Pianos and Flowers

Pianos and Flowers

ISBN: 9780593310960
Publisher: Anchor Books (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: 7 December 2021 . First published 19 January 2021 by Pantheon (Penguin Random House)

Pianos and Flowers is a remarkable gift of engaging short stories imagined by one the world’s greatest story writers.

Earlier this year, Alexander McCall Smith met the Scottish editor of The Sunday Times and agreed to write a series of short stories which would run in the paper. The Sunday Times opened up their archive of photographs and Alexander selected anonymous, black and white pictures, imagined the story behind the scenes depicted, and created delightfully playful stories to enchant the reader. These stories appeared in the paper but since then, Alexander has reshaped them, added new stories and they have now grown into a powerful, hugely entertaining collection of tales of love and romance: Pianos and Flowers.

When I was asked by the The Sunday Times to write a number of short stories for the newspaper, I suggested that I should select photographs from their extensive photographic archive, and create stories based on what I imagined the pictures depicted. Six of the stories were published in the paper – a few of them are included here, but the rest are new. We do not know, of course, who the people in these photographs were, nor what they were up to. They were almost certainly not doing what I say they are, but that is the joy of looking at photographs in this way: from the tiniest visual clue we can create a whole hinterland of experience – of love, of hope, of simply being human.


‘My most treasured possession is my bookcase filled with every book you have written.   I have read them all and they have greatly contributed to the peace and tranquility in my life.’
Reader letter
‘McCall Smith’s expert handling of conflict and rich imagination make this one his fans will enjoy’
– Publishers Weekly
‘No other author can consistently bring joy to me like Alexander McCall Smith. His books are gentle and quiet. Blink and you’ll miss some deeper observation, some quiet humour. I always return to his books as a balm for my soul. *****’  
‘The beloved author invites us to glimpse a world long departed… from Glasgow slums to Egyptian relics, love, friendship and happiness are the central themes’
Scots Magazine
‘A lovely little book from a master wordsmith. Using photos of anonymous people from a newspaper archive, Smith tells stories that by the end you half believe may be true. Under 200 pages, this book is a fantastic read that lets you suspend your belief and forget the hassles of 2019. In this case, a picture really does tell 1000 words.*****’