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

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  3,816 ratings  ·  422 reviews
44 SCOTLAND STREET - Book 5

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, finds...more
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Published January 12th 2010 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jo
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,...more
Jane
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...more
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
Sue
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,...more
Bonnie
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
Mark
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...more
Jillian
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.
Susanhayeshotmail.com
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
Anne
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...more
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...more
Audrey
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...more
Ellie
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
Melodie
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.
Tina Siegel
As always, I enjoy catching up with these characters. Well, most of them. Angus and Domenica are lovely; Matthew and Eslpeth are endearing; Antonia is amusing; Irene is insufferable; Bruce is despicable. A motley crew, diverse enough to yield some interesting stories.

Unfortunately, McCall Smith hasn't become any more willing to move outside his comfortable, comforting comfort zone. There are no more stakes in The Unbearable Lightness of Scones than there were in the other Scotland Street books....more
Jessie
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.
Adornable
I am very familiar with Alexander McCall Smith's writing, and always enjoy his studied character development. I usually feel like I know the characters as if I had met them in real life, and generally like them because of this.

However, as this is my first foray into the 44 Scotland Street series, my familiarity with his writing style was the only reason I understood what was going on in this story. I felt like I had intruded upon a tale already in progress, with almost no point of reference.

I gr...more
Gina
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.
Cas
I read many of these books several years ago and had forgotten how wonderful they are. McCall Smith writes about Edinburgh with very gentle wit and employs a cast of warm, cleverly drawn characters that it is impossible not to be drawn to. Not heavy reading by any means, but the writing us in that very accomplished, apparently easy style which doesn't draw undue attention to itself while telling the tale perfectly. These books leave me feeling a little nostalgic for a city I once knew well, and...more
Ken Deshaies
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...more
Luisa
Story wise, at times I felt it went off on too many tangents, though often these seemingly unrelated tangents, Alexander McCall Smith style, end up interweaving themselves in the end somehow; so unexpectedly and subtly.

At times too I felt that I couldn't even put the book down (risking missing my train stop a few times in the process). Some characters from the prequels were back with a vengeance, and a few were gone. But my favourite ones, Angus and Domenica, where pleasantly there, bringing a r...more
Anne Hawn Smith
Unfortunately this book is finished and I have to wait for the last one to come by Interlibrary Loan. I enjoy being with the people in these books so much and I miss them when they are "gone."

This story sees Bertie joining the "Cub Scouts" much to his mother's dismay. Occasionally Bertie's father prevails, and this is one of them. Alas, girls may join the cubs now and Olive has caught wind of it and she shows up to torment Bertie and Tofu. If you want to know what Bertie's horrid mother was like...more
Sue
This is apparently part of a series about 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh - and, as I gradually realised, it might have been better to have read at least one of the others in the series beforehand. I simply could not keep track of all the people in this book, which felt at times more like a few episodes from a soap, rather than a novel. My favourite character was the delightfully precocious six-year-old Bertie who wants nothing more than to join Cub Scouts, while his mother wants him to join onl...more
Ladiibbug
Mar 06, 2010 Ladiibbug rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Leila T.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gary
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
Jenny Karraker
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
Laurel Bradshaw
Alexander McCall-Smith has created a host of wonderful characters. I continue to care about them and their adventures, even after 5 books in this series. I listened to the audio version, deftly narrated by Robert Ian Mackenzie. Of course, he could read the phone book and it would be entertaining!

Book description from Amazon:
The witty and utterly delightful new novel in the national bestselling 44 Scotland Street series.

Featuring all the quirky characters we have come to know and love, The Unbear...more
Barbara
Feb 02, 2010 Barbara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those already fans of Scotland Street.
Shelves: general-fiction
I always enjoy picking up something from Alexander McCall Smith. This new installment from the Scotland Street collection was a pleasant read, moving ahead familiar characters and ambling through their lives. A cozy read, nothing earth-shattering, but enjoyable.

This one focused a bit more on Angus and his dog Cyril, the now-newly married Matthew, Big Lou's trial of a boyfriend (and pathetic revolutionary) and the narcissist Bruce. I liked Bertie's attempts at more boyish pursuits, the small sli...more
P.A. Wilson
The book is delightful. I’m mainly a reader of gritty mystery or urban fantasy and this is a gentle story of a group of Edinburgh neighbors. Each is given their own story and each story dances around the other to form a tale of love, near death, nationalism, and quirky Jacobites.
It’s different from what I normally read, but I find his stories charming. You’ll like this if you liked the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency for it’s characters and little surprises.
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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...
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1) Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2) Morality for Beautiful Girls (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #3) The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #4) The Full Cupboard of Life (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5)

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“Moisturiser and a good cry: two things for modern men to think about.” 2 likes
“How often have I noticed or, indeed, listened to him? 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 be my turn to say something? For how many of us is that what conversation means - the setting up of our lines?” 1 likes
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