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44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street #1)

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  15,801 Ratings  ·  1,839 Reviews

The residents and neighbors of 44 Scotland Street and the city of Edinburgh come to vivid life in these gently satirical, wonderfully perceptive serial novels, featuring six-year-old Bertie, a remarkably precocious boy—just ask his mother.

Welcome to 44 Scotland Street, home to some of Edinburgh's most colorful characters. There's Pat, a twenty-ye
ebook, 306 pages
Published December 6th 2005 by Anchor (first published 2005)
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Jul 17, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like strong character stories
Sixty pages into this book, I stopped and looked at the back of it. What was it about again? Did the same thing sixty pages later.

When I finally closed the back cover, I realized that this is a book about nothing. It's Seinfeld in Edinburgh.

McCall Smith did this serial novel for The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. Each chapter is short -- about 9 inches of copy for a daily newspaper run.

And what he's created is this wonderful and funny character study. Like Seinfeld, nothing much happens, but
Oct 03, 2007 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of art, literature, and the British Isles
Shelves: literary-novels
I've just finished this book, and I'm absolutely enchanted with it. The title of the last chapter sums it up: "Gain, Loss, Friendship, Love." What more could one ask?

44 Scotland Street is a gentle book, like murmured conversation about fascinating things. The characters are more real than many people I've met in the flesh. After the last page is read, you feel that they continue on without you, as in life.

Literary fiction is like art, I suppose: you either love it or you don't. I loved it.
Petra Eggs
May 05, 2015 Petra Eggs rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Alexander McCall Smith writes a certain type of novel, a cosy sandwiches and scones for afternoon tea type of book, whether it is in wet and gloomy Scotland or the glorious sun-filled vistas of Botswana. He has a definite turn of phrase that is quite unique, but sometimes it seems to be done because he is so delighted in himself than for moving the stories or characters onward. I enjoyed the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series until it ran out of steam - same characters without anything ne ...more
Bill Khaemba
Surprised at how much I enjoyed this, really surprised… Before you read this review make some tea get cosy because you are about to take a sneak peek into other people’s lives

Image result for Sips tea gif

“The young rarely believe that they will not be able to get what they want because there is always an open future.”

I have to admit that I am always a bit curious as to how my next-door neighbours live, how they act behind closed doors, what they eat for dinner, what books are on their bookshelves and just the general c
Ellery Adams
Apr 06, 2008 Ellery Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something about McCall's Smith's writing that brings a smile to my face. Having read all of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books and adored them, I was hoping to find this series appealing as well and I certainly do. Meeting these Scottish characters is like sitting down to share a cup of coffee with a group of friends. Normally, the tangents some of these characters take would feel irrelevant and make me feel rather impatient, but I was willing to ramble anywhere in the city and cov ...more
Feb 05, 2015 Bettie☯ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ivonne Rovira
Apr 21, 2013 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith had already created two incredibly diverse series — one with Mma Precious Ramotswe, the intuitive and clever Botswanan detective who debuted in the novel The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and philosopher Isabel Dalhousie of The Sunday Philosophy Club series — when a chance meeting with Armistead Maupin gave us 44 Scotland Street. Speaking with Maupin, the author of Tales of the City, gave Smith the idea of borrowing the idea of the apartment house in San Francisco and tr ...more
Sep 25, 2011 Phyllis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd known before purchasing this for my kindle that it was originally published as a daily!! newspaper serial. Being prolific obviously comes easily to McCall, and he accepted this challenge with no second thoughts (comparing himself to Dickens!) whose novels were also originally published as serials, but Mccall does a disservice to the reader. Too many characters with too many stories, some of which never become resolved. And most of these characters are one dimensional. I was especially ...more
Jennifer Wilbanks
This was my first taste of Alexander McCall Smith's writing and I was not disappointed. Based on a set of characters either residing in, or involved in some with with those residing in, a building of flats in Scotland, the books follows them through various aspects of their lives. Beautifully written, the characters were deep, interesting, and fun to follow through the trials and tribulations of their lives. And McCall Smith is one of the best writers I've had the joy of reading in quite some ti ...more
Aug 28, 2012 Ernie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall-Smith was invited to write a serialized story for an Edinburgh new paper. Each day a short chapter would be published. The author wrote the book as he went along, trying to keep a number of issues ahead. This type of story has interesting consequences. Each chapter needs to be a stand-alone story, worthy of publication. It needs to draw ther reader to buy the next issue of the paper to keep up. Also... there is no going back to change an element in the story once a chapter has b ...more
Aug 05, 2016 Cathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
I've heard and read so many positive reviews of Alexander McCall Smith's novels that when I saw this one at the local library I checked it out. I wanted a change of pace and tone after finishing a somber, difficult to read novel.

