December 2009 Indie Next List
“As WWII begins, Lavender Stone's life in London comes to an abrupt end when she learns that her husband has run off with another woman. Seeking refuge in the countryside, Lavender (La to her friends) moves into her father-in-law's house in Suffolk, where, among other things, she starts an orchestra -- and discovers a friendship that proves to be the most important thing to her in a world turned upside down. You will adore this story.”
— Ann Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT
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.
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.
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?
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.
About the Author
Alexander McCall Smith has been involved in medico-legal issues for more than twenty years. He has lectured on the subject at universities throughout the world. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the United Kingdom, a member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO, and the Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the British Medical Journal. He is the author of a number of books in the areas of medical law and criminal law, including Law and Medical Ethics (with J. K. Mason), which is now in its fifth edition.
"Delightful . . . McCall Smith once again creates unforgettable characters and a story that will resonate with readers across generations . . . A fresh and unforgettable story about the power of human kindness. Highly recommended."
—Booklist (starred review)
"The evocation of war-torn England, with its palpable mood of defiance, determination and survival, is beautifully caught . . . An excellent recreation of a woman of her time."
"Unlike anything else in McCall Smith's work."
"Alexander McCall Smith writes about the enduring, patient qualities of love . . . The novel pays heed to our national yearning for a story to chew on."
—The Times (London)
"A gentle and uplifting read."
—The Daily Mail