Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith

Review published on June 5, 2017.

This book is a little hero in the world of short stories.

Alexander McCall Smith is best known for novels about a female detective and stories about Scotland. However, the premise of this book sprang from being asked to write an introduction to a book about “orphaned” photographs. In that introduction Alexander chose to write short, some very short, stories around some of the photographs.

This spurred him to write a book about some photographs held by Historic Environment Scotland. So he asked the curator to give him five unconnected black and white photographs, with no details about the subjects in them.

The stories around the photographs, which are shown at the beginning of each of the five stories, are all very different, and some are quite unique. From a nun leaving her order and deciding to find a man and live back in the real world, to a former soldier’s picture of his mother and father, the stories are set around the world from Edinburgh to Italy, and from Ireland to Australia.

I found these stories magical, and I wished they could have all continued into full novels, and yet they were completely satisfying as they were.

I shall certainly look out for more of McCall Smith’s books and I hope other people enjoy these as much as I did. Former times were brought alive by vivid descriptions of people and places, and there would be much to discuss in a book group where each story stands on its own.

I have to say that I don’t normally read short stories, but will be encouraged to try more of them by other authors as well.

Sue Goult 5/5

Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith
Polygon 9781846973703 pbk May 2017

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