I wasn't taken immediately by this novel, almost abandoning it, thinking it was a little too cotton-candyish for my taste. I'm glad I kept with it. All the residents of 44 Scotland Street have interesting back stories, and McCall Smith develops each character with an ey
3.5 stars… I was reading 44 Scotland Street before, during and after my short stay in Edinburgh. This was an enjoyable read - entertaining without being too superficial and with well-drawn characters. I liked especially the vibrant description of Edinburgh, and I wrote down one or two names of bookshops and restaurants mentioned in the book. I usually tend to rate these stories rather with 3 stars than 4, as they are not very profound. However, I had such a great time in Edinburgh and this revie ...more
I was lent this book by a friend who insisted that I read it.

I will be clear up front that this isn’t a book I would have chosen on my own, since I primarily read classics and nonfiction. That said, I do see why my friend liked it. I though it was okay, but no more than that.

It was written as a series of daily excerpts in the newspaper The Scotsman, and this shows. The chapters are very short, seldom as long as three pages. In order to keep the reader interested from day to day, the author felt
I am so glad I decided to revisit 44 Scotland Street! A delightful slice of life in Edinburgh a city that I have had the pleasure of visiting. These enchanting tales of the residence of this address gives the reader a glimpse into the hearts and minds of these wonderful characters. Alexander McCall Smith is a favorite writer of mine because he understands human nature and the foibles of his fellow man. What a nice little chuckle you will get when you read of some of the events that take place o ...more
Alexander McCall Smith, after chatting with Armistead Maupin at a party at Amy Tan's house about serialized novels, undertook to write what is essentially an Edinburgh version of Tales of the City. 44 Scotland Street doesn't have Maupin's very sly wit, sense of zeitgeist and ability to define what is iconic in a place and time, but it's certainly a successful, if light, story of the various young and old tenants of an Edinburgh apartment house and the people in their expanding circles, and nimbl ...more
Originally published as a serialized novel in The Scotsman, 44 Scotland Street is written in third-person omniscient, but shifts focus amongst several tenants in an apartment building at the title address. Overall, the characters were really one-dimensional. Bruce and Irene were particularly painful to read about, as their view of reality was so twisted and neither of them seemed to possess any redeeming qualities. It's as if McCall Smith was studying psychology while writing the series and deci ...more
Jan 29, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve only recently become acquainted with Alexander McCall Smith by way of his light detective series based in Botswana and featuring The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Now I’ve met the distinctive characters who are residents of the Edinburgh apartment building at 44 Scotland Street. McCall Smith was inspired by the serialized work of Armistead Maupin, whose “Tales of the City” captured an era in San Francisco. This collection likewise appeared in a newspaper, The Scotsman; hence the reader wi ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Sariah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny that I read this right after reading Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair is a classic that was written as a newspaper serial. I was just thinking about how nobody writes like that anymore when I opened 44 Scotland Street to read in the introduction that the author was chatting up with Amy Tan (name drop!) about that very thing! So his hometown newspaper said to him, "write a serial", and this was it.
I loved it. I keep waffling between giving it 4 or 5 stars because I loved it so much. I loved these
Dec 03, 2007 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of a series (I'm not sure I'll bother listing the rest here) that first appeared, just like a Dickens novel, in a newspaper. Some find the writing episodic, but I have no problem with that. Makes it easy to pick up and put down in small bites.

A saxaphone savant (if not exactly his idea; he's all of about five), a 20-something narcissist obsessed with hair products and uncertain about the undergarment for a kilt, a later-middle aged anthropologist whose widowhood... Well, there
I am so completely charmed by this first book that I just have to read all the rest of this series immediately.

I don't even know what to say except-- go read this book if you want to laugh a lot and chuckle meet so many curious and quirky characters. This book is so witty!
Sep 23, 2010 Grandma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Will Lyons had agreed to meet Bruce at the request of his friend Ed Black. Ed knew a colleague of Bruce's through Roddy Martine, who knew everybody of course, even if he was not absolutely sure whether he knew Bruce. There was a Crieff connection to all this. Roddy Martine had attended a party at the Crieff Hydro, which was run by the cousin of Ross Lickie, a friend of Charlie Maclean, who had been at the party and who had introduced him to Bruce, who knew Jamie Maclean, who lived not far from ...more
44 Scotland Street. Alexander McCall Smith is absolutely a genius! The plot is fascinating and the characters are definitely believable.

