La's Orchestra Saves the World
by Alexander McCall Smith
I've enjoyed reading several of this author's books and seeing him speak in person. I was interested in this book because it's a standalone, something rare in Alexander McCall Smith's work. In it, a woman named La settles for a husband (who isn't very nice to her) who ends up leaving her and then dying and leaving her his house in the countryside. It takes her a while to settle into country life, learn about her neighbors, and adjust to WWII going on. It's a scary time, and La does her part by putting together a tiny orchestra that includes people from the village, people from the nearby military base, and the Pole who is working for the same farmer she works for. There's possibility of romance. There's possibility of betrayal. And there's possibility of La having one thing in her life that she does to make a difference in the world.
I really came to like La and like how important things she does feel, because she's a good person with good intentions in a difficult situation. She embodied the hard-working, noble, ordinary Englishwoman. I can't say I totally fell for this book the way I have with others, but I definitely enjoyed it and wanted to keep reading to find out where it was going. I enjoyed the orchestra and the sense of purpose and responsibility of those in it. The orchestra is glossed over, barely even in the book. And the time jumps are strange. Until you get to the end and realize the impact the orchestra has had on everyone as well as the transformative power of music in general.
I nice read with just enough character development and thought-provoking situations.