Bertie Plays The Blues
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Bertie Plays The Blues (44 Scotland Street #7)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,985 ratings  ·  328 reviews
Once more, we catch up with the delightful goings-on in the fictitious 44 Scotland Street from Alexander McCall Smith. With customary charm and deftness, Alexander McCall Smith gives us another instalment in this popular series, currently running in The Scotsman. Anything could happen to Bertie and the gang, especially with an invitation to one of Scotland's premier jazz f...more
Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Published August 4th 2011 by Hachette Digital (first published 2011)
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The 44 Scotland Street novels are not fluff. They humorous and humane. The characters--except for Bruce--are not coercive. And Bruce gets what he deserves in this book--lots of money and no love. This book is fantasy. But the fantasy is an appealing one: that good, though imperfect, people might get what they deserve. Elspeth, Matthew and the triplets get the best au pair in the world. Big Lou finds a kind widower, a contemporary from Arbroath. Pat finds an uncomplicated man to love. And Domenic...more
Lyn Battersby
This is my 3rd Scotland Street novel and I have to say, this series is fast becoming my favourite. As much as I love Mma Ramotswe, I find I am forming a greater bond with Bertie. For me, Bertie is pretty much the best character in modern literature. I know I am never going to be a traditionally built lady from Botswana, driving around in my little white car, solving problems, but I do know the angst of being young and not knowing how to verbalise what *you* want from life in the face of what you...more
I love Alexander McCall Smith. He Tweets short stories, always has interesting things to say and write, and is the author of one of my favourite series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency featuring my favourite detective Ma Ramotswe.

His other two series, The Sunday Philosophy Club and 44 Scotland Street (of which this book is part of) are set in Edinburgh. The characters that populate these series are thoughtful and philosophical (the give away is in that series title right!) and many words are l...more
Bertie Plays the Blues is the 7th novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s popular 44 Scotland Street series. Once again we join our favourite Edinburgh characters in their daily lives. Matthew and Elspeth are delighted to now have three sons, whom they have ambitiously named, but are finding them difficult to tell apart, and exhausting to care for, until help arrives from Denmark; Angus Lordie and Domenica McDonald discuss living arrangements for their marriage, but the appearance of a former boyfrien...more
I am addicted to 44 Scotland street and to Corduroy Mansions series. i have read all other Mc Call-Smith series too, starting with the
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. But this one is my favorite.
So yes, Bertie plays the blues. He is still not yet 7, despite "The Importance of Being Seven". He is more and more unhappy with his mother, and is actually trying to get out from under her power. This book also has a birth (or three!) and a wedding (no spoilers), Very very pleasant, sweet, kind, with fami...more
See the beautiful city of Edinburgh through the eyes of the current and former inhabitants of 44 Scotland Street and its surroundings as Alexander McCall Smith catches up with them once again in this splendid new novel. Matthew and Elsbeth, the new parents of triplets, see it through the tired eyes that are hungry for sleep and desperate for a little peace in their lives, despite their enormous love for their three tiny little boys (even if they can't tell them apart!) Angus and Domenica, so rec...more
June Louise
"Ranald stroked his chin. 'How about eBay, Bertie? Have you heard of eBay? You could put yourself on it, you know'. Not having a computer, Bertie was unsure what eBay was, and listened attentively as Ranald explained it to him. 'You can get anything on eBay, Bertie. I'm telling you. Trucks, model railways, even swords. Everything. If you've got something to sell, you put it on eBay and they have a sort of auction. You could choose two weeks maybe. That gives people time to decide how much they w...more
I mean this entirely as praise (and decidedly not as "damning with faint..."): Alexander McCall Smith is a king of the middlebrow novel. I've read a few of these serialized novels (an extraordinary feat of execution, by the way), and finally understand his appeal: He offers novels of ideas that are also novels of about domestic drama, about people who are enormously appealing to middlebrow readers (of whom I am one). We like life rendered in fictional form, with drama, scandal, gossip, and tidbi...more
It is a testament to the skill of Alexander McCall Smith that he can consistently dash off such thoroughly enjoyable middle class... soap opera? pap?drivel?

