The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street) by Alexander McCall Smith

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The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street) by Alexander McCall Smith

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: In this, the fifth instalment of the 44 Scotland Street novels, Matthew and Elspeth are newly married and getting to know each other, whilst cad-about-town Angus Lordie is having premonitions of disaster. The perennially self-interested Bruce is forced to confront his flaws, Irene Pollock discovers her son Bertie covets ambitions she would rather he didn't and a large Glaswegian gangster arrives bearing gifts….. confused? You will be.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Abacus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349121147

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Alexander McCall Smith is of course best known for his The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, which, whilst a kind of serial-novel, are a joy to read whether you have read none or all of them before. What I must say to you, without further ado, is that you had better have read instalments one to four of the 44 Scotland Street novels prior to setting sail with The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, or the characters, with their little oddities and meanderings and the continuance of their lives within this instalment, will mean absolutely nothing to you whatsoever and therefore you should stop reading this review around about here.

However, if you are one of the 'McCall Smith Faithful' then along with your fellow – and I might add, legion – loyal fans, you have no doubt already bought the hardback which was out last year and completely loved the story and will not need to read any further, either!

I am not sure how we have found ourselves leaping from the final resting point in Volume 4 to where we pick up the much-loved cast in Volume 5. Whilst Matthew and Elspeth have actually found the gumption from within their mimsy, wavering selves to get married, Bertie appears to be on hold – he remains just six years old! And though Bruce appears to be aging and running the gamut of emotions on the subject, Angus Lordie is quite unable to drop his (or the author's?) continuing rant about the Turner Prize, its apparent lack of artistry and his own apparent lack of winning it. Now, since the prior 44 Scotland Street offerings gave us endless ideas to muse upon, I am disappointed to note that it seems The Unbearable Lightness Of Scones has something missing, though quite what it is remains a mystery to me. See, I told you that you would be confused!

The delightful little bitesize chapters were completely self-contained, which made it a brilliant pick-up-and-put-down kind of book, but the subjects within leapt about so jarringly, I found myself wondering what was going on for the first two paragraphs of each chapter. From a personal standpoint, I don't find that to be an endearing quality in a novel, at all. I can't give you a clearer view of what was going on… I don't have one!

In reading this review back, I can see that I appear a little disjointed myself, so indulge me whilst I attempt to summarise: The Unbearable Lightness Of Scones is a great next-in-the-series read provided you are a fan; if you aren't actually devout and are a slightly less fevered reader of McCall Smith's work (and honestly, I doubt you would be reading this anyway if you loved this series – these books seem to be devoured, fanatically, as soon as they appear in print), I would suggest you might like to read this book just to keep up with the tale and wait for instalment number six. And since I feel you are unlikely to be enthralled by its content, I would suggest you borrow it from your friend or the local library.

Fans of McCall Smith will almost certainly have read theThe No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, but La's Orchestra Saves the World is slightly less well-known and bears reading. For a similar series (which does work as a stand-alone) in an American setting we can recommend Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber. If you're looking at this review because of your enjoyment of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels then we think you might also enjoy A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson.

Buy The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.com.


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