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44 Scotland Street

(44 Scotland Street #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  22,151 ratings  ·  2,476 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.  

Welcome to 44 Scotland Street, home to some of Edinburgh's most colorful characters. There's Pat, a twenty-
Paperback, 325 pages
Published June 14th 2005 by Anchor (first published 2005)
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Julia Bertie! And I'm quite enjoying hating Bruce (the night of the "ball" was soooo funny!)…moreBertie! And I'm quite enjoying hating Bruce (the night of the "ball" was soooo funny!)(less)

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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  22,151 ratings  ·  2,476 reviews

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Jul 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like strong character stories
Sixty pages into this book, I stopped and looked at the back of it. What was it about again? Did the same thing sixty pages later.

When I finally closed the back cover, I realized that this is a book about nothing. It's Seinfeld in Edinburgh.

McCall Smith did this serial novel for The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. Each chapter is short -- about 9 inches of copy for a daily newspaper run.

And what he's created is this wonderful and funny character study. Like Seinfeld, nothing much happens, but
Petra's mechanic says her car isn't worth fixing
Alexander McCall Smith writes a certain type of novel. A cosy sandwiches and scones for afternoon tea type of book. It's a tone that doesn't vary whether it is set in wet and gloomy Scotland or the glorious sun-filled vistas of Botswana. He also has a definite turn of phrase that is quite unique, but sometimes it seems to be done more because he is so delighted in himself and the cosy world he's created than for moving the stories forward or revealing the characters more fully.

I enjoyed the The
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What happens when Isabel Dalhousie with all her innate sense of decency, walking and chatting merrily with the less trusting but similarly practical and charming Mma Ramotswe, turns a corner of a pleasant street, and comes... SMACK DAB INTO OUR CHAOTIC POSTMODERNIST JUNGLE?

They wake up. And they loosen up!

For yes, if you’re living in a zany world like the rest of us - why not be a little zany Yourself? That doesn’t mean you have to set aside your scruples.

Gilles Deleuze, when younger and before
Sep 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of art, literature, and the British Isles
Shelves: literary-novels
I've just finished this book, and I'm absolutely enchanted with it. The title of the last chapter sums it up: "Gain, Loss, Friendship, Love." What more could one ask?

44 Scotland Street is a gentle book, like murmured conversation about fascinating things. The characters are more real than many people I've met in the flesh. After the last page is read, you feel that they continue on without you, as in life.

Literary fiction is like art, I suppose: you either love it or you don't. I loved it.
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
I was reading a paperback edition and then starting with chapter 40, page 103 of 325, I started simultaneously listening to the audio CDs as I read the book. I do enjoy reading that way with some books. The audio narrator was okay, good but not great.

There are very short chapters, and at first I could tell this was written in serial form and I didn’t like it that much, but I got used to it, and even started appreciating the jumping around between characters.

The story was fun and witty and creat
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
I wish I'd known before purchasing this for my kindle that it was originally published as a daily!! newspaper serial. Being prolific obviously comes easily to McCall, and he accepted this challenge with no second thoughts (comparing himself to Dickens!) whose novels were also originally published as serials, but Mccall does a disservice to the reader. Too many characters with too many stories, some of which never become resolved. And most of these characters are one dimensional. I was especially ...more
Bill Khaemba
Surprised at how much I enjoyed this, really surprised… Before you read this review make some tea get cosy because you are about to take a sneak peek into other people’s lives

Image result for Sips tea gif

“The young rarely believe that they will not be able to get what they want  because there is always an open future.”

I have to admit that I am always a bit curious as to how my next-door neighbours live, how they act behind closed doors, what they eat for dinner, what books are on their bookshelves and just
Judith E
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scotland, escapism
ALexander McCall Smith’s setting of a historical apartment building and street in modern Edinburgh, Scotland is a perfect background to present his cast of characters and their unique personalities. These are characters you love, hate, or scratch your head at.

