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The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street #5)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  5,622 Ratings  ·  522 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.  

Featuring all the quirky characters we have come to know and love, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, find
ebook, 274 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2008)
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Dec 27, 2010 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much to love in this 5th installment. What I love about this is the depth mixed with humor.

From the pithy:
"Old friends, like old shoes, are comfortable. But old shoes, unlike old friends, tend not to be supportive."

To the meaningful:
"Every small wrong, every minor act of cruelty, every act of petty bullying was symbolic of a greater wrong. And if we ignored these small things, then did it not blunt our outrage over the larger wrongs?"

To the hilarious:
[Angus] "Mind you, I did once, years ago,
June Louise
"We talk, but do I actually listen, or is our conversation mainly a question of my waiting for him to stop and for it to by my turn to say something? For how many of us is that what conversation means - the setting up of our lines?"

There is the common conception that sequels fail to live up to the high standards of the original book. While this is true in some cases, I would certainly disagree when it comes to Alexander McCall Smith's novels based on the lives of fictional characters in the New
Dec 26, 2014 Trelawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice continuation of the threads that have been woven in the earlier books. Angus and Domenica are moving closer, Matthew is married, Big Lou is once more unlucky in love and poor Bertie still has to go to therapy... at least now he has the Scouts. And Bruce! Who knew he was capable of change? These stories are populate by wonderful characters and I will be sorry when I reach the final installment.
This was the audio version and it didn't work for me.

It follows the tale of Bertie and his dysfunctional family. It's very British but not engaging enough for my tastes yet there are moments and great clarity about life with a humorous bent.

Adriane Devries
The Unbearable Lightness of Scones is a lovely little novel by the bestselling author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, perfect for a summertime read. You will be transported by delightfully quirky characters and their everyday interconnectedness among the halls and streets surrounding 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh. A newly married couple has a brush with death on their honeymoon. A missing Spode teacup and saucer show up in a friend’s cupboard. A notorious gangster brings a painting to p ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The format of this series of novels – continuing episodes for serial publication – determines that the story will bounce among the various plot lines. The reader can follow suit by picking up and setting down these books, reading casually. This lovely quality is what keeps me coming back for comic relief.

Occasionally I am suspicious that McCall Smith creates a plot turn which he can’t quite resolve. Things seemed fragmented in Book 5.

Some people endure: Angus, Big Lou, Domenica, Matthew, Bruce,
Nov 27, 2011 Audrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european
The 44 Scotland Street novels were written in serialized installments in The Scotsman, one of Edinburgh's daily newspapers. Perhaps because of that, I found them compulsively readable. Each short chapter ended just where I didn't want it to, and so I had to keep reading.

Smith is a generous writer. Even the most narcissistic, unpleasant character has his chance to change, and the unbearably dull are redeemed by their kindnesses. Smith really feels that there's hope for all of us. Besides that, he
Jan 12, 2010 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who could resist a title like "The Unbearable Lightness of Scones", but if you haven't read the other books in the 44 Scotland Street Series, perhaps you should start at the beginning.

All of Alexander McCall Smith's books are what I think of as "pleasant books", but don't think of that as faint praise, I just mean that the characters are so well drawn that they seem like old friends. Old friends that ponder the philosophical questions of everyday life.

In this book, Angus Lordie's dog Cyril, with
Apr 12, 2010 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was delighted when this fifth in the 44 Scotland Street series came out because I had thought that maybe # 4 was all there would be since some of the multiple intertwined stories of life in present day Edinburgh seemed to have come to some sort of resolution. In # 5 much more is revealed! Needless to say, little Bertie has some minor triumphs combined with the inevitable setbacks (Someday I hope to see his awful mother get her comeuppance..) A major character who was loathsome right from the s ...more
Feb 01, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another "44 Scotland Street" book. If you don't know what these are, stop reading now. If you do and have read the previous four, you'll like this one. I don't know how Mr. McCall Smith manages to stay so prolific at such a high quality, but I don't care.

This is a series about nothing -- just characters and what happens to them. Matthew and Elspeth get married and honeymoon in Perth; Angus is given puppies; Domenica covets a lost teacup; Bruce finally grows up; and Bertie, poor, poor Bertie, con
Jun 12, 2009 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fifth book in the 44 Scotland Street series. The first book I thought was just OK, but by the second one I was hooked. These books are such an enjoyable read. If you ever been to Edinburgh and want the oportunity to go back, even if it is just vicariously, I suggest you pick these books up, devour them as I did, and then suffer the regret that there aren't more to read.
There's nothing more enjoyable to a voracious reader than a prolific author!

