29 Jun 2016



BACK COVER BLURB: Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street occupies a busy, bohemian corner of Edinburgh's New Town, where the old haute bourgeoisie finds itself having to run shoulders with students, poets and portraitists. And number 44 has more than its fair share of the street's eccentrics and failures.

May contain what some consider spoiler. Simply scroll over should you wish to read the rest of the synopsis. TT

When Pat - on her second gap year and a source of some worry to her parents - is accepted as a new tenant at number 44, she isn't quite sure how long she'll last. Her flatmate Bruce, a rugby-playing chartered surveyor, is impossibly narcissistic, carelessly philandering and infuriatingly handsome. Downstairs lives the gloriously pretentious Irene, whose precocious five-year-old is in therapy after setting fire to his father's copy of the Guardian. And then there is the shrewd, intellectual Domenica MacDonald, mysteriously employed but a sharp-eyed observer of the house's activities in her spare time ...

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1. STUFF HAPPENS}: Pat stood before the door at the bottom of the stair, reading the names underneath the buttons.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 42}: For Bertie, an early arrival was important if he was to secure the train set before the other boys, with lesser moral entitlements, claimed it; for Irene, an early arrival meant that she could speak to the supervisor, Miss Christabel Macfadzean, before she became too distracted by children and parents to give her any attention.

SOURCE: A charity shop buy by Mr T.

MY THOUGHTS: Hurrah, at last! Determined to find a novel by this highly regarded author that I actually enjoyed, I had just about gave up all hope when I came across this little gem.

Like the work of Dickens whose literary success began as a serial publication so 44 Scotland Street was submitted, a chapter a day, in The Scotsman newspaper.

With its short and somewhat contained chapters (a necessity given it being serialised) this was a book that was easy enough to pick up and put down EXCEPT once started I actually found it rather difficult to put aside.

A novel in which arguably nothing much actually happens and when it does its all rather mundane and, well, 'middle class'. But don't let that put you off, the beauty of this book lies in its humour and its oh so wonderfully delicious characters ... I'd never have dreamt I'd fall hook, line and sinker, for a five year old and especially not one as precocious as Bertie.

Read for The What's In A Name? 2016 challenge: 'A book with a country in the title' category.


Brandi Kosiner said...

Great to hear when it's hard to put a book down!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I have never read any of the author's work and I don't know why, other than I might have been influenced by both customers and colleagues alike, who are unanimous in their view that you either love his writing style, or hate it.

I must admit that even though I love good descriptive writing and well developed and explained characters, I might struggle with such a lengthy series, when it sounds as though you can't afford to miss an episode. With the book that is due out in the Autumn, that will make 11 in total and there is already a reference to the next installment, within the synopsis of 'The Bertie Project'!

I am pleased that you have found a series that you think you can get stuck into, the only positive I can see, is that the stories are all fairly short in length and I really like the idea of mini chapters, making the books easy to dip in and out of :)


Karen said...

I'm glad you found something you could enjoy by the author. Sometimes I have to give them a few tries before I find what woks.

Karen @For What It's Worth

Kelly said...

Well now you have me thinking I need to take on this series, as well. I'm one who loves the Botswana stories and I've also read the first in another of his series (can't recall the title right off), which I liked, but not as much as the Mma Ramotswe books. I've also enjoyed his stand alones that I've read.

So glad you found one you liked!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I do like good character books so this one might be right for me. Nice review!

Suko said...

Tracy, I'm glad you enjoyed this book! I adore the Ladies detective books. This sounds very good as well, and, I have visited Edinburgh!

Sherry Ellis said...

So happy you found a good one. I like the title of the first chapter: Stuff Happens.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Glad you enjoyed this one- I do love great characters and fun humor!! :)

Brian Joseph said...

This sounds very good.

I am beginning to appreciate more and more books that do not have a lot of plot but instead rely more on writing style and characters.

It is interesting that this was originally published in installments. I think that is not as common as it once was.

kimbacaffeinate said...

This sounds delightful, I love the setting!

Literary Feline said...

I've read some of this authors other books, but not any from this series. I know it is quite popular though. I am glad you enjoyed it!

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

So glad to hear that you enjoyed this one! Yeah! Glad you didn't give up on the author and found something that worked for you. :)

Melliane said...

It's always so nice when you find a book like that! I didn't know about it but I confess that I'm curious. thanks

Nikki-ann said...

I've yet to read an Alexander McCall Smith book, but having read your review, I think I'm going to have to find one! Thanks for sharing this with us :)