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Book Review: 44 Scotland Street

June 9, 2010

I first discovered Alexander McCall Smith with his novel Corduroy Mansions, serialized on The Telegraph web site. You may be familiar with his most famous work, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (of which I have recently purchased the first novel and look forward to starting soon). 44 Scotland Street is another serial novel, and, after a bit of adjustment, I rather like the genre. AMS’s serial novels are episodic and character-driven. They take their time, like a meandering, scenic drive: more about the journey than the destination. That is not to say they are without plot or action! They are full of gentle, understated humor with little tidbits of commentary on life.

Fair warning: series such as these do not wrap up loose ends at the end of each novel. The threads weave throughout the entire series as a whole.

44 Scotland Street is about the lives of the residents at said building, located in Edinburgh’s New Town, and the lives of the people they touch. The novel focuses on Pat, a college student on her second gap year and working in a small art gallery. Her character really grew on me as the story progressed. I especially like the friendships developing in the group of Pat, Matthew, Domenica, and Angus Lordie.

And then there’s Bertie: the 6-year-old prodigy who plays the saxophone, speaks Italian, and loves trains. Bertie is a hoot and a half. I can’t wait to watch him grow up as he attempts to free himself from the dreadful auspices of his overbearing mother, Irene.

I picked up the audiobook from the library and found it to be the perfect accompaniment while washing the dishes and doing other household chores. I’m looking forward to #2 in the series, Espresso Tales.

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