I haven’t read an Alexander McCall Smith is absolute ages! It may have been close to five years, I went through a phase of reading his stuff (and it was great with all the Edinburgh references). I got this one on discount on the Kindle, and it is quite an unusual work. There are 5-6 old photographs and what he tries to do is to create a short story out of each one.
In true Smith style, there is a strong central theme, in this case ‘love’ and the author manages to weave the different kinds of love into the lives of the various characters. What I loved about the book was how the characters all seem very ‘everyday.’ They could be the people who sat next to you on the bus or served you at the till. It really brings to life the concept of everyone has a story and when we meet someone or interact with them, it really is two personal story arcs meeting briefly before diverging again.
In particular, I loved the richeness of the first story and how it presents a snapshot of the life of an ex-nun. It was beautifully crafted from top to tail and ends in a bit of a flourish. Very enjoyable reading – I may be getting into that phase again!
I picked up this book because the blurb read like a very intriguing plot. Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married and co-own a successful hotel in the Lake District of England. They are super busy, filling and fitting their lives around each other and around their two daughters. When their younger daughter, Felicity, suffers a medical emergency while in France, Natty has to rush. To help with the care of Alice, the other daughter, and housework, she takes up the offer of an old college buddy. Eve is a psychologist, and soon we find out, a home wrecker. She goes all guns blazing on Sean and seduces him, so much so, that by the time Felicity and Natty are back, Sean wants out.
Now, Natty, devastated and tattered, is trying to scoop up some pieces of her battered self when she receives a note saying that this isn’t even the first time Eve has ‘stolen’ a husband! Natty takes it upon herself to prove to her husband that Eve is not what she seems and in exposing her, try and save her marriage and the lives of her daughters. There are a couple of other sub-plots involving her relationship with her father and her descent into some sort of psychotic behaviour as well. From this point on, the plot twists and turns to an exciting culmination of events. The book was an okay-ish read. Some of the parts of the plot were highly improbable, like the speed for which Sean falls for Eve, how successful she is in wrenching herself into the story, and how easily Natty falls apart. The writing style is decent, Paula Daly has a good flow going, easy-to-read and smooth. But the loopholes and the stretching of imagination was a bit much for me.
Even so I finished it, and it would possibly be a good read for a day or two on a beach holiday or a long haul flight 🙂