5. A Book My Mom Loves
This book was great and could have filled so many check boxes on the list. But ultimately, I read it because my mother has always loved and raved about all of Alexander McCall Smith's work. So I chose this to be the one that my mom loves. (I'm not actually certain she has read this one, but the sentiment is there.)
Set in World War II, La finds herself living in the country with very little to do. She befriends a few, falls in loves with one, and has this idea to start an orchestra that includes men from the local airbase and people from town. Its a little bit of a love story and a little bit of a spy novel and a delicate rumination on peace.
I also learned something about WWII that I never knew. Poles who valiantly fought alongside Brits to free their country were never recognized at the end of the war. The Soviets negotiated this at the Yalta Conference at the end of the war. The author wanted to give a small mention of that often overlooked history lesson to his readers. Reading about the Polish airmen who watched the victory parade in tears because they were not allowed to march was heartbreaking.
I see why his writing appeals to so many. The storytelling was surprising with interesting and believable twists. The writing was good. The story happy and rewarding. It is a cozy day kind of read. I actually began to cry at the end of the war when La's orchestra gave its victory concert and the members and villagers recognized how vital music had been to their morale and to the war effort and again in the 60s during the Cuban missile crisis when she reconstituted her orchestra to play for peace. Winning wars is about preserving parts of life like the enjoyment of music and country life.