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Bertie Plays the Blues

(44 Scotland Street #7)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  4,294 ratings  ·  500 reviews
Domestic bliss seems in short supply at 44 Scotland Street. Over at the Pollocks, dad, Stuart, is harbouring a secret about a secret society and Bertie is feeling kind of blue. Having had enough of his neurotic hot-housing mother, he puts himself up for adoption on eBay. Will he go to the highest bidder or will he have to take matters into his own hands? Will the lovelorn ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Anchor (first published 2011)
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Cynthia Egbert I just finished this one and was quite angry at the author for this glitch in the timeline because I loved the reunion with Pat in the previous book…moreI just finished this one and was quite angry at the author for this glitch in the timeline because I loved the reunion with Pat in the previous book and the hair pulling episode with the other employee at the gallery. (less)

Community Reviews

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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,294 ratings  ·  500 reviews

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Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 44 Scotland Street novels are not fluff. They humorous and humane. The characters--except for Bruce--are not coercive. And Bruce gets what he deserves in this book--lots of money and no love. This book is fantasy. But the fantasy is an appealing one: that good, though imperfect, people might get what they deserve. Elspeth, Matthew and the triplets get the best au pair in the world. Big Lou finds a kind widower, a contemporary from Arbroath. Pat finds an uncomplicated man to love. And Domenic ...more
Lyn Battersby
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my 3rd Scotland Street novel and I have to say, this series is fast becoming my favourite. As much as I love Mma Ramotswe, I find I am forming a greater bond with Bertie. For me, Bertie is pretty much the best character in modern literature. I know I am never going to be a traditionally built lady from Botswana, driving around in my little white car, solving problems, but I do know the angst of being young and not knowing how to verbalise what *you* want from life in the face of what you ...more
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-laptop, on-ipad2, 2018
4.5-4.75 stars. Oh I wish I could buy all of AMS's books and give them to everyone in the world to read. These books are humorous and entertaining but most of all, they are lessons in small kindnesses, and how much of a difference they make in the world.

His The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series will probably always be my favorite, and it's the only series I've ever read completely twice over. But this one is a close second. And it keeps getting better. These last two volumes are my favorite
Oct 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Alexander McCall Smith. He Tweets short stories, always has interesting things to say and write, and is the author of one of my favourite series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency featuring my favourite detective Ma Ramotswe.

His other two series, The Sunday Philosophy Club and 44 Scotland Street (of which this book is part of) are set in Edinburgh. The characters that populate these series are thoughtful and philosophical (the give away is in that series title right!) and many words are l
The Scotland Street series is funny, clever, and endearing. The Edinburgh of these books is a place we'd all love to live. I'd add, except for July and August when the city is crammed with tourists who traverse the city in large packs, oblivious to all other humanity, and the obstruction they create. Despite trying visitors, Edinburgh residents couldn't be friendlier. I was pleased that there's a reference to the Belfast poet Michael Longley in this book. Smith includes so many interesting comme ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bertie Plays the Blues is the 7th novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s popular 44 Scotland Street series. Once again we join our favourite Edinburgh characters in their daily lives. Matthew and Elspeth are delighted to now have three sons, whom they have ambitiously named, but are finding them difficult to tell apart, and exhausting to care for, until help arrives from Denmark; Angus Lordie and Domenica McDonald discuss living arrangements for their marriage, but the appearance of a former boyfrien ...more
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
It looks like Bertie might finally get some peace to be the little boy he is and not a moment too soon. But I really do hate Bruce with an all consuming passion. He had better get his comeuppance by the end of this series. For everyone else, life in Edinburgh is ticking along nicely. A truly inspired set of books.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This series continues to make me smile. The characters are charming and adorable (even the annoying ones like Bruce and Bertie's mom) and I want to have a drink with them at the Cumberland Bar. I love the way this series was written, chapter by chapter as a serial publication. Bertie is his usual brilliant and cute self who is truly a good person deep down inside. Even when everyone seems to be struggling with a dilema, these books always have an upbeat quality to them which I love and keeps me ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-inventory
See the beautiful city of Edinburgh through the eyes of the current and former inhabitants of 44 Scotland Street and its surroundings as Alexander McCall Smith catches up with them once again in this splendid new novel. Matthew and Elsbeth, the new parents of triplets, see it through the tired eyes that are hungry for sleep and desperate for a little peace in their lives, despite their enormous love for their three tiny little boys (even if they can't tell them apart!) Angus and Domenica, so rec ...more
June Louise
"Ranald stroked his chin. 'How about eBay, Bertie? Have you heard of eBay? You could put yourself on it, you know'. Not having a computer, Bertie was unsure what eBay was, and listened attentively as Ranald explained it to him. 'You can get anything on eBay, Bertie. I'm telling you. Trucks, model railways, even swords. Everything. If you've got something to sell, you put it on eBay and they have a sort of auction. You could choose two weeks maybe. That gives people time to decide how much they w ...more
Oct 04, 2013 rated it liked it
I mean this entirely as praise (and decidedly not as "damning with faint..."): Alexander McCall Smith is a king of the middlebrow novel. I've read a few of these serialized novels (an extraordinary feat of execution, by the way), and finally understand his appeal: He offers novels of ideas that are also novels of about domestic drama, about people who are enormously appealing to middlebrow readers (of whom I am one). We like life rendered in fictional form, with drama, scandal, gossip, and tidbi ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once more, Mr McCall Smith weaves his magic. This series just gets better. The characterisation goes from strength to strength and Bertie at last shows a few weaknesses and gaps in his thought processes which you would expect from one not yet seven years old. This makes him all the more lovable and real. It also raises more than a few chuckles and even the odd belly laugh. His mother is still the brittle super-bitch she always was but even that is beginning to change, albeit ever so slightly and ...more
It is a testament to the skill of Alexander McCall Smith that he can consistently dash off such thoroughly enjoyable middle class... soap opera? pap?drivel?

