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