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44 Scotland Street [Paperback]

Alexander McCall Smith
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

11 Aug 2005 44 Scotland Street (Book 1)

The story revolves around the comings and goings at No. 44 Scotland Street, a fictitious building in a real street in Edinburgh. Immediately recognisable are the Edinburgh chartered surveyor, stalwart of the Conservative Association, who dreams of membership of Scotland's most exclusive golf club. We have the pushy Stockbridge mother, and her prodigiously talented five-year-old son, who is making good progress with the saxophone and with his Italian. Then there is Domenica Macdonald who is that type of Edinburgh lady who sees herself as a citizen of a broader intellectual world.

In McCall Smith's hands such characters retain charm and novelty, simultaneously arousing both mirth and empathy. 44 Scotland Street is vintage McCall Smith, tackling issues of trust and honesty, snobbery and hypocrisy, love and loss, but all with great lightness of touch. Clever, elegant and funny, this is a novel that provides huge entertainment but which is underpinned by the moral dilemmas of everyday life and the characters' struggles to resolve them.

Frequently Bought Together

44 Scotland Street + Espresso Tales: The Latest from 44 Scotland Street + Love Over Scotland, Vol.3  (44 Scotland Street series)
Price For All Three: 17.47

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (11 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349118973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349118970
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Following a distinguished career as a Professor of Medical Law, Alexander McCall Smith has turned to writing full-time. He is the author of over sixty books on a wide array of subjects, and his books have been translated into forty-two languages. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife.

Product Description


As charming as the bohemian street in which it's set. (SCOTTISH DAILY RECORD)

It is hard to think of a contemporary writer more genuinely engaging...[his] novels are also extremely funny: I find it impossible to think about them without smiling (Craig Brown, MAIL ON SUNDAY)

A treasure of a writer whose books deserve immediate devouring (Marcel Berlins, GUARDIAN)

a hilarious yet sharply insightful tale of middle-class Edinburgh ... a joyous, charming portrait of city life and human foibles (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Book Description

* The new novel from Alexander McCall Smith, full of his trademark humour and wisdom.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely fab book! 9 Mar 2005
By A Customer
This book is wonderful, and everything you would expect from Alexander McCall Smith at his top form. The characters are engaging and intriguing, and the style of the book keeps you turning the pages. The format is slightly unusual - as this book was originally a daily column in a Scottish newspaper. It means each chapter is v.brief but very contained. The stories are centred round the residents of a house in Edingburgh, and offer slices of life from a variety of characters who lives overlap.
Incidently, he notes at the beginning that the idea for this book was born at a party hosted by Amy Tan, and in conversation with Armistad Maupin - for me that was recommendation enough!
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise 25 April 2007
When this book came into my hands, I have to admit I didn't think I was going to like it. Given that my only knowledge of the author had to do with a series of novels revolving around an African detective agency for women (or thereabouts)- I guess I was expecting a flight of fancy through Edinburgh, with no real meat to it.

I couln't have been more wrong. This book is a wittily observed journey through the lives and thoughts of five or six of the best realised characters I've come across in modern fiction.

The narcissistic Bruce, fantastically pretentious Irene and perpetually befuddled Matthew are among my favourites, but I think there's definitely someone for everyone in this book.

I can foresee a potential negative for some people coming to this book expecting a great saga. Because of the way in which it was written (Smith submitted a chapter a day to The Scotsman newspaper for 110 days), the story flits around and just as a particular line gets some legs, you find yourself focused on something totally different.

For those who like books with a long, developed plot line and deeply winding subplots, this book may feel like dealing with a hyperactive child. However, if you like dry, well realised humour with a good pace and excellent characters, then this will make a great read.

