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Publisher's Summary

The Pavilion in the Clouds is a new stand-alone title from best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith.

It is 1938 and the final days of the British Empire. In a bungalow high up in the green hills above the plains of Ceylon, under a vast blue sky, live the Ferguson family - Bella, a precocious eight-year-old; her father, Henry - owner of Pitlochry, a tea plantation - and her mother, Virginia. The story centres around the Pavilion in the Clouds, set in the idyllic grounds carved out of the wilderness. But all is not as serene as it seems. Bella is suspicious of her governess Miss White's intentions. Her suspicion sparks off her mother's imagination, and after an unfortunate series of events, a confrontation is had with Miss White and a gunshot rings off around the hills. 

Years later, Bella, now living back in Scotland at university in St Andrews, is faced once again with her past. Will she at last find out what happened between her father and Miss White? And will the guilt she has lived with all these years be reconciled by a long over-due apology?

©2021 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2021 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What listeners say about The Pavilion in the Clouds

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Charming reflection on life and the lives of expats

This was just the book to pull me out of the doldrums. As always AMS has crafted a beautiful story of charming characters, mostly Scottish expats, living in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) on tea plantations as the Empire is winding up and the Second World War is warming up. The story is largely focused on 8 year old Bella and the conflict stirred in her family with the presence of her nanny Miss White. The story in Ceylon wraps up when Bella goes to school in Scotland, but picks up again in Scotland when Bella is at university and finally is able to reconnect with old friends to understand the dynamics between the adults much better.

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  • Juliet
  • 10-11-2021

Feeble, humourless plot, banal sentiments and dull characters - don’t bother

I didn’t expect an Alexander McCall Smith novel to be intellectual or even very stimulating- and I’ve always found elements of his writing too twee and/or old fogeyish- but he can also be very humorous and - at best - his social observation is sharp. I reached for this because I wanted some easy listening to break up more demanding books - but oh dear! This is truly dreadful. The characters are two dimensional and the plot - if it can be said to have one - is terribly weak. This seems to me an example of a
work by an author who has been so successful in the past that his publisher now allows him to publish anything with a vaguely similar title and market (elderly ladies?) in mind. Do better next time, AMS!
Narration ok but no narrator could make this book readable.

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  • The Elite Book Group
  • 04-12-2021

A beautiful storyline

David Rintoul brings Alexander McCall Smith's words to life. I loved being taken to the world of tea plantations to share the life of Bella as she grows up in Ceylon.

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  • LC
  • 05-09-2021

Classic Alexander McCall Smith story

The story drew me in from the start. Beautifully read by David Rintoul. Too short though. Although I love how all the ends were tied up. Highly recommend

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  • Sarah
  • 28-08-2021

Lovely gentle story

Loved this book. I wish it was longer , I wanted to know more about the characters, it just finished too quickly.

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  • pfn
  • 18-08-2021

Thoughtful, gentle yet a gripping story.

Can be read at different levels of awareness- like all Alexander’s stories.
For those like me with some connection to the days of Ceylon it is a delightful reminder.
The social and political commentary underpinning is like protein- fulfilling, long lasting and constructive.
The mystery line is carefully and gently woven. The pathos makes it deep rather than superficial. The live story is balm.
Superbly read- as always.

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