La’s Orchestra Saves the World (2009) by Alexander McCall Smith is the first book in a long time that I have sat down and read in one sitting. McCall’s book is an old fashioned story set in Suffolk, England, during World War II. La, short for Lavender and pronounced “as in do-ra-mi-fa-so….,” has moved to the country after her marriage ends. The war breaks out and La stays in the country and begins to do her share by taking care of the chickens at a neighboring farm – an unofficial “Land Girl.” An injured Polish flyer, no longer able to fly, begins to work at the farm as well. Their relationship grows into a rich friendship but before it can deepen he is taken from the farm – in part because of La’s concern about his true background. Is he really Polish or is he a German?
La starts a community orchestra, enlisting neighbors, townspeople, and service men from a nearby air field. Their unconventional orchestra becomes a symbol for maintaining a normalcy in horrific times. The story is not about the orchestra at all, it is about the quiet and determined courage of the English people when faced, again, with war.
Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008), I think this book will inspire just as many book discussion groups.
This is the first McCall book that I have read. It is well written and the characters are wonderful. I am already searching for my next read by this author, any suggestions?