Pianos and flowers Brief encounters of the romantic kind

Alexander McCall Smith, 1948-

Book - 2020

"In Pianos and Flowers we are invited, through the medium of sepia images, to glimpse a world long departed. In these stories, inspired by long-lost photographs, the lives of the people in the frame are imagined and then explored, layer by layer. What must it have been like to be them? We hold our breath for them. Our heart beats faster for them. We look again at the photograph in a new light, and say Yes, it might have happened just like that. This journey of exploration takes us to some e...xotic places. We share the lives of three sisters, brought up in Penang. We read of what happened to them, and to their Chinese neighbors caught in the tides of war. We see a group of small boys in a Glasgow slum, their young lives stunted by poverty, and hear how life worked out in contrasting ways for them. We follow a young woman's search for love in the unlikely realm of Egyptian antiquities. And through all of these photographs, and all of these stories, there runs the same refrain: the possibilities of love, of friendship, of happiness lie before us. There are big stories in these simple pictures. At first glance the photographs may seem unexceptional: the mere freezing of a moment in time. But delve deeper and you will realize that these photographs speak volumes"--

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1st Floor FICTION/Mccallsm Alexande Due Jul 5, 2022
1st Floor FICTION/Mccallsm Alexande Due Jul 15, 2022
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Subjects
Genres
Short stories
Romance fiction
Published
New York : Pantheon Books [2020]
Edition
First United States edition
Language
English
Item Description
"Originally published in Great Britain by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh in 2019"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
ix, 179 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780593315750
0593315758
Main Author
Alexander McCall Smith, 1948- (-)
  • Pianos and flowers
  • I'd cry buckets
  • Sphinx
  • Maternal designs
  • The dwarf tale-teller of the Romanian Rom
  • Duty
  • Iron jelloids
  • Students
  • Zeugma
  • Urchins
  • St. John's wort
  • Blackmail
  • Pogo sticks and man with bicycle
  • La plage.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Smith (the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series) returns with a placid collection inspired by photographs from the London Sunday Times archive. The photos appear alongside each story, their subjects generally imagined to possess lonely souls. In the heartbreaking "I'd Cry Buckets," the feelings between two teenage boys in Scotland go unsaid, leading to decades of missed opportunities for love. The comical "St. John's Wort" features a crafty Scottish wife who concocts an herbal remedy for her frazzled husband who is obsessed with the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the misery-filled title story, WWII uproots a wealthy British rubber company executive and his family. In "Students," a fuming landlord learns the pitfalls of renting to university students. Smith's polished descriptions enliven the photos' time capsule qualities and convincingly explore the societal conventions of their eras, but none of the characters is very distinctive and some may as well be interchangeable, typified by the passive 26-year-old Scottish woman who moves to London in "Sphinx": "She had drifted into something... without any conscious assertion of will, any firm choices, because it was easy." Still, Smith's expert handling of conflict and rich imagination make this one his fans will enjoy. (Jan.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An anthology of 14 stories by the best-selling author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series imagines the rich lives and loves behind everyday people featured in pictures from the London Sunday Times photograph archives. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In Pianos and Flowers we are invited, through the medium of sepia images, to glimpse a world long departed. In these stories, inspired by long-lost photographs, the lives of the people in the frame are imagined and then explored, layer by layer. What must have it been like to be them? We hold our breath for them. Our heart beats faster for them. We look again at the photograph in a new light, and say Yes, it might have happened just like that. This journey of exploration takes us to some exotic places. We share the lives of three sisters, brought up in Penang. We read of what happened to them, and to their Chinese neighbors caught in the tides of war. We see a group of small boys in a Glasgow slum, their young lives stunted by poverty, and hear how lifeworked out in contrasting ways for them. We follow a young woman's search for love in the unlikely realm of Egyptian antiquities. And through all of these photographs, and all of these stories, there runs the same refrain: the possibilities of love, of friendship, of happiness lie before us. There are big stories in these simple pictures. At first glance the photographs may seem unexceptional: the mere freezing of a moment in time. But delve deeper and you will realize that these photographs speak volumes"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A delightful collection of stories and photographs from the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, imagining the lives and loves of everyday people in the twentieth centuryPictures capture moments in time, presenting the viewer with a window into another life. But a picture can go only so far. Who are the people in the image? What are their fears? What are their dreams? The fourteen captivating tales in this collection are all inspired by photos from the Times of London archive. A young woman finds unexpected love while perusing Egyptian antiquities. A family is forever fractured when war comes to Penang, in colonial Malaysia. Iron Jelloid tablets help to reveal a young man’s inner strength. And twin sisters discover that it’s never too late to forge a new path—even when standing at the altar.   There are big stories behind these simple images. Though at first glance they may appear to represent small moments, these photographs in fact speak volumes, uncovering possibilities of love, friendship, and happiness. With his indomitable charm, Alexander McCall Smith takes us behind the lens to explore the hidden lives of those photographed; in so doing, he reveals the humanity in us all.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A delightful collection of stories and photographs from the best-selling author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, imagining the lives and loves of everyday people in the twentieth centuryPictures capture moments in time, presenting the viewer with a window into another life. But a picture can go only so far. Who are the people in the image? What are their fears? What are their dreams? The fourteen captivating tales in this collection are all inspired by photos from the Times of London archive. A young woman finds unexpected love while perusing Egyptian antiquities. A family is forever fractured when war comes to Penang, in colonial Malaysia. Iron Jelloid tablets help to reveal a young man’s inner strength. And twin sisters discover that it’s never too late to forge a new path—even when standing at the altar.   There are big stories behind these simple images. Though at first glance they may appear to represent small moments, these photographs in fact speak volumes, uncovering possibilities of love, friendship, and happiness. With his indomitable charm, Alexander McCall Smith takes us behind the lens to explore the hidden lives of those photographed; in so doing, he reveals the humanity in us all.