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44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street Series, Book 1) Paperback – June 14, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: 44 Scotland Street
  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (June 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400079446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400079445
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Like Smith's bestselling Botswana mysteries, this book—comprising 110 sections, originally serialized in the Scotsman, that drolly chronicle the lives of residents in an Edinburgh boarding house—is episodic, amusing and peopled with characters both endearing and benignly problematic. Pat, 21, is on her second "gap year" (her first yearlong break from her studies was such a flop she refuses to discuss it), employed at a minor art gallery and newly settled at the eponymous address, where she admires vain flatmate Bruce and befriends neighbor Domenica. A low-level mystery develops about a possibly valuable painting that Pat discovers, proceeds to lose and then finds in the unlikely possession of Ian Rankin, whose bestselling mysteries celebrate the dark side of Edinburgh just as Smith's explore the (mostly) sunny side. The possibility of romance, the ongoing ups and downs of the large, well-drawn cast of characters, the intricate plot and the way Smith nimbly jumps from situation to situation and POV to POV—he was charged, after all, with keeping his newspaper readers both momentarily satisfied and eager for the next installment—works beautifully in book form. No doubt Smith's fans will clamor for more about 44 Scotland Street, and given the author's celebrated productivity, he'll probably give them what they want. Agent, Robin Straus. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Inspired by Armistead Maupin’s serialized San Francisco-based Tales of the City, McCall Smith has successfully incorporated snippets of Bohemian Edinburgh life into 44 Scotland Street. He lends the same insights and sensibilities to these colorful vignettes as he does to his bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, set in Botswana: an understated intelligence, a deep human compassion, and lighthearted romance and mystery. Likeable and quirky characters, from a pushy mother and bookish neighbor to real-life walk-ons, populate the gentle satire. For those who don’t read The Scotsman, not to worry: there’s a second volume in the works.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

Customer Reviews

I didn't hate the book but I couldn't recommend that anyone waste their time reading it, either.
Linda Gregoire
I so enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith's books about the #1 Ladies Detective Agency that I was quite willing to try another sort of book written by him - and I LOVED it!
Maggie Truelove
Alexander McCall Smith has a wonderful way of adding small details to add dimension to his characters, a delightful collection of personalities, warm and wonderful.
Martha B. Blake-adams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Rowe Hill on March 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
I believe I've become addicted to Alexander McCall Smith's writing! Everything I read by him, I thoroughly enjoy. This book is very different than The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie series, and the Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld series. Each has its own character, style and humor. This book is based on a daily newspaper serial, McCall Smith was asked to do after he brought up the subject in an article he wrote in the newspaper, The Herald, in Scotland. As usual, McCall Smith was up to the task and, I believe, is working on another serialized story that will eventually be put into book form.

This book is about the motley crew who inhabit an apartment building on the edge of the Bohemian part of Edinburgh's New Town, 44 Scotland Street. There's Pat, the newest tenant, and from whose point of view the story is told;. Bruce Anderson, the gadabout narcissist who is sure every woman in the world adores him; the Pollack family, little Bertie, age 5, his pushy mother, Irene, and his long-suffering father, Stuart. Then we have wise and free-spirited Domenica Macdonald, a woman in her sixties, and another man, Mr. Syme, who stays to himself and is rarely seen by the others.

Among the storylines are Pat's struggle with her growing attraction to flat mate Bruce, Bertie's acting out resulting from his growing resentment of his mother's efforts to make him grow up way before it's time; and Domenica and Pat's growing friendship. To support herself, Pat takes a job at an art gallery run by a mild-mannered, seemingly ineffectual, rich kid named Matthew, and a series of events unfold involving a painting. My favorite character turned out to be Bertie as he begins to rebel against the pressures brought to bear on him by his parents.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Music and book lover on January 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed '44 Scotland Street' and couldn't put it down. Call it a guilty pleasure, or call it an absorbing glimpse into the lives of a variety of characters. It was like being a fly on the wall, watching Bruce preen in front of the bathroom mirror; I loved to loathe this guy, and how delicious to see him squirm through various situations. Yet even he was well-rounded enough to have some good in him, as you see him being kind to the boss's ugly duckling daughter. Many of these characters, Pat, Angus, Domenica and Matthew, felt like friends to me, probably because each segment was told from the point of view of it's character. Each chapter ended with a small cliffhanger that made you eager to continue to the next segment. If I had been reading this in the newspaper, as originally published, this would have tortured me! I really needed to read on for resolution. Finally, I really enjoyed seeing the little boy prodigy rebel against his horribly pushy mother and try to insist on living a normal life. Hooray for Bertie! And hooray for Alexander McCall Smith! I would rate this book right up there with the Mma Ramotswe books, and am hoping for a sequel soon.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
44 SCOTLAND STREET first appeared in serialization ala Charles Dickens in 110 daily installments in The Scotsman newspaper. Not a book in the ordinary sense of the word, it also is not a mystery, which is what we have become accustomed to expect from Alexander McCall Smith, creator of Mma Ramotswe in THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY series. There is a wee puzzler involving a painting in the art gallery where our heroine, Pat, works. Is it or is it not an undiscovered painting by eighteenth century painter Samuel Peploe? And if it is, how should one go about retrieving it from a charity boutique where it mistakenly found its way through somewhat complicated means? This minor plot leads us to the cast of characters with whom Pat lives, works and socializes as she flies from the family nest to move into the titled address.

On the landing at 44 Scotland Street lives the widowed and widely traveled Domenica, who befriends Pat and fills her in on the rest of the residents: the stunningly handsome but callow Bruce, Pat's flat mate, who is convinced he is the world's most charming and desirable male, and the strange family largely run by the precocious five-year-old Bertie, whose mother is determined to turn him into a child prodigy.

With three successful mystery series under his belt, McCall Smith seems to draw from a bottomless well of quirky, wise and philosophical characters to delight his fans. He has charmed us with THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY series and its protagonist, Precious Ramotswe; confounded us with his redoubtable Professor Dr. Von Igelfeld in the PORTUGUESE IRREGULAR VERBS mysteries; and introduced us to the Scottish-American philosopher Isabel Dalhousie in THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Eric D. Austrew on February 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Alexander McCall Smith has the rare talent of being able to see people as they see themselves. This ensemble book introduces us to many different characters, from a young woman searching for meaning in a life that seems out of control to an accidental philosopher to the hapless head of the Edinburgh Conservative party. Some are deep and interesting characters, others are simple and shallow. But whoever they are, when Smith describes their thoughts and actions even the characters who in the hands of another author would be contemptible are shown to be victims of their own foibles and outlook. That doesn't mean that there are no bad guys; Anyone who has known a lunkhead jock or over-ambitious mother will immediately recognize Bruce and Irene. But no one is a villain in their own mind, and the beauty of these books is that you can almost identify with everyone in them. Almost. Not quite though.

"44 Scotland Street" was actually written as a newspaper serial, something that I haven't personally run into before. It was published in "The Scotsman" in Edinburgh in daily increments, and in the preface Smith points out that one consequence was that once a chapter was written, it could never be revised - it had been published and read already! He also points out that by publishing daily each chapter had to have a point of action, and to give the impression that more events were in the offing. Perhaps it's just my personal preference, but the pace that this forced was very enjoyable. It's not a novel with a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, but it is a book where something happens every chapter.

Smith seems to have enjoyed the experience enough to continue the stories in a second serial, which has now been collected together into "Espresso Tales". I for one definitely plan to buy it.
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