Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search


Get 3 months of Audible for 99p. First month 99p, months 2 and 3 free. £7.99/month thereafter with a free book of any length each month. They're yours to keep even if you don't continue after the trial. Click on the logo for details!

Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith

AMS Bertie.jpg
Buy Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith at or

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Warm, deftly written and wonderfully entertaining. Grab your glass of wine, run a bath, and sit back and enjoy!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: August 2013
Publisher: Polygon
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846972539

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram

It pained me in the previous Scotland Street novel that I had to knock off half a star from my review. You'll be pleased to hear, therefore, that we're back up to a full five stars with the newest AMS novel squeezing its way onto my bulging bookshelves. As the title suggests, there is plenty of Bertie in this book which is endlessly pleasing to me since he is my favourite by far. I'm certain that if you're reading this review you already have some prior experience of McCall Smith's writing, and so hopefully you'll know that you really should begin at the beginning of each of his series of novels to get the full, beautiful experience of his writing. I shall continue this assuming that you all know the names of all the characters I'm talking about already!

So. Bertie. Yes, dear Bertie finally turns seven in this book! And about time too! His birthday gifts from his parents are perhaps not everything he wished for, nor even what his dad might have wanted to get him, but Bertie's mother, Irene, has very definite ideas about what makes a good birthday present for a little boy. Fortunately for my blood pressure the odious Irene is soon whisked away to another country after winning a newspaper competition, and her stay there might be rather longer than she'd intended...

There are some appearances by Cyril, and Angus and Domenica too which I found pleasing. They have the pleasure of two house guests, although pleasure is perhaps not the word they would use. Pat is back this time, with more of a part to play. I enjoyed her parts of the story and I'm hoping we continue to see what happens with her, and her father, in the next book. I found Matthew and Elspeth's story quite funny this time although I have to admit that just occasionally as I'm reading I find myself wondering if they're quite right for each other, and I'm not entirely sure that their marriage will survive the ravages of having triplet boys to bring up. Perhaps the fact that they get their au pair an au pair this time around will help to relieve some of the pressures they all face in bringing up three little boys!

There is some talk of spontaneous human combustion, which is interesting, as well as the question of Bertie's birthday party, who will be invited and what games will be played. I feel glad that Bertie sees some of his dreams fulfilled during this novel, thanks in part to his mother's absence. I do like the parts when Bertie is chatting with his friends. Olive is so dreadful, and yet utterly convincing as a busy-body seven year old girl! She does make me laugh!

Big Lou sees some big life changes in this story, and it will be interesting to see how things play out for her in the future. Bruce is hardly in the story at all, which is a shame, but his brief appearance is at least a funny one.

There are all the things you want from an AMS story - humour and love, thoughtfulness and gentle ponderings about interesting subjects. I devoured it through a few lunchtime readings and a final, delightful long bath. I like how short the chapters are in the Scotland Street novels as it makes them very easy to pick up and put down, and I find I can squeeze a chapter in whilst my son's bath is running, or read another quickly whilst my daughter brushes her teeth before school. As always, these stories are wonderfully comforting and ultimately uplifting - definitely recommended!"

Have you lost track of what order you need to read the Scotland Street stories in? Check out The Bookbag's handy list here: Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street Series in Chronological Order

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.

Cary Perez said:

I loved your review and am in total agreement with your observation about Matthew and Elspeth marriage. I too wonder if its a good match. This time, it sounds like Pat finally met a good match. Irene's trip to Dubais was hilarious; and, her time spent in a harem re socializing the sheik's wives is so true to her character. I'm sure they will so tire of her as one does with a rabid personality like hers.

Thank you!

Cary Perez Coral Gables, Florida