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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They would never criticize someone else's underwear no matter the level of provocation
Such is the level of civility in Edinburgh reminds Alexander McCall Smith in the latest hilarious episode of the 44 Scotland Street series. The usual wonderful characters are all here as a few months have progressed since the previous installment, "The Importance of Being Seven". Matthew and Elspeth are now the parents of triplets and quickly learning how the joy and...
Published on 20 Sept. 2011 by Blue in Washington

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but...
I've just read 'The Importance of Being Seven' and 'Bertie Plays The Blues' back to back and, for the most part, thoroughly enjoyed my trip back to Scotland Street and its environs (plus Italy). But whereas I had no hesitation in awarding the previous book 5 stars, this one just didn't quite do it for me.

Let me first deal with the positives - of which there...
Published on 29 Aug. 2012 by J. R. Caley


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They would never criticize someone else's underwear no matter the level of provocation, 20 Sept. 2011
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
Such is the level of civility in Edinburgh reminds Alexander McCall Smith in the latest hilarious episode of the 44 Scotland Street series. The usual wonderful characters are all here as a few months have progressed since the previous installment, "The Importance of Being Seven". Matthew and Elspeth are now the parents of triplets and quickly learning how the joy and wonderment of that parenthood is balanced out by the stress of the responsibility and the almost total lack of sleep, These are good people trying to keep up with a sharp turn in their lives, and help arrives in the form of Danish pastry.

Newly engaged boomers, Domenica and Angus, are struggling with the practical aspects of planning a merger of households; a discussion complicated by the arrival of an old first love. The Pollock family is also evolving in its own way with husband Stuart asserting more independence on his own behalf and that of his prodigy son, Bertie. Bertie, a paragon of brightness and common sense, continues to be baffled and frustrated by the main female in his life--mother Irene, but also by the clique of little girls at his school led by the ever-conniving and devious Olive. Irene Pollock, poster person for overbearing, yuppie maternity, gets a major wakeup call in ""Bertie Plays..." when her son takes a shocking step toward repudiation of her methodologies with the help of eBay.

Supporting characters Big Lou, Pat, Bruce and, above all the rest, Cyril the gold-toothed dog, all have important roles to play in this story, largely as participants in the conversations about the daily dilemmas of life that are the main point of the series and, the reader surmises, the author's larger purpose for writing. As in all of these books, there is a sweet satire that can be both gentle and provocative. McCall Smith is an author who openly admires sincerity and realness in people above all else. Conversely he doesn't have much time or toleration for phonies and posers. In "Bertie Plays.." that yin/yang outlook leads to serious partner-assessment and partner-switching that rivals what you would see at a Kansas hoedown. Most of this is to the good, as good people generally wind up with other good people.

Some readers may experience some hackle rising as the author comes out rather nakedly in this book as unreservedly preferring dogs to cats. ("Dogs are absolutely sincere--never hiding their true feelings. Cats are dreadfully insincere. Psychopaths--everyone of them".) Even this is said with good humor and honors the intrepid Cyril, companion to Angus Lordie. Cyril is once again given some of the best monologues in the book. It's funny and original.

I will admit that I am woefully hooked on this series and rarely find a single word to complain about as the episodes are published. But this particular book is really a wonderful read full of humor, wisdom and great conversations about things that we all care about everyday of our lives. Highly recommended (obviously).
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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem of a book by McCall Smith!, 11 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
If you are already a fan of the 44 Scotland Street series then this latest instalment will not disappoint. I now have all of Alexander McCall Smith's books and devour them immediately! I often find myself laughing out loud, which can be somewhat of an embarrassment on the train! His stories are always gentle, full of charm, snippets of wisdom and all importantly a good dose of wit and humour. In this volume we pick up with the latest developments in the lives of Bertie & co. Antonia's life takes a new direction after her attack of Stendhal syndrome, Matthew and Elspeth get to grips with family life, Angus and Domenica grapple with their new dometic arrangements and Pat and Lou are both off in search of love! Finally Bertie seems to be making a break through in his long suffering trials with his awful domineering mother! Oh and a good bit of comeuppance for Bruce is thrown in too! The only problem I have with these books is that they make me greedy for more, so I must be patient and wait for the AMS next book to come out! I can't thank Alexander McCall Smith enough for writing such wonderful books, I may need a new book case shortly however...
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great - now I must wait for the audiobook!, 19 Aug. 2011
By 
Jill Besterman (Jersey, Channel Islands United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
The Scotland Street stories are by far my favourite McCall Smith books. I must be Bertie's no 1 fan (or certainly in the top 10). My problem is that I really enjoy the audiobook versions, read by the fantastic David Rintoul. They are perfect for short shopping trips in the car, the stories being told in relatively short segments. Just be careful that you don't get stopped at traffic lights as you giggle helplessly! Being born and brought up in Edinburgh definitely helps but is NOT essential. I look forward hopefully to the next episode about Bertie, Big Lou, Angus and Domenica, Matthew and Elspeth, Pat and the awful Bruce ( and hope that Bertie's father gets rewarded for putting up with his dreadful wife!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., 29 Aug. 2012
By 
J. R. Caley (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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I've just read 'The Importance of Being Seven' and 'Bertie Plays The Blues' back to back and, for the most part, thoroughly enjoyed my trip back to Scotland Street and its environs (plus Italy). But whereas I had no hesitation in awarding the previous book 5 stars, this one just didn't quite do it for me.

