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Espresso Tales

(44 Scotland Street #2)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  10,644 ratings  ·  805 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.  
Back are all our favorite denizens of a Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh. Bertie the immensely talented si
Paperback, 345 pages
Published July 11th 2006 by Anchor (first published October 1st 2005)
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Amy Turman You don't have to, but I would recommend it just because it is so good. You'll get to know the characters better.…moreYou don't have to, but I would recommend it just because it is so good. You'll get to know the characters better.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,644 ratings  ·  805 reviews

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May 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
I love Alexander McCall Smith. I would read his grocery list, and I bet it would be more interesting than a lot of the crap that's out there. ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it

3.5 stars

This is the second book in the "44 Scotland Street" series. It can be read as a standalone.

In these lighthearted stories, Alexander McCall Smith recounts the activities of a diverse circle of folks who live in Edinburgh's "New Town" neighborhood. Many of the characters live in apartments at 44 Scotland Street - and others are their friends and acquaintances.


The most endearing character in the book is little Bertie Pollock, a six-year-old boy whose mother embarked on 'the Bertie pro
Judith E
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scotland
I’m somewhat reluctant to proclaim my enjoyment of this series because Smith’s writing of gentle, everyday people that are full of everyday human foibles seems, on the surface, to be uncomplicated. But as the reader familiarizes themselves with these characters it becomes clear that this author has thoroughly studied human behavior. The writing has been a soothing balm that drowns out the talking heads of our times,

The Scottish residents of Edinburgh are sometimes quirky, educated, confused or
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
OK, I finished another Alexander McCall Smith book, what can I say, I just love this guy and his writing style.

I love how he gets into the brains and thoughts of so many of his characters. I can tell that he uses certain characters to ruminate on his own philosophies of the case of these books in the 44 Scotland Street series, its Domenica Macdonald, one of the residents of the title address.

I googled Smith's writing style and found this on the BBC website:

McCall Smith's writing offer
*second read*

4 stars.
I just love Alexander McCall Smith. I feel like I am always gushing on about him. He is my hero. You can always count on him to bring goodness and decency to the forefront. We all need a thousand times more of this these days.

This series follows characters living in an building on Scotland St and people connected to them. It sounds dry but it isn't. It is populated with interesting people and even a really cool dog. Also a little boy I dare you not to love.

This is the sec
Judson Williford
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I actually just finished the 3rd in this series: Love over Scotland, which I will review shortly.

For my first ever GoodReads review, I wanted to start with this one, not because it was better or worse than the first or third, but because it does have an interesting aspect that sets it apart--not just from the books I've read so far of this series, or by this author, but of anything I've ever read!

That being (with disclaimer following):

Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oh, my! NUDISTS! HAVING PICNICS! And of course, pointing out how difficult it is to be a "naturalist" in Scotland! And Bruce gets his comeuppance! Sort of!

Frankly, I could read just the bits about Bertie, his poor dad, and his terrible mother. And, while I know that the parts with Ramsey Dunbarton are intentionally boring, for comic purposes . . . well, yes, they're very, very boring!
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Robert Ian MacKenzie

Book two in the “44 Scotland Street” series about the residents of a particular apartment building in Edinburgh. This began as a serialized novel for The Scotsman newspaper and became so popular that the daily episodes were compiled into the original novel, which left many of the stories unfinished. Readers demanded more, and Smith was more than happy to comply.

