Saturday, February 10, 2018

Alexander McCall Smith - Love over Scotland

Publisher: Anchor Books
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Title: Love over Scotland

Alexander McCall Smith is among the top of my favorite writers. He is contemporary, successful and consistent. He is most famous for his series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.  I was in love with his Isabel Dalhousie series and was feeling a bit bereft when it ended.

I read 44 Scotland Street, the first book in this series quite a while ago. The title is the address of an apartment block in what is known as Edinburgh's New Town. The first book was primarily about some tenants of the apartment block. Pat is an art student who works part time at Matthew's art gallery. Irene and Stuart are a young couple in the same apartment block. They have a gifted young son called Bertie. Another resident, Domenica, is a social scientist.

There are short chapters that carry the story forward slowly, focusing on one or two characters at a time. So far I have read only two books in the series and they seem to chart the happenings a year at a time.

On the surface, the book seems to be full of small incidents, not very remarkable at times.  I soon realized that our life is like that.  There are a series of small events, things we would not even bother to recount to our friends but collectively they make up our lives.  Just when we are getting used to the small incidents, something big happens. Angus' dog Cyril is stolen, Bertie gets left behind in Paris by his orchestra mates

I was reminded of Sketches by Boz and also Pickwick Papers the latter especially when things get very funny. There were many times that I found myself laughing out loud.  The characters have their quirks which are well exploited by the author.  I found the exchanges between Irene and her son, Bertie very funny. Irene is very determined about what her son should do and rides roughshod over his feelings.  Most times Bertie just wants to be left alone which is something Irene never listens to.

Matthew was my favorite character in the first book and I was happy to see him more successful in this book.  Angus Lordie, Big Lou, Domenica, Pat, Matthew, Bertie, Stuart, Irene are described with such warmth that we cannot help feeling attached to them. 

I am glad that there are 12 books in the series, I can have a whale of a time reading through them.


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