I am not quite sure at what point his failure to waste any time whatsoever on checking the factual underpinnings is going to stop me reserving each new volume from the library before it is available. I know Bertie is a precocious child but he is too young for Cub Scouts, Elspeth Harmony is a remarkable woman but I doubt she could secure such...more
Once more, Mr McCall Smith weaves his magic. This series just gets better. The characterisation goes from strength to strength and Bertie at last shows a few weaknesses and gaps in his thought processes which you would expect from one not yet seven years old. This makes him all the more lovable and real. It also raises more than a few chuckles and even the odd belly laugh. His mother is still the brittle super-bitch she always was but even that is beginning to change, albeit ever so slightly and...more
"An antidote to grimness, greyness and meanness" - according to "The Scotsman" review on the back cover. Thus the perfect book to read after 2 unpleasant books - Gone Girl and Chronicle of a Death Foretold
The ongoing soap opera of Edinburgh in the 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. I believe this is the longest novel in his series.

All of the players have a fair run. Elspeth and Matthew have their triplets and have moved into a new, larger upscale "flat." They have their typical problems with the multiple babies and hire an au pair. Elspeth doesn't like the new flat and Matthew makes plans for them to return to India Street.

Domenica, Angus and Antonia travel to Italy, with upsetting re...more
Paula Dembeck
This volume is number 7 in the 44 Scotland Street Series.

Elspeth and Mathew bring home triplets but are having trouble telling them apart and are absolutely exhausted from the sleepless nights and the care the three babies require. They find a solution by hiring Anna a Danish au paire who soon helps them organize themselves and develop a routine. But Elspeth is not comfortable in their new India Street location and longs for the comfort of their former residence on Scotland Street. But alas, tha...more
Penny McGill
I love a visit to 44 Scotland Street. I set aside some chores this Sunday afternoon to finish off this wonderful trip into the world of Bertie, Angus and Matthew. Each time Alexander McCall Smith publishes another of this series I catch myself wondering what he might think of. I can never imagine him coming up with changes in their lives that he hasn't included before but he does. It keeps me turning the pages and brewing more tea even though I know that sinks need to be cleaned and towels need...more
Gareth Evans
I read this to try and determine the fascination with 44 Scotland Street. My wife really likes them and they seem very popular. Not only does Mr McCall Smith make good money from them, at the time of writing this book has an average rating of 4.07. That takes some beating and many of the great classics would struggle to get much above 3.5. I think that this is one of the nicest (honestly non-pejorative) books I have read). Nothing much happens other than it is nice and when a character is slight...more
P.C. Dettman
This belongs to McCall Smith's "44 Scotland Street" series and are not mysteries or legal dramas. No. 44 is just a house converted into flats where some people happen to live, rather than a professional office as I had assumed. These are slim books. Agatha Christie in length and about as demanding. They are very Scottish.​ Well, quite Scottish. The characters are interesting which is good because this is not a heavily plotted book. They are a good bunch, a nice mix of professional people, artist...more
Susan Williams
Will 7 year old Bertie finally escape the clutches of his domineering Tiger-Mother, Irene? In this latest installment of his Scotland Street series, McCall Smith delivers a lively, insightful glimpse into the lives of the diverse inhabitants of this Edinburgh neighborhood. It seems one is either a huge fan or hugely indifferent to this series, and I confess to being the former.
I love the characters, wish that I could be the worldly Domenica, fear that I've been the helicopter mom, Irene and am...more
It was so good to hear from these characters that have now become like old friends of mine. I was very pleased to read that Bertie continues to work at freeing himself from the plans of his overbearing mother, Irene. He decides that he will start anew by putting himself up for adoption. It is not that he does not love his family, he just needs to make some changes. The other story lines that are taken up once again are equally entertaining: Angus and Domenica are figuring out how they will merge...more
Although I continue to look forward to and read each and every book that Alexander McCall Smith writes, knowing that it will be pleasant, like eating a nice dessert, I'm mildly disappointed at the end because while I still enjoy the characters and am interested in their positive growth and development (or their hardening of character and stagnation, in some cases), I no longer feel edified by the little nuggets of philosophy and wisdom I've found in previous books (especially the Isabel Dalhousi...more
I usually only give 5 stars to books that are life-changing in some way & I give 4 stars to books that I enjoy with all my heart, but that probably but that don't leave a profound or lasting impact. I notice that I have generally given 4 stars to most of the AMS books that I have read, but I now realize that even though no one of his books has had a profound impact on me, when taken in aggregate, they have made me want to be a nobler, kinder and less complicated human being. And in the proce...more
You know how soup always tastes better the longer it sits? That's how I feel about this 44 Scotland Street series. The characters are like unique vegetables that are tasting better and better the longer that they sit in the pot together. Bertie is suspended in early primary school and the other people from his neighborhood have moved forward. Matthew and Elspeth have triplets. Angus and Domenica are getting married. Some are spinning in space but, they all are so grand. McCall Smith is one of th...more
I love all the Scotland Street novels. Well, I love all the Number One Ladies Detective Agency novels, too. But the Scotland Street novel is set up in a different way.

