(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The human yearning for love-"to give it and to receive it in that familiar battle that all of us fight with loneliness"-is at the heart of McCall Smith's wistful stand-alone novel, as four strangers on an Edinburgh-to-London rail journey share stories of romance both thwarted and fulfilled. Art history student Andrew tells how he fell for the daughter of a disapproving business magnate. Hugh thinks his schoolteacher girlfriend might have an assumed identity. David recalls his unrequited affection for another man during summers spent in rural Maine. And in the book's most affecting tale, Kay recounts her Scottish father's emigration to the desolate Australian outback and pen pal courtship of her mother. VERDICT Subtle wit, leisurely pacing, copious references to W.H. Auden-the hallmarks of McCall Smith's storytelling are in full force here, as is his penchant for quiet vignettes. That's too bad, because the other story lines are less compelling than the evocative Australian scenes, which merit a full book of their own. Nonetheless, these interludes will provide the author's fans with another soothing literary sojourn. [See Prepub Alert, 11/30/12.]-Annabel Mortensen, Skokie P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.