The Unbearable Lightness of Scones

scones_bgThe Unbearable Lightness of Scones is the last title of the 44 Scotland Street series. The name of the series is the title of the first of five episodic novels by Alexander MacCall Smith, which were first published by The Scotsman newspaper as a 800 word daily serial since 2004.

Alexander McCall Smith was a Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh for several years, and he served on national and international bioethics bodies. Being the author of over sixty books on a wide array of subjects, in 1999 he achieved global recognition for his award-winning No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, and thereafter devoted his full time to the writing of fiction, including the 44 Scotland Street and the Von Igelfeld series. Since then, his books have been translated into forty-two languages. Nowadays he lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth, a doctor.

In this new installment, McCall Smith recycles his familiar cast, while introducing some new faces: lovable and charming Bertie keeps growing and bearing with his “oppressive” mother Irene, while the familiar cast of favorites like Big Lou, Domenica, Angus Lordie and his dog Cyril or Mathew, among others, continue the pursuit of a little happiness in the city of Edinburgh.

scones_bg3For a foreign reader like me, the customary charm of the city and the characters (regarding I didn’t know them, since I hadn’t read any of the series before) have provided me with an informative, descriptive and charming idea about Edinburgh mixed with some fantasy, which is a pretty attractive invitation to be transported to the world created by the author. I’ve read that some critics find this mix too whimsy. Personally, it didn’t bother me except for the Jacobitism issue, and some of the conversations between Bertie and his friends which I found sometimes difficult to conceive as six-year old children. But even then, neither of both took me out of the story. The truth is that it’s really easy and funny to follow the live and daily adventures of these characters, which you become to love without even noticing, and that is what gets you to think that what you are easily reading must have been quite harder to write.

I’ll certainly read more of the 44 Scotland Street series from now on, and I certainly recommend you to get to know these both ordinary and extra-ordinary characters that show us with their daily adventures and misfortunes the complexity of human relationships in this magic Edinburgh created by MacCall.

Laia Vilaseca.

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