44 Scotland Street: Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith

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44 Scotland Street: Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Back we go to 44 Scotland Street - this is a fun one, with plenty of humour and for fans of Bertie, he's in it a lot!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: July 2011
Publisher: Polygon
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846971884

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In this seventh outing to Scotland Street we're back with the cast of familiar characters. Matthew and Elspeth have had their triplets and must now face the trials of being new parents, with three times the trouble! Angus and Domenica are attempting to resolve the tricky issue of where they will live once they're married. And what of dear Bertie? Well, he's finally reached a point of having had enough of his mother so, with the help of his friend, he puts himself up for adoption on Ebay!

I really enjoyed this one, it felt like it had a lot of fun in it and there were several times when I snorted whilst reading. There's one episode in particular, involving Matthew and the three new baby boys in the middle of the night, that really made me laugh out loud and I still have a little chuckle to myself when I think of it. No, I'm not going to tell you what it was because that will spoil it! You'll just have to read it for yourself. I was also relieved to see that whilst Isabel Dalhousie's baby boy is a saint of a baby the triplets are much more like the sort of baby I'm familiar with!

I always like the Bertie story lines, so I was interested to see what was happening with him. He's off on a quest to get himself adopted this time, having decided he's had about as much as he can take from his mother. Again there's humour here; AMS captures the ways of young children beautifully and I especially enjoyed Bertie's interactions with Ranald Braveheart MacPherson, as well as the awful Olive. Long-time readers will be pleased to hear that as well as the bravery of Bertie in trying to change his situation there are also some changes in the life of his father, Stuart, too...

Angus and Domenica's trials left me feeling a little unsettled however. I felt that after a lot of suggestion that perhaps they weren't right for each other (with disagreements about where to live, lack of understanding and the appearance of an old lover) they then, very quickly, resolved their differences at the end to allow a dinner party happy ending. I have to say that I wasn't entirely convinced. There's also very little of Pat's storyline. She meets up, once again, with outrageous Bruce, but their story tails off in an unfinished fashion. I expect - well, I hope - that this was only due to a lack of space to fit it in and it will be picked up again in the next book.

Otherwise, there were plenty of the things that I love about AMS' writing, and none of the disappointment I felt recently when reading The Charming Quirks of Others. I love the familiarity of the characters, and the voyeuristic feeling you get in reading about their lives. It's a bit like popping in on neighbours and getting to see behind the scenes, the reality of what they're thinking and feeling. There are lots of interesting thoughts and ideas to ponder. One struck home for me in particular when Pat and her father are talking about how technological advancements have dehumanised people, how people will insult each other much more freely online, without really thinking about it. Dr Macgregor. Pat's father, says of driving when people are behind the wheel of a car their personality changes. They lose their temper with other drivers just like that - in an instant. They scowl at them, the shout, they insult them - all for some tiny mistake - turning left when indicating right, or something like that - or failing to let them overtake when they want. All that sort of thing. He paused. If you were walking along the pavement and somebody bumped into you by mistake, would you yell at him? Would you shake your fist and swear? Or would you accept his apology and carry on? I've made a mental note to stay calm when driving in future... I'm sure reading some more AMS stories will help!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Whilst 44 Scotland Street is set in Edinburgh, the Corduroy Mansions series is set in London and provides another intriguing cast of characters.

Buy 44 Scotland Street: Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy 44 Scotland Street: Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy 44 Scotland Street: Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy 44 Scotland Street: Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.com.


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