cover image Chance Developments

Chance Developments

Alexander McCall Smith. Pantheon, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-1018-7125-6

Smith once again exhibits his versatility with this vibrant and delightful collection of short stories all centering on the themes of love and happenstance. Preceding each story is a vintage photograph that Smith found while doing research for a different project, and from each photo a world emerges. In each story, the black-and-white static figures become people dreaming of new beginnings and romance, reminiscing on good times past, or lamenting lost love and opportunities. Smith peels off the layers of anonymity in these forgotten photos and imagines a new life for the subjects, and in one case the photographer. Featuring a nun abandoning her lifelong commitment to the veil to start fresh in a bigger city, a young circus performer who unwittingly tells an accurate fortune, and a man who stoops to a bit of subterfuge to meet a pretty lady, the stories are filled with the weight of real life and how chance finds its way in, no matter how we attempt to plan otherwise. Both uplifting and at times bittersweet and emotional, this collection is sure to delight both Smith fans and newcomers alike. (July)