Bruce… The only words to describe him are: egotistical, narcissistic and self absorbed. Not to mention rude and unfeeling. To put it simply, Bruce is in love with himself. He will stand in front of his mirror and admiring himself, he puts top notch gel into his en brosse hairstyle and acts like he was made to impress. Unfortunately the women following him aroun
Nathalie S
Sep 12, 2012 Nathalie S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a confirmed Alexander McCall Smith book devotee. I have followed his No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency books with Mma Precious Ramostwe and his Sunday Philosophy Club books with Isabelle Dalhousie for several years. I had tried to read a 44 Scotland Street book previously and was disappointed that I couldn't get into it. But,lo and behold, another 44 Scotland Street book on CD came through at work and I decided to give it another go. Oftentimes, listening to wonderful readers makes a world of d ...more
Alexander McCall Smith's books are total craaaaaaack. Seriously. They're like cotton candy with endpapers. Smith explains in the introduction that this series came about when he met Armistead Maupin, author of the Tales of the City books, at a party in San Francisco; he lamented the demise of the serial novel, and then was challenged to write his own. Since I really enjoyed the Tales of the City books [side rant:] or at least the first three; after that, Maupin apparently concluded that any fema ...more
I have long loved the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, there is something gentle and pleasant about them, and had at the back of my mind to some day get around to reading Alexander McCall Smith's other offerings. Particularly 44 Scotland Street because it was written as a serial for The Scotsman newspaper. A serial for a newspaper? In this day and age? Intriguing.

Well a winter flu coupled with a winter storm had me home bound for the better part of a week and when I was well enough to be bor
Anne Hawn Smith
I have read this book before but enjoyed again the rich characters in it. Each of the people exists in a rooming house passing each other in the hall and yet not really knowing about each other's lives. My favorite character is the little boy prodigy, Bertie, or at least his mother thinks so. He is 5 and playing the saxophone and learning to read and speak Italian. His overly involved mother has painted his bedroom pink so he will not be bound by the cultural stereotypes and would rather see him ...more
Nilo Di Stefano
Feb 09, 2012 Nilo Di Stefano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Viva Edimburgo! McCall Smith con questa nuova serie riesce a catturare l'attenzione del lettore dopo poche pagine. Una scrittura fresca e con molto ritmo nonostante non sia un romanzo d'azione o avventura. Piena zeppa di rimandi all'Italia e alla nostra cultura, piena zeppa di collegamenti alla psicanalisi e la sua teoria, racconta frustrazioni, paure, ansie e modi di essere attualissimi. Una trama snella e accattivante che a me ha ricordato vagamente Ian Samson ma con meno ritmo, meno risate e ...more
Oct 30, 2014 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scozzesi
I've been in Scotland for 4 years, then I had to leave in 2011. I never fully recovered: Edinburgh has a way to stick to you. So, although I'm a huge fan of McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency saga, I put Scotland Street on hold. I was afraid to become too emotional.
Sure enough, now that I closed the first volume, I'll buy some chocolate on my way home to deal with being homesick.
I met the characters in this book. I walked on those streets. I peered into those art galleries on my
Aug 02, 2013 Malvina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone else on Goodreads described this as 'Seinfeld in Edinburgh', ie. nothing much happens. True, but he enjoyed it very much, as did I. The gentleness and humour in the book is rather lovely, and McCall Smith totally nails the characterisations. Written as a serial in a daily newspaper, each chapter was a daily instalment, so ends with a slight hook and gives the reader much compulsion to read on. How lucky I was to read it in book form as opposed to waiting for the daily paper to get my nex ...more
Jan 05, 2011 Zoe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-lit
While billed some places as a mystery, this is not one, and unlike the Precious Ramotswe series, nothing ever gets achieved. This is simply a character study of a group of people (many of whom live at 44 Scotland street), all of whome are severely flawed and not a single one of whom is as smart as the average reader is going to be.
The lack of sense of place was also dissappointing - his picture of Botswana in another series so crystal clear you assume you are going to get a better picture of Ed
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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...

Other Books in the Series

44 Scotland Street (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Espresso Tales (44 Scotland Street, #2)
  • Love Over Scotland (44 Scotland Street, #3)
  • The World According to Bertie (44 Scotland Street, #4)
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street, #5)
  • The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street, #6)
  • Bertie Plays the Blues (44 Scotland Street, #7)
  • Sunshine on Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #8)
  • Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers (44 Scotland Street, #9)
  • The Revolving Door of Life (44 Scotland Street, #10)
  • The Bertie Project (44 Scotland Street #11)

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“Daughters could survive a powerful mother, but boys found it almost impossible. Such boys were often severely damaged and spent the rest of their lives running away from their mothers, or from anybody who remotely reminded them of their mothers; either that, or they became their mothers, in a desperate, misguided act of psychological self defence.” 7 likes
“The young rarely believe that they will not be able to get what they want, because there is always an open future.” 3 likes
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