Bertie is now in kindergarten, forced to wear pink – or “crushed strawberry” – overalls when
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it
More about the exploits of the characters who live at 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh. Lively, witty, amusing, and sometimes thoughtful. Gentle reminders about what is important in life find their way into the narrative. For example on p. 327: "Big Lou did not like conflict and estrangement--what was the point, she thought, in being at odds with those whom we should love when our time on this earth was so very short?" In fact, in trying to describe the writing of McCall Smith I would say that he ...more
Another delightful visit to Scotland Street and we find things changing for all the residents. My favorite character is six year old Bertie, who would just like to have some breathing space and he's not so sure his mother Irene understands, his father Stuart on the other hand may be ready to take a stand! Also we find the narcissistic Bruce back and still full of himself,setting himself on a new course. Of course there are the rest of the delightful cast of characters who are part of these tale ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, icanhaz, uk, scotland, 2020
Solid 3,5*. I am still invested in the stories. Looking forward to seeing where they are heading. :)

Small spoiler: I was quite surprised that Irene didn't notice that Bertie came home with other shoes (or maybe it is that 1 she had so much on her mind 2 she was so obsessed with his dungarees).

I am not so much curious about the ramification in Glasgow, although I liked it, but I don't want this series to become something giving me heart palpitations (!).

PS+LE I found this particular title ”Espres
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
Aug 09, 2011 added it
The second instalment in the lives of the inhabitants of 44 Scotland Street and their friends and relations. For me, the story that continues to dominate is that of Bertie, his appalling mother Irene and his father - who finally locates the car he left parked in Glasgow, after a fashion!

Bertie's introduction to school is a chequered one; he still hankers after a place at Watson's and is determined to find inventive ways to achieve his aim. Matthew's father Gordon has found a new girlfriend, Jani
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith is my guilty pleasure. His are the audio books I want on the airplane, or in the garden while I wrestle with the weeds.

He tackles stereotypical Edinburgh characters, exaggerates them only a little, and plunks most of them down in one apartment building. They make me laugh. Six-year-old Bertie figures strongly, and I cheer for him in his small war against the psychotherapist his mother foists upon him. (She also foists on him the hated pink overalls which are supposed to he
It took me a seemingly long time to finish this gem but life "got in the way" for a few weeks.


Thank goodness for Bertie! He kept me company in the wee hours this morning whilst I was ill with a migraine. I think it was him and the others on Scotland street who made me better rather than my meds :-)
June Louise
"It drives me mad to hear people say: 'Don't be judgmental.' That's moral philosophy at the level of an Australian soap-opera. If people weren't judgmental, how could we possibly have a moral viewpoint in society?"

Espresso Tales is the second installment of the series of books based in Scotland Street - a real street (but fictional characters) - in Edinburgh, where the residents are ever-so-slightly snooty and judgmental. In this novel, Bruce embarks on his new career in the wine trade - but wil
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
First sentence: It was summer. The forward movement of the year, so tentative in the early months of spring, now seemed quite relentless.

Premise/plot: Espresso Tales is the sequel to 44 Scotland Street. This novel was originally published serially in The Scotsman. One chapter per day. Imagine a soap opera in print with more wit than skin. I really enjoyed revisiting the characters. Most of the characters--though not all--were first introduced in 44 Scotland Street. There are some new characters
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
More of the same here. I could once again see how this works as a daily column. But this time around it doesn't work well as a book. I also discovered that there are 8 or more books in this series as there are in anything by McCall Smith (at least that's what it looks like). That has kinda put me off the writer and definitely off this series. I was initially considering reading the entire series but that was back when I thought there was no more to the series than 3 books. Such naivete.

Anyway t
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
Still enjoying these glimpses into the lives of the interesting, quirky Edinburgh inhabitants, but there were some chapters that were just really tedious. I'm not sure about the point of the Ramsey Dunbarton memoirs, but I felt like I was dying....Okay, not, but was SO BORED! There are several parts that just philosophize way too much. I also find Bertie's mom to be beyond unbearable. Partially because I love Bertie, but also because she's just horrid. This one ended on a lovely note, but left e ...more
Christine Goodnough
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A second installment on this delightful series. I enjoy the decent writing style, the humor, and the various characters, flawed, quirky, idealistic, who connect with this apartment building on Scotland Street.
Through young Bertie and his parents the writer offers tongue-in-cheek comments on the current politically correct and psychological thinking; Bruce's efforts to get rich demonstrate the egotistical thinking of some people. Each of the other characters adds their own color and flavor to the
****3.5 stars

