“Trains and Lovers” by Alexander McCall Smith

trainsandloversTrains have always had a romance about them, and Alexander McCall Smith explores it in his latest book.

We have come to love McCall Smith for the characters he has created in his beloved series, i.e.: the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs, the 44 Scotland Street series and the Corduroy Mansions series.

This may be different as one of a kind, or it may start a new series. Who knows? At any rate, it’s the story of four passengers on the Edinburgh-London train: three men and one woman. McCall Smith quotes Auden’s Night Mail to show the poetic swing of a train: “This is the Night Mail crossing the border/ Bringing the cheque and the postal order.”

Sure enough, as the train winds down the North Sea and then dips inland, each of the passengers tells bits of his or her life through incidents of a love affair. The men are Scots, English and American; the woman came from Perth, Australia. As they rock down to London, McCall Smith shows how the train brings out that part of us that outweighs any other – our need for love – to give it and to receive it in that familiar battle that all of us fight with loneliness.

“The Scotsman” calls Trains and Lovers the best thing McCall Smith has written so far.

Review by Anne McDougall

“This and That: The Lost Stories of Emily Carr” by Emily Carr and Ann-Lee Switzer

thisandthatEmily Carr has always had a double audience: one for her painting, and the second for her writing.

This little book is a collection of sixty very short stories – really sketches – which Carr put together because she thought they “ornamented life, which would be a drab affair without the little things we do not even notice or think of at the time…”. She originally called the collection Hundreds and Thousands, after the tiny coloured candies sprinkled over birthday cakes. For the last thirty years they have been in the British Columbia Archives. Scholar Ann-Lee Switzer has studied Carr’s writings for some years and in fact lives near the Archives in Victoria.

The jottings were done by Carr in the last two years of her life. She had already published three collections of her stories: Klee Wyck (1941), The Book of Small (1942), and The House of All Sorts (1944). Her great mentor was Ira Dilworth, professor of English at the University of British Columbia, and later director of the Vancouver branch of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. They shared a love of poetry, and of the Canadian West.

These stories are intimate, funny, and show the sharp sensitivity that we have always loved in Emily Carr’s paintings.

Review by Anne McDougall

Elizabeth Kelly Signs “Last Summer of the Camperdowns” on Saturday, July 13 from 11:00am to 1:00pm

0871403404.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Local author Elizabeth Kelly will be in the store signing copies of her new book The Last Summer of the Camperdowns on Saturday, July 13 from 11:00am to 1:00pm.

About the book:

“The Last Summer of the Camperdowns introduces Riddle James Camperdown, the twelve-year-old daughter of the idealistic Camp and his manicured, razor-sharp wife, Greer. It’s 1972, and Riddle’s father is running for office from the family compound in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Between Camp’s desire to toughen her up and Greer’s demand for glamour, Riddle has her hands full juggling her eccentric parents. When she accidentally witnesses a crime close to home, her confusion and fear keep her silent. As the summer unfolds, the consequences of her silence multiply. Another mysterious and powerful family, the Devlins, slowly emerges as the keepers of astonishing secrets that could shatter the Camperdowns. As an old love triangle, bitter war wounds, and the struggle for status spiral out of control, Riddle can only watch, hoping for the courage to reveal the truth. The Last Summer of the Camperdowns is poised to become the summer’s uproarious and dramatic must-read.”

Be sure to check out this great event and add another book to your summer reading list! We hope to see you all here!