Book Review: La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
This is a beautifully written stand-alone novel that is unlike anything that prolific and popular Alexander McCall Smith has written before. Set around the Second World War, La moves from London to the Suffolk countryside nursing a broken heart. This novel is an endearing story of La’s time there when war breaks out. She proves to be a resourceful young woman who wants to do her bit for the war effort, and part of her efforts is organizing an amateur orchestra – which doesn’t save the world, despite the catchy title – but it certainly keeps spirits high as the war continues, and captures the mood of determination and survival of the people of England shaking their fists at Hitler. One of her musician recruits is the handsome Polish refugee, Feliks, and as time progresses she finds she has feelings for him – but does he feel the same way?
This is a poignant story of love and friendship, and an insight into country life in England during wartime, the pitching in together for the common good, and the resolve to maintain their way of life. It is also a novel that highlights, in a gentle way, the injustices that the Polish people suffered during and after the war. At the book’s heart is a mystery – is Feliks who he says he is, or is he someone completely different? This is a lovely novel, light and easy to read, but full of depth and wisdom. I would highly recommend this to fans of Alexander McCall Smith, but also to people who might not have read him yet. Give La’s Orchestra Saves the World a go and be prepared to be transported to another time; to be charmed by La, the main protagonist; and to be moved by a story that is essentially about love and compassion, hope and forgiveness.