Friday, May 7, 2010

Meeting of April 26th 2010

We met at Jolene's home to discuss this month's book, La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith, Jolene's choice. At the meeting Beth, Betty, Carla, Colette Janet, Jolene, Linda, Shirley and Michèle were present.

Mr. McCall Smith is best known as author of The No. 1 Laides' Dectective Agency and he has also written The Portuguese Irregular Verbs Series and In the 44 Scotland Street Series and The Isabel Dalhouse Series. He has also written several non-fiction books in his original professional field of medical law. He was born in Southern Rhodesia which is now Zimbabwe. He has also written several books for children.

All liked the book and found it to be an easy enjoyable read. The story describes in part, life during World War II in rural England. The story and the creation of La's Orchestra brought out England's determination throughout World War II and the bombing to keep everyone's spirits up and not allow the enemy to defeat them. It also brought out the push during the War for all to do their part, however small. La for example, not only conducted the Orchestra but also helped out a local farmer and grew a vegetable garden. Everyone had to do their part. This was also spelled out in La's struggle with her conscious when she found the need to talk to Constable Percy Brown of her suspicions that Lenny Agg had stolen Henry Madder's money and then to Tim Honey about her suspicions that Felix was in fact German and not Polish. She felt it was her duty to protect England. Many stories written about England and WW II, talked about the British determination. Beth referred specifically to Lady Diane Cooper's biography in which she described the determination of the British.

Most of us felt that the last part of the book was a bit rushed as if the author was trying to tie up all the loose ends, La's attempt to participate in demonstrations during the Cuban crisis is a good example.

Many of us liked that she eventually met again with Feliks. Carla compared it to "Love among the Ruins" the poem by Robert Browning. Some of us, however, had not realized the link between Felix's boys and the young men at the beginning of the book who visited Suffolk, La's home and the back garden where she had grown potatoes and the building where the Orchestra practiced and performed.