First, the series tells a rambling set of stories from many perspectives. There are so many characters here but each one is very unique, usually in a poignant or funny way. Even the dog has a point of view at one point when he gets lost and must use his nose to find his way back, not to his master but to the Italian bistro/grocery...more
Nancy McKibben
Apr 21, 2014 Nancy McKibben rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alexander McCall Smith fans; readers who like Scotland
Shelves: reviewed
Bertie Plays the Blues
By Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith, is, of course, the author of the The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which would be enough for most people. Yet he somehow also writes the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the Corduroy Mansions series, and the 44 Scotland Street series, of which Bertie Plays the Blues is the latest offering. Does the man never sleep?

Perhaps he doesn’t, but his books seem uniformly good. The 44 Scotland Str...more
Carmen Serra
I can't wait for the next installment. Poor Bertie will he ever be seven? It looks like he might be able to wear blue jeans soon. Best couple Angus and Cyril. Will they survive when Domenica is thrown in the mix.? Second best couple Bruce and his hair gel, although I fear that relationship is becoming dysfunctional. Finally will Mathew and Elsbeth and the boys find harmony? This and more hopefully soon to come. Since All My Children was cancelled this is my new soap opera.
Jenny Karraker
I was so glad to see Bertie's Dad Stuart stand up to his bossy wife and join the Masons. After Bertie hears about adoption from his friend, he decides that this is a good way to escape from his controlling mother Irene. As the two boys plot and proceed on their adventure to Glasgow to get adopted and then Bertie regretting his decision but being too afraid to back down, you do remember what it was like to be a little child with often mistaken ideas about life. It was touching to see Domenica wor...more
Kerry Bridges
I really love these Alexander McCall Smith books - they are so gentle and kind. It is hard to explain what happens because nothing does really, and that's their charm for me. This time, Domenica and Angus are planning their wedding, Matthew and Elspeth are trying to cope with the triplets, Big Lou is looking for love and Bertie is looking for new parents. As usual, it is all resolved in one way or another, but without a lot of stress in between.
Quite enjoyable, even without mystery, sex, or murder.
This is another installment in Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Series, about relationships, and what one does when in love, for friends, or when one puts up with things. Like Bertie, the character who I think makes this series. He is a 7-year-boy who is pushed around by his domineering mother. The character of the mother is quite well done, and the reader gets strong feelings bout her. And, Bertie puts up with it mostly. He has managed t...more
I love the characters created by AMS. And I love their contemplative natures. AMS succeeds so well in making one think about life, about the consequences of one's actions, about morality and the ethics of everyday life.

One could so easily describe his books as 'light reading', but in my opinion that would be a mistake.
Tina Siegel
So I'm either becoming attached to these characters, or McCall Smith is getting a bit edgier, but I find myself enjoying this series more as it progresses. Again, there's a sense of movement here that I didn't feel in the beginning. Lives are changing, and things don't always revert back to the status quo anymore.

Now, there are exceptions. Irene and Bruce are still entirely odious and I have no use for them. In fact, I don't understand why they're in the books. They add nothing but irritation an...more
Austen to Zafón
I skipped a couple of books in the series to read this one, which a friend loaned me. It didn't really matter; the characters are consistent and the plot moves slowly, so I wasn't confused. I enjoy these books; they're good comfort reads. That said, I do get tired of McCall Smith trumpeting his views via his characters. It's so clear that he can't stand a certain type of person when he makes a character with those traits pretty much unendurable. Most of his characters are either nearly perfect (...more
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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what...more
More about Alexander McCall Smith...
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“Self-pity does not appreciate pedantry.” 1 likes
“You know the best example of sincerity? The absolute gold standard?


Angus pointed to the door, outside which Cyril was waiting patiently. A dog. Have you ever met an insincere dog - a dog who hides his true feelings?
Domenica looked thoughtful.

And cats?

Dreadfully insincere, said Angus. Psychopaths- every one of them. Show me a cat, Domenica, and I'll show you a psychopath. Textbook examples.”
More quotes…