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If only Pat Macgregor had an inkling of the embarrassment - romantic, professional, even aesthetic - that flowed from accepting narcissistic ex-boyfriend Bruce Anderson's invitation for coffee, she would never have said yes. And if only Matthew, her boss at the art gallery, hadn't wandered into his local bookshop and picked up a particular book at a particular time, he would never have knocked over his former English teacher or attracted the attentions of the police. Whether caused by small things such as a cup of coffee and a book, or major events such as Stuart's application for promotion and his wife Irene's decision to go off and study for a PhD in Aberdeen, change is coming to serial fiction's favourite street. But for three seven-year-old boys - Bertie Pollock, Ranald Braveheart Macpherson, and Big Lou's foster son Finlay - it also means a getting a glimpse of perfect happiness.
Alexander McCall Smith's delightfully witty, wise and sometimes surreal comedy spirals out to include tennis-playing Rwandan Forest People, researches into levitating Celtic saints, bogus headhunters in Papua New Guinea and primary school performances of Beckett. But its heart remains where it has always been - true to life, love and laughter in Edinburgh's New Town.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9781846973826
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Book Review: Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith - Reviewed by CloggieA (22 Nov 2017)
“’It’s good to see you.” Bruce inclined his head, as if to acknowledge an act of homage. Of course it was good to see him; he had been good to see for as long as he could remember. Even as a small boy, he had attracted admiration for his looks; the cherub had become an angel, had become a youth from a Giotto painting, had become a matinee idol…”
A Time Of Love And Tartan is the twelfth book in the popular 44 Scotland Street serial novel by Scottish author, Alexander McCall Smith, and in it, the lives of the residents of 44 Scotland Street and those of their friends are, once again, updated for the continuing enjoyment of series fans. So this time we learn that: Domenica wonders about her marriage to Angus; Cyril experiences a tiny pang of jealousy; and Pat Macgregor finds herself again in the sights of the narcissistic Bruce, but for the wrong reasons.
Big changes are afoot in the Pollock household: Stuart makes a life-changing decision on the spur of the moment; he worries more than he apparently needs to about Bertie’s reaction to Irene’s latest grand plan; Bertie, still seven, delights in receiving a compass; and his happiness at attending a Scotland/New Zealand Rugby Match, in a kilt, with his father, and his best friend, Ranald Braveheart Macpherson, knows no bounds.
Matthew does something silly in a bookshop, is embarrassed and compounds the error with something still sillier, attracting the attention of the police; Elspeth, au-pairless, is at her wits end with exhaustion until the Duke of Johannesburg comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, Big Lou is finding foster-parenthood gratifying.
As always, McCall Smith gives his characters plenty of wise words as he lets them wonder about or discuss a wide range of topics including: the various meanings of the word “Aye”; the modern trends in architecture; sexism and political correctness in job interviews; the proliferation of hate; and the disappearance of forest habitats of remote tribes.
There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and charming little observations like: “…he was on the committee of the Scottish Artists’ Benevolent Association, the body that distributed largesse (smallesse, as Angus called it, in view of the limited nature of the fund) to struggling artists”.
The potential for young Bertie’s ongoing happiness expands exponentially with Irene’s Aberdeen plans, although a fan of the series might worry about the absence of the character we all love to despise. McCall Smith’s work is always a joy to read, and fans will hope for many more instalments of this delightful series.
Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. After the publication of his highly successful No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty-five million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers throughout the world. These include the 44 Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series and the Corduroy Mansions novels.
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