The Importance of Being Seven

The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street, #6)The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a joyful start to a new year! I love the 44 Scotland Street series, and this installment brings some sweet rewards to some of my favorite long-suffering characters. To say any more would probably introduce spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that!

Book Description:
The great city of Edinburgh is renowned for its impeccable restraint, so how, then, did the extended family of 44 Scotland Street come to be trembling on the brink of reckless self-indulgence? After seven years and five books, Bertie is—finally!—about to turn seven. But one afternoon he mislays his meddling mother Irene, and learns a valuable lesson: wish-fulfillment can be a dangerous business. Angus and Domenica contemplate whether to give in to romance on holiday in Italy, and even usually down-to-earth Big Lou is overheard discussing cosmetic surgery. Funny, warm, and heartfelt as ever, The Importance of Being Seven offers fresh and wise insights into philosophy and fraternity among Edinburgh’s most lovable residents.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Scones

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street, #5)The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alexander McCall-Smith has created a host of wonderful characters. I continue to care about them and their adventures, even after 5 books in this series. I listened to the audio version, deftly narrated by Robert Ian Mackenzie. Of course, he could read the phone book and it would be entertaining!

Book description from Amazon:
The witty and utterly delightful new novel in the national bestselling 44 Scotland Street series.

Featuring all the quirky characters we have come to know and love, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, finds Bertie, the precocious six-year-old, still troubled by his rather overbearing mother, Irene, but seeking his escape in the Cub Scouts. Matthew is rising to the challenge of married life with newfound strength and resolve, while Domenica epitomizes the loneliness of the long-distance intellectual. Cyril, the gold-toothed star of the whole show, succumbs to the kind of romantic temptation that no dog can resist and creates a small problem, or rather six of them, for his friend and owner Angus Lordie.

With his customary deftness, Alexander McCall Smith once again brings us an absorbing and entertaining tale of some of Scotland’s most quirky and beloved characters–all set in the beautiful, stoic city of Edinburgh.

Bertie, Interrupted

I’ve been listening in the car lately to The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith. Last night I was headed into the Twin Cities (35 miles) so I reached over to the seat beside me to plug in my portable CD player. I was quite shocked to realize it wasn’t there! I stopped the car and proceeded to search front and back seats and even underneath them. No CD player. The CD case was there (with all but one CD), but no player.

Then I recalled a day last week at the library. A couple of teenaged boys came in and asked if we had a coat hanger. They said the keys were locked in their car. I suggested they ask for help next door with the sheriff. A few minutes later a patron came up to tell me that some boys were trying to get into a car with a stick through the window. I blithely said “Oh yes. They were just in here. They locked their keys in the car.” I should have gone to see exactly what they were doing.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! I am such an honest and naive person, it didn’t even occur to me that it could be anything other than what they told me. And I had left the CD player unplugged in the front seat (with cords attached), and left the windows cracked open (less than an inch) because of the heat (my car has no air conditioning.) When I left that evening, I noticed the visor screen was bent down on the passenger side. And it seemed like the window was open a lot more than I had left it. But it is only in retrospect that I thought anything of it. Yes, I’m an idiot.

I don’t mind the loss of the old CD player so much. In fact, I went and bought a new one today. It wasn’t expensive. But I DO mind the loss of the CD! It was borrowed from the library, and I suppose I’ll have to pay for it. In the meantime, do I continue to listen to the book from the remaining CDs, or do I look for another copy of it? Or will the CD get returned to the library? It’s possible, but I’m not holding my breath.

One way or another, I will finish listening to the book. Meanwhile, here is a description of the first two books in the series.
44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #1) 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Listened to on tape (unabridged), Sept. 2006.

Review from AudioFile

Alexander McCall Smith modeled this book on the evergreen hit TALES OF THE CITY, by Armistead Maupin, which were published serially in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. Smith’s appeared in an Edinburgh daily; the title refers to an address in Edinburgh where several of the main characters live. It’s a great device, imposing specific challenges to the storyteller, working in little chunks of uniform length, all with intriguing endings. The only thing that could be more fun than reading each installment in the paper is hearing Robert Ian MacKenzie’s thoroughly droll and versatile performance. You won’t soon forget the Conservative Party’s fundraising ball, with only six in attendance, one of whom forgot to wear underpants under his kilt. MacKenzie’s touch is flawless. B.G. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine– Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

Espresso Tales (44 Scotland Street, #2) Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listened to on tape (unabridged), Nov. 2007.
Book Description (from Amazon.com)
Alexander McCall Smith’s many fans will be pleased with this latest installment in the bestselling 44 Scotland Street series.

Back are all our favorite denizens of a Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh. Bertie the immensely talented six year old is now enrolled in kindergarten, and much to his dismay, has been clad in pink overalls for his first day of class. Bruce has lost his job as a surveyor, and between admiring glances in the mirror, is contemplating becoming a wine merchant. Pat is embarking on a new life at Edinburgh University and perhaps on a new relationship, courtesy of Domenica, her witty and worldly-wise neighbor. McCall Smith has much in store for them as the brief spell of glorious summer sunshine gives way to fall a season cursed with more traditionally Scottish weather.

Full of McCall Smith’s gentle humor and sympathy for his characters, Espresso Tales is also an affectionate portrait of a city and its people who, in the author’s own words, “make it one of the most vibrant and interesting places in the world.”