I am not quite sure at what point his failure to waste any time whatsoever on checking the factual underpinnings is going to stop me reserving each new volume from the library before it is available. I know Bertie is a precocious child but he is too young for Cub Scouts, Elspeth Harmony is a remarkable woman but I doubt she could secure such
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"An antidote to grimness, greyness and meanness" - according to "The Scotsman" review on the back cover. Thus the perfect book to read after 2 unpleasant books - Gone Girl and Chronicle of a Death Foretold
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This was another great offering in the 44 Scotland Street Series. I liked the focus on the trials and tribulations of the long suffering Bertie and also on Matthew and Elspeth and they're newborn triplets. I also love how distinctly Scottish these books (in particular this one) are...Rather than being a distraction for an American reader such as myself, they add atmosphere and depth.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming and joyous episode in the 44 Scotland Street series. Domenica and Angus are about to get married, Matthew and Elspeth try to adjust to life with their baby triplets, vain Bruce reappears in Pat's life.

All the characters have a place in my heart, but the star of them all is Bertie Pollock. His attempts to get himself adopted are both touching and comic, from his carefully crafted advertisement on EBay to the journey to a children's home in Glasgow that doesn't quite go as planned.

Sylvia McIvers
Jul 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommended by the "Someone Else Is Reading It" Club.

Couldn't even finish it.
Eleanor Taylor
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed another read off 44 Scotland Street . Nice light read
Kara Budge
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a charming series. I would love for them to become a sitcom.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
My favorite book of the series so far...
Paula Dembeck
This volume is number 7 in the 44 Scotland Street Series.

Elspeth and Mathew bring home triplets but are having trouble telling them apart and are absolutely exhausted from the sleepless nights and the care the three babies require. They find a solution by hiring Anna a Danish au paire who soon helps them organize themselves and develop a routine. But Elspeth is not comfortable in their new India Street location and longs for the comfort of their former residence on Scotland Street. But alas, tha
Michael Braccia
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book Review: Bertie Plays The Blues (Alexander McCall Smith)

The seventh book in the ’44 Scotland Street’ series, and McCall Smith does not disappoint. Beyond all logic and reason (unless you are a regular reader of the author), Bertie is still six years old. An infant prodigy, he continues to struggle with the pressure piled on him by his ever-irritating mother. Irene insists that Bertie develop his linguistic and musical skills. Fluent in Italian and Saxophone, the little boy (six going on eigh
Penny McGill
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love a visit to 44 Scotland Street. I set aside some chores this Sunday afternoon to finish off this wonderful trip into the world of Bertie, Angus and Matthew. Each time Alexander McCall Smith publishes another of this series I catch myself wondering what he might think of. I can never imagine him coming up with changes in their lives that he hasn't included before but he does. It keeps me turning the pages and brewing more tea even though I know that sinks need to be cleaned and towels need ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
The ongoing soap opera of Edinburgh in the 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. I believe this is the longest novel in his series.