There are snippets of insight throughout with an abundance of references to philosophy, paintings, books and writings. Big Lou’s reading project and conversations contributes a great deal to this. There are introductions about Scottish wri
4.5 stars. I forgot how much I really enjoy this series. Is it as great as the No. 1 Ladies Detective, no, but what is? This is very close. Why do I love it?

1. AMS is a soul author for me. He is someone I trust. I feel I know him. I am safe with him. It doesn't matter what is going on, I know he won't let me down. I could say this about any book he writes, sight unseen.

2. His characters, the likable ones (which are neariy all of them), are wise people. I enjoy hearing their thoughts. They are k
Ellery Adams
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
There is something about McCall's Smith's writing that brings a smile to my face. Having read all of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books and adored them, I was hoping to find this series appealing as well and I certainly do. Meeting these Scottish characters is like sitting down to share a cup of coffee with a group of friends. Normally, the tangents some of these characters take would feel irrelevant and make me feel rather impatient, but I was willing to ramble anywhere in the city and cov ...more
Julie  Durnell
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england-uk
Wow-was I surprised how much I liked this book, my first of any of his series. I was hooked very early on, and alternated between cheering a character on and shaking my head at them. The whimsical illustrations are nice too! I definitely will go on to book 2 of the Scotland Street series (and sooner rather than later), but will I engage just as much with the characters of that book.....
Ivonne Rovira
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith had already created two incredibly diverse series — one with Mma Precious Ramotswe, the intuitive and clever Botswanan detective who debuted in the novel The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and philosopher Isabel Dalhousie of The Sunday Philosophy Club series — when a chance meeting with Armistead Maupin gave us 44 Scotland Street. Speaking with Maupin, the author of Tales of the City, gave Smith the idea of borrowing the idea of the apartment house in San Francisco and tr ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I was lent this book by a friend who insisted that I read it.

I will be clear up front that this isn’t a book I would have chosen on my own, since I primarily read classics and nonfiction. That said, I do see why my friend liked it. I though it was okay, but no more than that.

It was written as a series of daily excerpts in the newspaper The Scotsman, and this shows. The chapters are very short, seldom as long as three pages. In order to keep the reader interested from day to day, the author felt
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, scotland, icanhaz, uk, 2020
One should be aware of what lays ahead when getting to the books of the likes of Alexander McCall Smith. This guy is so prolific, that one might wonder when is he doing everything that he does.

Well, I kept accumulating (!) his books and decided to attack a series (??) from which I had the most volumes, alas, not consecutively. So, after starting the second book, I jumped the gun and ordered some missing ones, so now I do not have the *complete* collection (I am not sure he stopped writing it!),
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars

I had considered abandoning this after I was 100 pages in and NOTHING had happened yet. I regret my decision to keep reading.

The writing style is fine, but THERE IS NO PLOT. There are a few disjointed stories that end abruptly, with no resolution to anything. I suppose this leaves plenty of material for the next book in the series, but I will not be reading it.
Aug 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
I've heard and read so many positive reviews of Alexander McCall Smith's novels that when I saw this one at the local library I checked it out. I wanted a change of pace and tone after finishing a somber, difficult to read novel.

I wasn't taken immediately by this novel, almost abandoning it, thinking it was a little too cotton-candyish for my taste. I'm glad I kept with it. All the residents of 44 Scotland Street have interesting back stories, and McCall Smith develops each character with an ey
Book Concierge
Audiobook read by Robert Ian Makenzie
Illustrations by Iain McKintosh

From the book jacket: 44 Scotland Street [is] home to some of Edinburgh’s most colorful characters. There’s Pat, a twenty-year-old who has recently moved into a flat with Bruce, an athletic young man with a keen awareness of his own appearance. Their neighbor, Domenica, is an eccentric and insightful widow. In the flat below are Irene and her appealing son Bertie, who is the victim of his mother’s desire for him to learn t
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Originally published as a serialized novel in The Scotsman, 44 Scotland Street is written in third-person omniscient, but shifts focus amongst several tenants in an apartment building at the title address. Overall, the characters were really one-dimensional. Bruce and Irene were particularly painful to read about, as their view of reality was so twisted and neither of them seemed to possess any redeeming qualities. It's as if McCall Smith was studying psychology while writing the series and deci ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Funny that I read this right after reading Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair is a classic that was written as a newspaper serial. I was just thinking about how nobody writes like that anymore when I opened 44 Scotland Street to read in the introduction that the author was chatting up with Amy Tan (name drop!) about that very thing! So his hometown newspaper said to him, "write a serial", and this was it.
I loved it. I keep waffling between giving it 4 or 5 stars because I loved it so much. I loved these
I am so completely charmed by this first book that I just have to read all the rest of this series immediately.

