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Chance Developments

How many times in our lives have we come across a collection of old sepia toned photographs and wondered just who they were, what made up the days of their lives.

Who were these people captured in a moment of time to remain so for all eternity or at least the length of the life of the photograph.

When Alexander McCall Smith decided to take the process one step further, requesting friend and Editor Jamie Crawford, to find him a selection of black and white photographs he could use to weave around a selection of stories, the end result was a tender and delicate look at love in its many and various forms.

As the pages turn on five separate images, each of the stories reveals a life that was as intriguing as it is beguiling, all told in the gentle penmanship that is synonymous of McCall Smith.

Each of the stories has a different aspect to it, each one set in a differing part of the world, often with ties back to Scotland, with  each of the stories as intriguing or perhaps more so than the true story behind the people shown in the images.

The first one, ‘Sister Flora’s First Day of Freedom’, is about the coming of age of Flora as she steps out of the life she thought she was destined to lead and discovers that she truly can make choices, fall in love and declare she is a Protestant instead of a Catholic, because that is how she feels.

‘Angels in Italy’, is based on three children, two girls, one leading a pony or small bred horse and a little boy on a trike, wearing a kilt. Tuscany is the setting sometime after the end of the War as the story is told to a young man undertaking research about a love that survived all the odds.

‘Dear Ventriloquist’ changes the pace with a lovely, quirky story about a young man who dared to be different and the pathway he took, via the Circus, to find a love that would last him all his days.

Three people and a car that has broken down, sets the stage in Ireland for a genteel love story that includes family values and virtues as well as a handful of tacks, in ‘A Woman with the Beautiful Car’.

The final story, ‘He Wanted To Believe in Tenderness’, is set in Australia before, during and after the Second World War, as David struggles to try to return to normal life after being a captive of the Japanese.  He marries the love of his life Hannah, but life does not work out the way he expected it too and his love is put to the test again and again.

Each story is a delicate look at the power of love, friendship and the power of transformation it can create. Each one is beautifully told in true McCall Smith fashion.


AuthorAlexander McCall Smith
DistributorNew South Books