Amy's Reviews > Espresso Tales

Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith
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Sep 09, 11

bookshelves: 2011-reads, contemporary-fiction
Read from September 03 to 06, 2011

I really enjoyed the first of Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street novels, and so was really looking forward to reading this. However, I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much.

On the plus side, I really love the drama of the Pollock family. Poor Bertie has now started at Steiner’s school-where his classmates have names like Tofu and Hiawatha-but longs to be a ‘normal’ boy and go to a school with a blazer and rugby. His unhappiness ultimately impacts his father, Stuart, who admires Irene but is finally tired of her violence surrounding ‘the Bertie project’ and takes a stand.

There’s also the addition of a couple of other colourful characters. Dr Fairbrain, Bertie’s psychiatrist is given more room to breathe, and reveals himself not to be so perfect. Then there’s Ramsey Dunbartan, who popped up in 44 Scotland Street at the Conservative ball, who is seen here reading his memoirs to his long-suffering wife Betty; which reveals him to be slightly hypocritical.

However, some things irked me this time round than they did in 44 Scotland Street. For instance, the mention of philosophy seemed a little hamfisted; we gather from one discussion that Big Lou is intelligent, we don’t need her to discuss philosophy all the time to grasp that. Additionally, Domenica McDonald seemed sometimes just to stand on a soapbox for an entire chapter which got irritating as well. I was also a little annoyed that Bruce, who was fired from his job at the end of 44 Scotland Street, despite two major mishaps and being reprimanded by Pat, still gets lucky with life.

On the whole however, McCall Smith’s novel is still laugh out loud funny and it’s characters are varied and fun. I think I might just have a look at Love Over Scotland to see what happens next, especially for Bertie.
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09/03/2011 page 156
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