Monday, August 01, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith

A long time reader of this blog will have noticed that I enjoy books by Alexander McCall Smith. Fan that I am, I still sometimes get behind. I have just now finished listening to The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, the fifth of the 44 Scotland Street series books. As expected, I liked it very much. Six-year-old Bertie is still struggling with his overbearing mother who makes him take yoga, psychotherapy, and Italian lessons. He is still besieged by his annoying classmate Olive who is determined that he will be her boyfriend. The lass (this is a Scottish book) has even decided when they will marry and that she will dictate everything they do together. Bertie longs for escape and hope to find it in the Cub Scouts.

McCall Smith must have a lot of fun writing these books. He lovingly describes his city of Edinburgh and makes places along its streets the settings for much of the action. He gets to comment on many aspects of modern life that to him seem ridiculous - spending way too much for exotic wines, buying modern art, and being politically correct without really examining the reasons why. He even takes the liberty of working his friend, the real mystery writer Ian Rankin, into the plot. The author gives us much to think about while making us laugh.

The one hundred chapters of The Unbearable Lightness of Scones were originally run as a serial in The Scotsman newspaper. Each is short, and our attention is often diverted to other characters as McCall Smith weaves many stories together. The ending is a summation but not an end. The stories will all continue in later books, which I will undoubted read with joy.

McCall Smith, Alexander. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. Recorded Books, 2009. 12 discs, 14 hours. ISBN 9781440731792.

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