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44 Scotland Street Hardcover – 21 Feb 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited; First Edition, First Impression edition (21 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904598161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904598169
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful 'No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series, which has sold over twenty 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 through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.

In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' - a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.

Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

Product Description

Review

' ... The characters are splendid: Mr JLB Matekoni, Mma Makutsi, the insubordinate apprentices at the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors garage and the fearsome Mme Potakwani are all beautifully rendered, becoming more likeable with every volume... There is nothing fancy about these novels, but they are quite unike anything I've read before. They're refreshing, funny and life-affirming.' - Nick Smith, Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society '... Mma Ramotswe is part priest, part marriage guidance counsellor. She checks out suitors, finds stolen property and traces missing relatives. Above all, she listens, talks common sense and gives advice, not all of which is heeded. - Alan Taylor, Sunday Herald 'infinitely touching, beautiful novels, each of which is a miracle of gentle wit and perception'. James Naughtie 'latter-day morality tales filled with endearingly idiosyncratic characters.' - The Resident 'I highly recommend them if you like to be happy.' Flea, Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'McCall is precise and laidback, perfectly in tune with the African pace and rhythm that he evokes' The Herald 'a treasure of a writer whose books deserve immediate devouring' Marcel Berlins, the Guardian 'There are books which are funny because they pour torrents of jokes at the reader, or by organising slapstick scenes of chaos. But there are others that are more subtly humorous, and they make you laugh just by prodding you gently ... McCall Smith's feeling for pace in prose, his clarity and his affection for his characters all spring out... The books are funny because they track the meandering of ordinary lives, albeit in a gently exotic location, and bring us endlessly engaging characters. McCall Smith became our winner because he never gives the impression of straining for effect. He loves the landscape and the people of his chosen setting, Botswana, and he wants them to walk across the pages as their true selves. As as we know, that is when we are all at our funniest. - James Naughtie, judge of the SAGA Award for Wit

Book Description

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Mar. 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Thorbes on 25 April 2007
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By purplepadma VINE VOICE on 16 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ms. S. C. Fletcher on 18 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tealady2000 VINE VOICE on 14 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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