‘The Bertie Project’ (44 Scotland Street #11) and ‘A Time of Love and Tartan’ (44 Scotland Street #12) by Alexander McCall Smith







“Sometimes we need to escape the world, sometimes we need desperately to engage with it. The magic of books is that we can do both through them, with nary an extra calorie or hangover to show for it.” Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

I’ve been  “binge reading” again and playing catchup with the last two instalments of Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series!

Why do we love series so much and why are they good for us, especially for kids? Here’s some reasons: 1) familiarity and the joy of already knowing some of the characters and the excitement of finding out what happens next,  2) ease of choice about what to read,  3) positive reinforcement and a sense of accomplishment, 4) momentum because we tend to gobble them up and read them quickly. It’s all of the same reasons we binge watch TV shows.

Probably best know for the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective series, McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series is about the residents of a fictitious apartment building on a real street in Edinburgh. Check out the author’s website for complete book lists. What I love about McCall Smith is his sense of humour, his musings about moral decisions, and his presentation of everyday sorts of problems to solve. After hearing him speak a number of times in the UK, I can imagine him chortling as he drafts another character’s dilemma.

The Bertie Project (11) deals with some darker topics such as tragic accidents and infidelity. Elspeth struggles to find help with her rambunctious triplets, Bruce’s latest girlfriend has a dangerous interest in extreme sports, and poor seven year old Bertie and his father Stuart continue to be under the thumb of their overbearing mother and wife. Irene used to be amusingly awful but now she has become insufferable.

A Time of Love and Tartan (12) brings some things to a satisfying conclusion and leaves others hanging–of course that’s life isn’t it? There’s a slapstick scene involving Matthew and the police over a misunderstanding in a bookstore, oddly Pat reveals she still has feelings for that narcissist Bruce, Elspeth finds a solution for her triplets that seems too good to be true,  and I can say that at least there is finally some hope and joy for Bertie and Stuart!

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