In the tenth anniversary year of his beloved series, Alexander McCall Smith returns with more delightful adventures from the charming eccentrics who reside in Scotland Street.
As summer blooms in Edinburgh's gardens and Bertie Pollock's birthday appears on the horizon, all at 44 Scotland Street is not cake and sunshine.
Newlywed Angus Lordie has been booked by his bride into what he must not call the loony bin; Bruce's first encounter with hot wax brings more anguish than he bargained for; and Bertie's birthday dreams of scout camp and a penknife look set to be replaced by a game of Royal Weddings and a gender-neutral doll. But fate, an amorous Bedouin and the Dubai Tourist Authority conspire to transport Bertie's mother Irene to a warmer - if not a better - place, and once again in Scotland Street the triumph of human kindness over adversity gives cause for celebration.
a wonderful read, as always
Bertieâ€™s Guide to Life and Mothers is the ninth book in the popular 44 Scotland Street series by British author, Alexander McCall Smith. Now almost seven, Bertie Pollock feels like it is years since his last birthday (and readers of this series may well agree, considering The Importance of Being Seven was three books ago). Freedom, for Bertie, is represented by turning eighteen and heading for Glasgow, far from Irene, his domineering motherâ€™s control, far from his therapist, Italian lessons, Yoga for Tots, gender-neutral birthday presents and saxophone practice. The likeability of Irene and her husband Stuart appear to be progressing in inverse proportion, so it is no surprise that Stuart, Bertie and even baby Ulysses enthusiastically encourage Irene to accept a free trip to Dubai. A trip that does not go quite the way Irene expects. The irony of Ireneâ€™s ultimate situation is quite delightful. Domenica and Angus are settling into married life: Angus counts his blessings, even if Domenica has discovered behaviour that leads to the slightly alarming prospect of his seeing a psychiatrist. Their ex-neighbour, Antonia, on a visit from Tuscany with the saintly Sister Maria-Fiore dei Fiori di Montagna, (a mistress of the arresting aphorism), utters authoritatively on auras and haloes. The concept of Cyrilâ€™s vocabulary is examined and someone gets him drunk. Big Lou makes a major change in her life; Pat Macgregor experiences love at first sight, followed by dislike at first sight; and that well-known narcissist, Bruce experiences a waxing mishap in the pursuit of physical perfection. Matthew and Elspeth, feeling the stress of parenting triplets, engage an au pair for their au pair, a strident your Danish lass with solid opinions. In Ireneâ€™s absence, Bertie (definitely the star of this series) gets to eat pizza and manages to go on a longed-for scout camp, where he comforts a fearful friend and has a quite unexpected adventure. As usual, McCall Smithâ€™s characters share their succinct, insightful and often amusing observations on human behaviour: the rituals we perform to placate the gods; driver aggression; the challenges faced by Scottish nudists. The formula for the value of the pound at different ages is explained, reincarnation and the concept of Karma is explored, the proportions of beauty are mused upon, the obstacles to men having female friends are delved into and Ian Rankin makes a cameo appearance. Animal welfare, nasal hair, sympathetic architecture, Marmite, dessert and desert, original sin and the over-analysis of childrenâ€™s literature all feature. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, and the delightful text is complemented with charming illustrations by Iain McIntosh. As always, the novel ends with a gathering at Domenicaâ€™s (and Angusâ€™s): Angus marks the occasion of Bertieâ€™s seventh birthday with a stirring poem. Hilarious in parts, this instalment of the lives of our favourite Edinburgh residents is a wonderful read, as always.