I've just finished The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. In the past I would have said that the "44 Scotland Road" series wasn't one of the best, but I found this book to be quite a treat. The plot has always been a bit complex, weaving strands of characters' lives in and out throughout the books. This book adds characters who have started to come into their own. Young Bertie is of an age when his insights are quite astou
Being hot makes me cranky and cross. It is the only explanation for my initial irritation with The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. And I was annoyed for a goodly way into the book. Too much over thinking. How much inner philosophizing must one be subjected to before one just tosses the book back into the library bag? To my horror I found myself skimming whole sections of Angus and Domenica and Matthew yammer on in their heads. However. I persevered and my mood and the heat wave both lifted. I sn ...more
Aug 29, 2009 Ellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This USA publication of this book is a few months away, but I picked up a copy in London recently. As with the other books in this series, it's a touching collection of glimpses into the lives of neighbors and friends from a neighborhood in Edinburgh, Scotland. The characters have come to feel like personal friends of mine, even the ones I love to hate. :-) The author employs some very subtle humor, making a bit of fun of human nature. I really hated the book to end, and eagerly await the next i ...more
Mar 09, 2010 Cindi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This series is not my favorite...too many characters and thus, too episodic. I especially dislike narcissistic Bruce--his every thought is shallow, predictable and boring, not humorous. I'm grateful he is finally maturing in this book, but I dislike him so much I don't care if he has a happy ending!!! One does hope Domenica and Angus will finally link up, and that Bertie's father will continue to assert himself between his son and the monster-mum Irene. Most of the book reads like a sit-com, rid ...more
What a joy to read more of the delightful adventures of the residence and their lives! Mathew has an amazing turn of events and we find Bertie in challenging situations once again attempting to get out of his mother's plans for him, Angus is making new discoveries and Domenica is wondering what to do with herself. These are only some of the events that one can read about, but I am giving nothing away! You will just have to make yourself a cup of tea and curl up with the book to find what Alexan ...more
Dec 03, 2016 Tiffany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So I was prompted to do some thinking on why I read the 44 Scotland St. books as my 'light reading,' and I discovered that what I find most likeable about these books is that they're about the every day. There's just a bunch of people who really could be anyone, living lives that aren't off-the-wall. What makes these books fun is that the characters' lives aren't worth writing a book over, and so, you feel right at home in the story. This one is no different.
Through very little fault of it's own I just cannot get into this book. It appears to be the Scottish version of Seinfeld.The characters are everyday and quirky, all living in relative close proximity in Edinburgh.
I have tried repeatedly to get into this book with no success. It's probably more my fault than the book. With the onset of summer I have had very little time or inclination to read much. Not going to be unfair by assigning stars. Maybe I will revisit at some point.
Sep 27, 2010 Jessie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love these books - can't help it. Sometimes I sort of skip over the more philosphical parts, and I don't always agree with the views expressed - but it's also not clear to me that I'm supposed to. Just delightful and gently compelling reading.
Joan Jenkins
Jul 07, 2016 Joan Jenkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites in the series. Light and airy but with delicious and poignant moments - just like a good scone! "Love, blue Spode, marmalade - these were all things that worked away in the background, binding people to one another in invisible nets."
Nov 29, 2011 Gina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just when I thought I could count on Alexander McCall to keep things light he throws in some seriousness and sadness. I look forward to reading the next in this series.
Oct 20, 2010 Marifran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Naomi Sarah
Funny, well written, witty... but not my cuppa tea.
Nov 30, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful as always. It was fun to see Elspeth's backbone near the end, and nice for Bertie to get a little reprieve. I can't wait to read about Irene's reaction to the sleepover.
Leila T.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria Thermann
Jan 17, 2016 Maria Thermann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We are privileged to get another glimpse into the lives of the people who live in New Town's Scotland Street and Drummond Place. Highly entertaining and witty, these are sharp observations on life in modern Scotland nonetheless. McCall Smith's sense for the farcical that can happened to all of us at any time never gets in the way of a truly insightful observation.

Gallery owner Matthew and Elspeth, the former Miss Harmony teacher who was unjustly suspended at Bertie's school, are married and off
Jenny Karraker
Nov 02, 2013 Jenny Karraker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this 5th book in the series. Poor Bertie continues to battle Olive, whom his mother invites over for play dates. When Stuart finally stands up to his wife and allows Bertie to join Cub Scouts, we are pulling for him to have some time with other boys, though he is shocked at who else is allowed to join. Matthew falls in love with Bertie's teacher and they spend their honeymoon in Australia. It is so sweet to hear him muse about the joys of being married and finally finding someone, though ...more
Dec 19, 2008 Ladiibbug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
#5 44 Scotland Street series

A new book in this charming & gentle series is among my very favorite things in Book World! Reading this series always makes me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside :-)

The lives of various residents of the 44 Scotland Street apt. building continue to unfold quietly and with much good humor. In this #5 the ongoing quiet drama of Dominici's missing teacup takes a dramatic turn (well, as dramatic as this calm and funny tale can be!).

Poor 6 year old Bertie continu
Jun 09, 2009 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book isn't available yet in the US, so I was pleased to find it in an International bookshop here in Rome. Alexandar McCall Smith is the author of a remarkable number of books--over 60--including several series. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is probably the best known here in the U.S., but he has also written two series set in Scotland, where he resides. The Isabel Dalhousie series includes five books. (This series focuses on Isabel Dalhousie and her circle of interesting friends. She e ...more
Ken Deshaies
Sep 21, 2013 Ken Deshaies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fifth in the 44 Scotland Street series, the sagas continue, with delicious delight. While I missed Pat (who was prominent in the prior volumes), I anticipate that she will re-emerge. My only problem with this volume was that, while there are clear indications that actions in the lives of others occurred over several years (in one case, that is explicitly stated), little Bertie remains 6 years old. I am anticipating his growth, and his growing abilities to handle his "oddness" in society.

His odd
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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)
  • 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #1)
  • Espresso Tales (44 Scotland Street, #2)
  • Love Over Scotland (44 Scotland Street, #3)
  • The World According to Bertie (44 Scotland Street, #4)
  • 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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