Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith

Review published on August 1, 2016.

In this unique collection, Alexander McCall Smith takes several anonymous old black-and-white photographs, and imagines the stories behind them. Who were these people and what was interesting about them? Why is that man sitting on that woman’s lap? Why is the little boy scowling on his tricycle? Who is changing the tire on that old car for the woman in the posh white coat? One reviewer aptly described it as ‘people watching’ in book form!

PhotographPhotoSmith’s talented imagination produces poignant tales of love and friendship in a variety of settings including an estate in Scotland, a travelling circus in Canada, an Australian gold-mining town, and a village in Ireland. The key to the entertainment of this simple prose is McCall Smith’s beguiling story-telling and the immediate curiosity that the pictures evoke. These are marvellous little inventive pieces, quick to get into and inevitably ending way too soon.

This beautiful little volume makes a lovely gift because it is also an attractive book as object – a red hardcover, complete with glossy photographs, old-fashioned photo album corners, and a silk red ribbon bookmark. Since this is a stand alone novel, not part of any of his series, it would be a great introduction to Smith’s writing style for those who do not know him and a tasty treat for those who do.

Joanne Booy 4/4

Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith

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The Allegations by Mark Lawson

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