All of the players have a fair run. Elspeth and Matthew have their triplets and have moved into a new, larger upscale "flat." They have their typical problems with the multiple babies and hire an au pair. Elspeth doesn't like the new flat and Matthew makes plans for them to return to India Street.

Domenica, Angus and Antonia travel to Italy, with upsetting re
Gareth Evans
I read this to try and determine the fascination with 44 Scotland Street. My wife really likes them and they seem very popular. Not only does Mr McCall Smith make good money from them, at the time of writing this book has an average rating of 4.07. That takes some beating and many of the great classics would struggle to get much above 3.5. I think that this is one of the nicest (honestly non-pejorative) books I have read). Nothing much happens other than it is nice and when a character is slight ...more
P.C. Dettmann
This belongs to McCall Smith's "44 Scotland Street" series and are not mysteries or legal dramas. No. 44 is just a house converted into flats where some people happen to live, rather than a professional office as I had assumed. These are slim books. Agatha Christie in length and about as demanding. They are very Scottish. Well, quite Scottish. The characters are interesting which is good because this is not a heavily plotted book. They are a good bunch, a nice mix of professional people, artists ...more
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
In this seventh book of the 44 Scotland Street series, new triplets have Matthew and Elspeth sleepless and confused. Big Lou starts dating a man with an unusual hobby, while Angus and Domenica are planning for married life. And Bertie, the seven-year old with the over-controlling mother, tries desperate measures to improve his situation. The humorous musings of the 44 Scotland series on the challenges of everyday life are very much of a place (Edinburgh) and a time (the present, more or less), b ...more
Oct 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
McCall Smith has redeemed himself somewhat with this latest episode from Scotland Street.
More time was spent with those less irritating characters, Angus, Domenica and Pat and finally we may see a little ray of hope for poor Bertie.

That said I do wish that these characters would get a firm dose of the reality that the rest of us mere mortals are living. Was it strictly necessary for Angus Lordie to be gifted a work of art worth over 400,000 GBP and who in their right minds purchases back a prop
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love the Scotland St series (also Sunday Philosophy club and Portuguese Irregular verb series. Makes me wonder how much more Philosophical Scotts are that they read these columns in the newspaper. Imagine this in an American Newspaper, I can't. Bertie and Angus and all the rest, just love reading about them. Favorite part of this book, Matthew cutting off the tripletts name tags, then not knowing who was who. Also, Bertie and Rogenvald getting on the train to Glasgow and getting off at the nex ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Will 7 year old Bertie finally escape the clutches of his domineering Tiger-Mother, Irene? In this latest installment of his Scotland Street series, McCall Smith delivers a lively, insightful glimpse into the lives of the diverse inhabitants of this Edinburgh neighborhood. It seems one is either a huge fan or hugely indifferent to this series, and I confess to being the former.
I love the characters, wish that I could be the worldly Domenica, fear that I've been the helicopter mom, Irene and am
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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 12 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 Unbearable Lightness of Scones (44 Scotland Street, #5)
  • The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street, #6)
  • 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)
“The trouble with technology is that it’s dehumanised us – it’s removed the restraints of ordinary human interactions. So we lose the notion that the person with whom we’re dealing is a person like us, with failings and feelings. It’s exactly the same as in wartime. When people are engaged in conflict, they very easily lose sight of the humanity of the other. They become capable of doing things that they would never do in their ordinary lives.” 3 likes
“You know the best example of sincerity? The absolute gold standard?


Angus pointed to the door, outside which Cyril was waiting patiently. A dog. Have you ever met an insincere dog - a dog who hides his true feelings?
Domenica looked thoughtful.

And cats?

Dreadfully insincere, said Angus. Psychopaths- every one of them. Show me a cat, Domenica, and I'll show you a psychopath. Textbook examples.”
More quotes…