Monday, June 28, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, Alexander McCall Smith's fifth book in his 44 Scotland Street series, once again allows readers to visit his beloved Edinburgh filled with the fictional denizons of an apartment building and their neighbors and friends. Bertie, the six year old boy whose pushy, politically-correct mother fills his days with yoga, Italian and saxophone lessons and appointments with a child psychiatrist continues to make Bertie's life miserable, but there are signs that Bertie's father has begun to take a stand on his son's behalf. Angus the portrait painter and his gold-toothed dog Cyril discover a long-missing Raeburn portrait of Bobbie Burns when Lard O'Connor, the Glasgow gangster visits Edinburgh. Gentle digs about the rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow are funny, but not mean. Lard's accent is almost impenetrable as written and recalls Bertie's remark in another book upon hearing a Glasgow cab driver speak that he thought he could master the Glaswegian language because it seemed almost as easy as Italian. Big Lou and her Jacobite boyfriend return with news of the Pretender to the Throne who briefly moves in with them before going on the lam, last seen heading for remote Scottish islands a la Bonnie Prince Charlie. And so it goes, all the colorful characters, with one exception, return which will delight fans of the series. McCall Smith's tongue-in-cheek style, eye for people's common quirks and love for his city and country shine through.
Related links:
Amazon U.K. reviews
Alexander McCall Smith's GoodReads page with interview links
List of the author's books in order, by series on Fantastic Fiction

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