BERTIE PLAYS THE BLUES by Alexander McCall Smith


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Eighty more bite-sized chapters bring curious readers up to date on the latest doings at 44 Scotland Street and its Edinburgh environs (The Importance of Being Seven, 2012, etc.).

The headline event, painter Angus Lordie’s upcoming wedding to Domenica Macdonald, is threatened on two fronts. First, Domenica wants Angus to give up his place, whose high ceilings make it perfect for his work, and move into 44 Scotland Street, where they can have ample horizontal room if they purchase the adjoining flat, which Domenica’s friend Antonia Collie, who plans to take vows as a lay sister in Italy, wants to sell. Then, more dangerously, that same flat throws Domenica together with her old flame Magnus Campbell, and sparks fly between them. More prosaically, Domenica’s neighbors Matthew and Elspeth Harmony, exhausted by caring for their new triplets, hire Matthew’s ex-girlfriend Pat Macgregor to help at the Something Special Gallery and Anna, a Danish au pair, to help with little Rognvald, Tobermory and Fergus. Their friend Big Lou’s online date turns out to be an Elvis impersonator. Overbearing Irene Pollock continues to make life miserable for her husband, Stuart, who affronts her by joining a Masonic lodge, and their son Bertie, the 6-year-old prodigy who’s been force-fed yoga, Italian, psychotherapy and saxophone lessons. Bertie’s friend Ranald Braveheart Macpherson persuades Bertie to put himself up for adoption on eBay and, when that falls through, to run away from home to an adoption agency in Glasgow, an adventure that produces perhaps the single most promising development since the series began six volumes ago.

Even more lightweight and inconsequential than previous installments in its abrupt inflation and deflation of domestic dilemmas. Yet, the neighborhood’s legion of fans will devour each chapter and be sorry when they’ve turned the last page.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-94849-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2013


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