Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
A Bit Rushed
on 7 July 2013
I love Alexander McCall Smith's books. I have been reading them ever since the first No 1 Ladies Detective Agency was published, and I generally enjoy every book he produces, and he produces a lot of books. This one is not one of my favourites, it has to be said. It is sweet enough, telling the story of four random strangers who meet on a long train journey and begin to chat, sharing their stories about how love has affected them in greater and lesser ways. The premise was intriguing and I knew McCall Smith could handle this material in a way that I wouldn't find schmaltzy or irritating, and he did that, but I did find the stories rather clumsily put together. There seems to be a lack of finesse here, which is usually present in spades in his other work. I felt I had missed something here though, and reread several sections in case I'd missed some connection through inattentive reading. I hadn't.
The other thing I missed was McCall Smith's delightful sense of humour. Even in the saddest, most emotionally touching parts of his other books, there is a deftness of touch with humour which lifts the stories out of the ordinary and makes them special. That really wasn't in evidence here.
I felt like there could have been a fantastic novel here, but what we got instead was a rather rushed, alright novella.