La’s Orchestra Saves the World,  Alexander McCall Smith

This was one of those books. You know the ones-the ones you’re supposed to like, but you find them rather lacking. The premise promised to be uplifting. La, a woman living in a small English town during World War 2, decides to start a village orchestra to boost morale and show everyone the transformative and healing power of music. However, the book was much more focused on La’s rather mundane daily existence. There was no sense of who the characters in the orchestra were, how they interacted with each other, or how the music helped to hold them together. At various points the charcters tell us how great the orchestra was, but the reader never gets to witness it firsthand. And the ending just didn’t work for me. It’s a personal pet peeve when authors are too afraid to have an unhappy ending that they tack on something that doesn’t really fit with the story. I’d rather have taken something extremely depressing than the unlikely finish to this tale, because as most of us know second chances are pretty rare, and this one didn’t work.

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Reading it once was plenty