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3 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z

La's Orchestra Saves the World

by

La's Orchestra Saves the World Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. Who are the two brothers in the beginning of the novel? Why are they visiting La's former house in Suffolk? And why does Alexander McCall Smith commence the novel with them? Why does he purposely make their background vague?

2.   Why does La marry Richard? Are they compatible in any way? How does time and place influence their decision to get married? Do you think they would have gotten married if they were dating in 2009? At one point later in the novel, La says to Mrs. Agg, "People are the products of their time." What does this mean? Do you agree?

3.  In this novel, what are the differences, both obvious and subtle, between life in the city and life in the country in the days before and during World War II? Where would you have preferred to live?

4. Why is Suffolk life so therapeutic for La when she's single again? Do you think she really likes gardening? How is a wartime garden different from a peacetime garden, according to La?

5. There are many references in the novel to suffering in life and the power of music to heal and to provide hope and joy. What is it about music that gives it these properties—and in this novel, particularly classical music? How is different music good for different things, according to the novel? Do you agree?

6.  How is music the antithesis of war?

7. How does La's orchestra raise morale and provide a diversion and hope to those playing instruments as well as to the townspeople in the audience?

8. What is the importance of Henry Madden in the novel? Why is he so stubborn and bitter? After being blamed by his wife for the death of his son, why does he, in the absence of any proof, accuse Feliks of being a thief?

9. What do you think the author is saying about xenophobia— the suspicion and hatred of foreigners and "others"—especially during wartime? How do you think things have changed from the 1940s to the present?

10. How did the war transform lives in this novel, turning some upside down in a negative way and others in a positive way?

11. Do you think this is an antiwar novel or do you think it says that war is inevitable?

12. Why does La betray Feliks although she acknowledges that she is in love with him? Do you think she was scared of her feelings for him and this exacerbated her suspicions?

13. Why is La also suspicious of Lennie (who is different from most boys his age), and why does she accuse him to the police with no proof? Does the heightened atmosphere of war cause her to not trust anyone?

14.  Describe La's relationship with her Cambridge tutor, Dr. Price. Why is it so fraught with tension? Do you think if La hadn't married, she would have turned out more like Dr. Price?

15. Why does the author, near the end of the book, suddenly switch from the third person to the first person, so that we suddenly hear the story in La's voice? How does this affect your reading of the novel?

16.  In the book, "people took pleasure where they could find it, and with gratitude." How are people able to do this, especially when things are in short supply?

17. By the end of the novel, how does music bring love back into La's life?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307378385
Author:
McCall Smith, Alexander
Publisher:
Pantheon Books
Author:
Smith, Alexander McCall
Subject:
World War, 1939-1945 -- England.
Subject:
Orchestra
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20100131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
7.34x5.28x1.08 in. .73 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

La's Orchestra Saves the World Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$23.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780307378385 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Set mainly during WWII in England, this quiet story about a woman who makes a new life for herself falls short of bestseller Smith's best work. After La Stone's husband leaves her for another woman in France, La retreats to a small cottage in Suffolk given to her by her mortified in-laws. The isolation and peacefulness suit La, who joins the Women's Land Army soon after the outbreak of war. When Feliks Dabrowski, an attractive Polish ex-pat, is assigned to the same farm where La is assisting with chores, La is attracted to him, despite her suspicions that Feliks hasn't been fully truthful about his past. La's idea to launch an amateur local orchestra to boost morale proves an unexpected success and helps give her purpose during the war's darkest days. While the understated prose appeals, La just isn't as interesting a creation as the author's two female sleuths, Precious Ramotswe (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and Isabel Dalhousie (The Sunday Philosophy Club)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Set in England at the onset of World War II, McCall Smith's new tale is a metaphor for the transformative power of music.... crafted with the author's usual wit, wisdom and grace."
"Review" by , "The author's name will make this a strong seller, but readers hoping for another Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be left wanting."
"Review" by , "Smith shows his heroine, who believes that "music could make a difference in the temper of the world," triumphing over the details of everyday life by immersing herself in them...completely"
"Synopsis" by , From the bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series: a delightful and moving story that celebrates the healing powers of friendship and music. La escapes World War II-ravaged London and a shattered marriage and relocates to a small African village. But can she really escape her past — or create a new life?
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