I don't even know what to say except-- go read this book if you want to laugh a lot and chuckle meet so many curious and quirky characters. This book is so witty!
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, library
Delightful series of short pieces about the residents of the titular address in Edinburgh. This was originally written as a serial in The Scotsman, and I love the idea of it! I am excited that there's more, too, because I really need to know what happened to Bertie, and even to the horrible Bruce! ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2021, jan-21
Read for Book Club
It wasn't until I reached the halfway point in this novel that I actually had a vested interest in the characters on Scotland Street. However at that point I had to keep reading to see what would happen to each and every one of them.
I am now looking forward to the next book in the series.
3.5 stars… I was reading 44 Scotland Street before, during and after my short stay in Edinburgh. This was an enjoyable read - entertaining without being too superficial and with well-drawn characters. I liked especially the vibrant description of Edinburgh, and I wrote down one or two names of bookshops and restaurants mentioned in the book. I usually tend to rate these stories rather with 3 stars than 4, as they are not very profound. However, I had such a great time in Edinburgh and this revie ...more
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Alexander McCall-Smith was invited to write a serialized story for an Edinburgh new paper. Each day a short chapter would be published. The author wrote the book as he went along, trying to keep a number of issues ahead. This type of story has interesting consequences. Each chapter needs to be a stand-alone story, worthy of publication. It needs to draw ther reader to buy the next issue of the paper to keep up. Also... there is no going back to change an element in the story once a chapter has b ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reread-soon
Great storytelling and a diverse and interesting cast of characters. I'll be checking out more of this series.
I've read the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by the same author, and it's interesting to note the similarity in style between the two series, even though their settings could not be more different. The internal monologue that the characters have is very deliberate and calculated...while interesting, I do have to say that it feels less than realistic on some characters. I thought th
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of a series (I'm not sure I'll bother listing the rest here) that first appeared, just like a Dickens novel, in a newspaper. Some find the writing episodic, but I have no problem with that. Makes it easy to pick up and put down in small bites.

A saxaphone savant (if not exactly his idea; he's all of about five), a 20-something narcissist obsessed with hair products and uncertain about the undergarment for a kilt, a later-middle aged anthropologist whose widowhood... Well, there
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Alexander McCall Smith, after chatting with Armistead Maupin at a party at Amy Tan's house about serialized novels, undertook to write what is essentially an Edinburgh version of Tales of the City. 44 Scotland Street doesn't have Maupin's very sly wit, sense of zeitgeist and ability to define what is iconic in a place and time, but it's certainly a successful, if light, story of the various young and old tenants of an Edinburgh apartment house and the people in their expanding circles, and nimbl ...more
I am so glad I decided to revisit 44 Scotland Street! A delightful slice of life in Edinburgh a city that I have had the pleasure of visiting. These enchanting tales of the residence of this address gives the reader a glimpse into the hearts and minds of these wonderful characters. Alexander McCall Smith is a favorite writer of mine because he understands human nature and the foibles of his fellow man. What a nice little chuckle you will get when you read of some of the events that take place o ...more
Arpita (BagfullofBooks)
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. I read it in bits and pieces trying to recreate the feel of reading installments of the book ( as in the newspaper column) and this worked well for me.
There were several very interesting, quirky characters whom I am eager to get to know further. The book was very light and had many hilarious moments. Will gladly read more of the series!
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Play Book Tag: 44 Scotland Street / Alexander McCall Smith - 3.5*** 1 18 Apr 07, 2017 08:43AM  

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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)
  • 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)
  • 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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