With his characteristic warmth, inventiveness and brilliant wit, Alexander McCall Smith gives us more of the gloriously entertaining comings and goings at 44 Scotland Street, the Edinburgh townhouse. Six-year-old prodigy Bertie perseveres in his heroic struggle for truth and balanced good sense against his insufferable mother and her crony, the psychotherapist Dr Fairbairn, going as far as to make a short-lived bid for freedom on a trip to Paris with the Edinburgh youth orchestra. Domenica sets off on an anthropological odyssey with pirates in the Malacca Straits, while Pat attracts several handsome admirers, including a toothsome suitor named Wolf. And Big Lou, eternal source of coffee and good advice to her friends, has love, heartbreak and erstwhile boyfriend Eddie's misdemeanours on her own mind.
©2006 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2011 Hachette Digital
This is a delightful, funny and thoughtful story. The reader does a wonderful job. The large and small events in the characters' lives give them and the reader an opportunity to reflect on the larger question of how to be a good human being.
As you can place spot all the places you know, however it, like Edinburgh, is old fashioned and misoginistic.Shame. Compared to Tales of the City, to which format-wise it's pretty similar, it lacks the humanity. Perhaps a good therapist is actually what's needed in order to inject some of that. Even Trainspotting has emotion. It's all very well describing places and situations placedropping all the way but they don't ring true because the characters are cardboard cut outs. You get the feeling Alexander McCall Smith needs to go and live in a commune and smoke some weed or something or got to South America to live with a tribe - or anyway find himself somehow! But then that's what an emotional diet of public school, rugby and whisky will do for you. An inability to connect with other people.
As my wife and I visit our granddaughter the tedium of the drive has been nullified by the adventures of the occupants of Scotland Street none more so than little Bertie. The fact that he has the pushiest mother it's possible to imagine who employs a child psychiatrist to delve into her sons innermost thoughts and who ignores the obvious and sees only what he wants to see make for pure entertainment. There are many other loveable characters from Big Lou who yearns for love to Lard O'Connor the Glaswegian gangster.
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