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Sonderbooks Book Review of

La's Orchestra Saves the World

by Alexander McCall Smith


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La's Orchestra Saves the World

by Alexander McCall Smith

Reviewed December 21, 2009.
Pantheon Books, New York, 2009. 294 pages.

Alexander McCall Smith is good at writing about ordinary people living radiant lives. La's Orchestra Saves the World is a stand-alone book, not part of one of his other series. It tells the story of La (short for Lavender), an ordinary woman who moved to the country at the start of World War II.

La contributes to the war effort in a small, ordinary way by growing a garden and looking after a farmer's hens. She meets interesting people, including a Pole who has lost sight in one eye and can't fight any longer. And she starts an orchestra.

This is a quiet, pleasant book, a little bittersweet. It tells about ordinary people living in extraordinary times and trying to make a difference in their own small ways.