Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith

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Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith

AMS Chance.jpg
Buy Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Delightful short stories that leave you people-watching for days afterwards.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 280 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Polygon
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781846973291

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Sometimes, if I'm in a cafe by myself, I like to watch the people around me and imagine stories about their lives. Just a single sentence, overheard, can lead to wonderous tales of mystery and intrigue whilst I sip my cappuccino! So I was delighted to sit down to read the latest offering from AMS, not only because he wrote it, but because he wrote it after looking at 5 different black and white photographs, and then imagining the stories behind them. Who are all these people, and what are their stories? Each story is unique, and yet they all have one abiding link...love.

Each story is set somewhere different, and we travel through the Scottish highlands, across Canada, out to Australia, around Edinburgh and to a small village in Ireland. Every story is different, all the characters are perfectly drawn, and whilst you read you are entirely captured in the world of that particular photograph. And yet, the stories are not just about that one captured moment, but sometimes encompass a whole lifetime! It's rather like reading a mini-novel, and AMS seems to have no difficulties with the short story format as they read fluidly, movingly, and whilst you read the characters he creates are very much alive in your mind.

There are moments of sadness, and moments of humour. He writes just as convincingly of a nun who decides to leave the convent as he does of a Canadian boy who joins the circus! Everything seems entirely believable and somehow, even when things don't work out in the usual happy fashion, life and love (and AMS!) find a way to make everything okay. My favourite story in the book is Dear Ventriloquist and is about the boy, Eddie, who joins the circus. Yet the photograph that inspired the story shows two of the other characters, Ruby and Frank, and actually it is Eddie who took the photo, so although the story is his, we don't get to 'see' him. I'm not entirely sure why I loved this story so much. It's a little bit odd, and Eddie is a tricky character to get a handle on, but I loved Ruby and Frank, and the way that the story worked. I had no idea what would happen, and so that was rather exciting, and it had a very satisfying ending.

All of the stories are excellent, and they all feel very different, working in their own way in very different settings and surroundings. After all the gorging I do with his Mma Ramotswe books and Isabel Dalhousie (and the rest…) it was lovely to meet all of these new people, and get their stories all in one go, like an adrenaline shot! I found I needed to take a moment, after each one, to readjust myself and settle back into the real world, and it's always rather magical when a book makes me feel that way.

Finally, this is also a beautifully made book, and although we are told to never judge a book by the cover, if you do sometimes, secretly, judge then let me assure you that there is nothing lacking here! My favourite part of the design is the photo corners depicted on each photo on the inside covers! They add such a wonderful, old-fashioned photo album feel to the book, and I spent a long time after I finished reading just looking at the photographs, thinking about the stories I'd read, and wondering who these people were in real life. The whole book is perfectly sized, and a wonderful design. Just right for dipping into of an evening, I really loved this book.

Further reading suggestion: For more short story delights you might like to try Fup by Jim Dodge and The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

Buy Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.com.

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