This was a good book. I en most of the characters. The dialogue also helped with the advancing of the story. However, it was a bit slower going than the first book.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5. I liked this one better than the first, not sure if/when I'll read the 3rd though.... :) ...more
Karen Germain
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thankfully, Alexander McCall Smith has a huge fan base. A huge fan base that convinced him to continue with the 44 Scotland Street series beyond his second collection, Espresso Tales. I cannot imagine him abandoning such a colorful group of characters, but as he mentions in his forward, he had intended Espresso Tales to be the end of the series and it would have been, had not friends and fans convinced him otherwise at a publication party.

Although, I would argue that his intention of ending the
Mary Ronan Drew
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
By now everyone in the English-speaking world and beyond recognizes the magical pen of Alexander McCall Smith and his various series of books about Scotland and Botswana. When I first discovered The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and tried to tell my friends they HAD to read this book I got puzzled looks. Now McCall Smith’s stories are recognized for their warmth and loving charm.

Publisher’s Weekly describes Espresso Tales better than I could:

Once again McCall Smith fixes his telescope on the win
Anne Hawn Smith
I loved 44 Scotland Street and this was just as good. It is the characters that make this series so rich, as it is in all Alexander McCall Smith's books. I feel like I'm visiting people I know. Undoubtedly, Bertie is the best character. He is the not quite 6 year old prodigy who is now ready for the Steiner school, when he really wants to go to a nice Rugby playing school. Bertie wouldn't be Bertie if it wasn't for his awful mother...the character you love to hate. And then there is Lou, the big ...more
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
There is a lot more resolution in this second Scotland Street book than there was in the first. Of course, there are (as of today) eight more in the series, presumably involving a lot of the same characters. But I was happy to see this book could be a fair stopping point for reading the books, since the first volume did leave so much unresolved. It's all pretty understandable, since McCall Smith has been writing this story for the Scotsman newspaper for more than a decade now.

I can't really spea
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book quite charming, like all McCall Smith's work. However, I found it a little odd; most of the characters just have a sort of meandering day-to-day series of tales about each of them. Pat meets a fellow who invites her to an unusual event, it's a bit odd and she leaves. Bruce tries to open a wine shop but isn't that smart about it, and it fizzles. Domenica chats with people. Matthew's father gets a girlfriend whom Matthew is suspicious of and then he gets over it. They're all simp ...more
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was better than "44 Scotland Street," the first book in the series. I laughed out loud at some of the scenes, and am probably hooked until I read the last one in this series. My favorite parts are those that deal with Bertie, a very gifted 6-year-old and his family. His attempts to lead a normal life, despite a pushy and "enlightened" mother provide poignancy as well as comedy. There is one episode in which his psychotherapist says 'chow' (the dog) and Bertie mistakes it for 'ciao' (th ...more
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This serialized novel tells of several people living in flats at 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh. The stories of their lives are quietly funny and occasionally absurd. What they always are is true. They are not caricatures of people but real people with foibles and virtues. Bruce deserves a comeuppance but in real life people don't always get what they deserve and the rest of us have to decide whether to be generous or small about it. His characters do this as they discuss moral issues, the wine ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
44 Scotland Street may be anywhere, in any city that has history behind it, and human beings going about their seemingly ordinary lives within whatever the city has to offer. What is extraordinary is how the author makes us part of the lives of these characters and throws in something that makes every mundane event anything but. My most favorite lines in this part of the series are Domenica's views on globalization. Sample this: And in this way is our wide and entrancing world, our vivid world o ...more
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Play Book Tag: Espresso Tales / Alexander McCall Smith - 3*** 1 8 May 31, 2018 02:28PM  

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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

Other books in the series

44 Scotland Street (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #1)
  • 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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