I'm certainly interested enough to hunt down the two sequels. Well done, Mr Smith, you've converted another fan.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A treat that hs enlivened my tube journeys 16 Mar 2006
By purplepadma VINE VOICE
44 Scotland Street is little gem. It's a revival of the neglected genre of the serial novel, written - like Armistad Maupin's Tales of the City - to appear regularly in a newspaper. Yes, there are loose ends and some characters are little more than sketches, but given the virtual impossibility of producing a structurally polished novel when it is (as McCall Smith points out in his introduction) impossible to go back and make revisions, and the pressure is on to produce a daily episode for publication.
Insufferably pushy mothers, Conservative party stalwarts who would rather go ahead with just six participants than cancel a ball, narcissistic young men devoted to their hair gel ... the lighthearted sketchiness of these characters is what makes it permissable to laugh at them. The real heart of the book, however, lies in those characters who are wistfully chasing after what they cannot have - Big Lou, who has lived a life without love; Pat, with her misplaced infatuation; Matthew, who cannot seem to find his place in life; and poor 5-year-old Bertie (I wish I knew if he is ever to be free from having to speak Italian).
Read, enjoy, don't take it too seriously.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the City for Auld Reekie 14 Nov 2006
By Tealady2000 VINE VOICE
This book is the story of the occupants of 44 Scotland Street, a traditional Edinburgh New Town (the posh Georgian bit) residence divided into multiple flats. The inhabitants are all very well-to-do, exactly as would be expected in this neighbourhood, and are based on character types that are instantly recognisable by anyone who knows middle-class Edinburgh. The characters are generally unburdened by the depressing reality of real life, spending their time in art galleries, fashionable bars and the floatarium, and this creates a wonderful feeling of escapism for the reader. While most of us ponder mundane questions like 'What am I going to have for tea tonight?' and 'What's on TV?', the inhabitants of 44 Scotland Street are constantly engaged in philosophical thoughts (very much in the style of Mma Ramotswe in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency).

The goings-on are extremely funny. I loved the strand featuring prodigious pre-schooler Bertie and his monstrously misguided mother, Irene, who puts Bertie into therapy after he defaces his nursery school with Italian graffiti. Also the plot concerning the Conservative Party ball, attended by just six people (all frightful), and involving the stealing of pants to go under a kilt and misappropriation of raffle prizes, was hilarious.

This book really reminded me of Tales of the City (without the sex) and when I had finished it I read the preface and discovered that Tales of the City had indeed inspired the original serial in the Scotsman newspaper. An easy, funny and highly entertaining read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book 18 Aug 2006
I thought this was a really good book anyway, but having lived in Edinburgh for four years I loved it. It makes a difference when you can recognise every place name and every description. One of my old uni societies, Savoy Opera Group, even made its way into the book - although annoyingly as a negative side of one of the characters (its much better than that really). Aside from that, I found this book addictive. The characters may not be that deep, but they are fun and interesting. The pace of the novel is consistent, and once you start reading it you can't put it down. I think I finished it in two days. I've read the sequel, which isn't as good as the first one, but it resolves some of the problems, like character depth, and I can't wait to read the third.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Characters were annoying
Some of the characters were very unrealistic and irritating - particularly Pat! Also it just fizzled out - though by the end I did not really care what actually happened to... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Donna Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read!
This is a very funny and easy book to read. Anyone who knows Edinburgh will love it. I have read it as I am going to a talk by Alexander McCall Smith next month. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Liz U
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Read
Once I settled into the unusual format the book is written in I did find it enjoyable and found it ended too soon. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Mary Kidd
5.0 out of 5 stars Edinburgh
As an established fan I love A McC Smith's essentially kind and optimistic view of humanity and its frailty. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Beachcomber
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect..........
I adore Alexander McCall Smith's books. Witty, charming, gentle with just a hint of other worldliness about them. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Foodfingers
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I just loved the book. Clever, gentle and beautifully written Couldnt put it down and cant wait to read the next book.
Published 4 days ago by Phillipa Woolven
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Triumph
Since I had read all the other 'Scotland Street' series, I thought this would be boring - WRONG. McCall Smith is a master at making his writings easy reading yet thought provoking... Read more
Published 4 days ago by The Lass from Lauder
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This almost entirely failed to hold my attention. I'm aware it was written first as a magazine series in instalments and I think it suffers a little for that. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Spider
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 Scotland Street
wonderful stories about the inhabitants of 44 Scotland street, read the follow ups as well, if you are not familiar with Alexander McCall Smith now is your chance. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Mrs. S. M. BEACH
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read but not my favourite of his
This is my first Alexander McCall Smith set in Edinburgh. I found it an easy read but did not really engage with the characters, all of whom I found rather unlikeable, shallow and... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Wildpurl
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