Let me first deal with the positives - of which there are many. As with the rest of the series, we dive straight into the ongoing story with no unnecessary preamble. Around six months have passed, and - without giving away too much of the plot(s) - births are imminent, wedding plans are in hand, and Bertie is still yearning to escape the clutches of his mother. The character development, the plots, the humour and the philosophical asides are all what we have come to expect from a master story-teller.

So why the dissatisfaction? One word: continuity. Now I must confess that I am one of those annoying people who, when watching a tv show, will always spot when a character is seen getting into a blue car, but then climbing out of a red car. Yes, these things happen and some suspension of disbelief is always required when watching or reading fiction. Artistic licence and all that. But consistency of plot and back-story is always crucial to any soap opera, literary saga, or whatever. So it is a bit disconcerting to find that Bertie, after spending all the last book wishing he was 7, still appears to be 6. Perhaps we can accept this as part of the author's charm and whimsy, but later we have Bertie reminiscing on his adventures and travels, which include Glasgow but not Paris! How could Bertie forget that episode? Or has AMS forgotten it?

Skip this paragraph if you wish to avoid spoilers. The above appears halfway through the book. By then we have already had the chapter when Matthew decides to re-employ Pat at the gallery. Apparently he hasn't seen her for ages, but finds her phone number somewhere. Er... isn't she working there already, or did we just imagine her appearance in the last book? At the birth of the triplets, there is a philosophical discussion regarding the importance of the order in which they were born and a reference to the boys being told later in life which is (a) not appropriate for a contemporary narrative and (b) rendered totally irrelevant by the subsequent mix up of the babies! Other questions include why Pat is sitting in the pub waiting for Bruce at lunchtime, when their date is for dinner that evening? When did the gate appear at the bottom of the garden, when Matthew was previously peering through the hedge? How could Bertie and his mate bunk off school the day after their cub-scout meeting when the cubs meet on Friday night? Yes, these are all minor quibbles, but as they mounted up my irritation increased. It also seemed as if the end of the book came to quickly and caught the author by surprise such that all the stories had to be resolved too rapidly, particularly the Angus and Domenica situation and the very disappointing and frankly unrealistic way in which Matthew gave in to creepy Bruce at the end.

No more spoilers, I promise. Overall, the book is essential reading. Even if I had known in advance of the elements I found disappointing, I would still have had to buy the book simply to find out what happened next. Do we know if this volume is the last in the series? It certainly has that feel about it, not just because of the resolution of the story lines, but also because of the sense that perhaps AMS is getting tired of it, hence some of the sloppiness and shortcuts. Buy it anyway!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bertie's Adventure, 27 Aug. 2011
By 
E. Cole (Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
I have read all of Alexander McCall Smith's books and eagerly ordered this one to be sent to me in Texas. I was fortunate to have a vacation to Edinburgh in June and enjoyed finding the 44 Scotland Street spots from the book.

This book was one of my very favorite in the series. Bertie and Stuart are both trying to move away from Irene's demands and the trials of Matthew and the triplets is quite humorous.

I only wish these books were longer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My friends in Edinburgh, 4 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
I have to confess that I am totally addicted to this series of McCall Smith's. It is mostly Bertie who keeps me coming back for more. I think for as long as A McS keeps writing these charming stories, I will read them. Will Bertie ever get to escape his insufferable mother, although she does seem to have an epiphany at the end of this book - but will it last? I have only given this book 4 rather than 5 stars, as I didn't enjoy it quite so much. Something to do with the pace, it wasn't quite as snappy. Otherwise, I unequivocably recommend these books - be warned though, they can prove to be addictive!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liberation for Bertie?, 2 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
The latest in the 44 Scotland Street saga is yet another fine example of the skill of Alexander McCall Smith in continuing to interweave the lives of so many diverse characters - and leaves the reader wondering if Big Lou really will marry her Angus farmer and has the dreadful Irene really begun to see put-upon Bertie as a little boy rather than as a project, questions that has this reader longing to know what happens next!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very best yet, 4 Sept. 2011
By 
Mrs. S. A. Humphery "Arnsidereader" (Cumbria England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
If readers are not familiar with this Series of books they are missing a lot. There is loads of humour and also the characters are described so well that the reader really gets to know them and their lives. 44 Scotland Street the first in the series is the only place to start............read and enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to Scotland Street 8, 13 Sept. 2011
By 
JayBrechin (Brechin, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
My friend and I read the new Bertie book, as we call them, then talk about the characters as if they were our friends, that is how we think of them. We look forward to the next book as soon as we have finished one because that is the way Alexander McCall Smith writes, whetting your appetite to find out what happens to Bertie and the other residents of 44 Scotland Street.Think of going on holiday for a couple of months, then coming home to catch up with family, friends and neighbours, that is what reading the Scotland Street books are all about, real life with a good dose of laugh-out-loud fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent Book, 9 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) (Hardcover)
Good Read, very funny. A typical read from this writer, my collection now has 18 of his books which I find I can read more than once.
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Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7)
Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7) by Alexander McCall Smith (Hardcover - 1 Aug. 2011)
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