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Espresso Tales Paperback – July 11, 2006


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Espresso Tales + 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street Series, Book 1) + Love Over Scotland: A 44 Scotland Street Novel (3)
Price for all three: $36.94

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (July 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307275973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307275974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Once again McCall Smith fixes his telescope on the windows of 44 Scotland Street, the converted Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh that provided the title for his previous novel and initiated this latest series. This time out, perhaps Bertie, the gifted five-and-three-quarter-year-old, will be allowed to have the normal boyhood envisioned by his father, Stuart, and go trout fishing instead of taking yoga and Italian lessons in the "ungendered" life designed by his mother, Irene. But maybe trout fishing will turn out to be less than idyllic. McCall Smith delivers plenty of twists and turns as he skewers the puffery, the pretense, the tedium and self-defeating moves in his characters' daily lives. He also forgives them their weaknesses and bathes them in love. Take Ramsey Dubarton, who puts his wife, Betty, to sleep by reading her installments of his memoirs: Betty dozes and the reader laughs—with real admiration for his opacity. As ever, McCall Smith's pacing is impeccable: moving his focus from one character to another seamlessly, dropping in just the right amount of description, keeping the talk light and sharp. Fans of this new series, here served with plenty of java, will be buzzed to know that a third volume is in the making. (July 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This is the second volume of a serial novel that the author has been publishing in The Scotsman about a group of loosely connected people living in present-day Edinburgh. The most interesting character for teen readers is Bertie Pollock, a precocious six-year-old who is being forced by his mother to study Italian, play the saxophone, take yoga, and endure psychoanalysis because of his understandable rebellion against her efforts to prevent him from being an ordinary boy. Bertie and his father grow closer and eventually assert their independence. Mrs. Pollock, meanwhile, has her own moments of revelation as she discovers that the analyst is not as perfect as she thought. The other stories revolve around a coffee-shop owner and some of her patrons and the residents of 44 Scotland Street, who were the subjects of the first book. Many of the characters are strikingly flawed, but McCall Smith eventually finds some redeeming, human side to them. He examines Scottish culture, from would-be art and wine dealers to raincoat-wearing nudists and members of the Scottish mafia. The relationships among the characters grow in unexpected and touching ways. The author has a critical yet forgiving eye for human failings. This novel is a prose poem about the small things in life that are being threatened by globalization and mass entertainment.–Will Marston, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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

If you liked 44 Scotland Street, you will also enjoy this next book in McCall Smith's series.
Gen of North Coast Gardening
The stories are quirky and funny and full of Alexander McCall Smith's usual wise (and never cliche) observations about humanity.
MaryJ44319
This story was a fun, easy read with lots of good character development and interest to keep the pages turning.
Beeb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Miami Bob on September 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Once again, McCall Smith takes us to visit with the 44 Scotland Street neighborhood. This time, we learn much more about Bertie - the extremely precocious 6-year old - and his conflicts with his incredibly clingy mother Irene. And, we actually hear his father speak up and do something other than read the newspaper. The meetings with Bertie's psychiatrist are again entertaining as is the doctor's attempt to reach catharsis with his most famous patient.

And, we hear Domenica speak about globalization. Matthew shows us he can do something right, and then we meet his father and his potential nuptial mate. Cyrus' dog bites the people who deserve it. Cyrus gives a great party at the end. Pat, after two gap years, decides to attend university. Bruce as a failed person fails in business - or does he? And more.

But, McCall Smith tells us he wrote this book to find closure from the previous book "44 Scotland Street." Here he failed. And, failed miserably. And, thank our lucky stars he is such a failure.

This group of eccentrics is fast making books which rival his beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. At the end, we ask for more. What is going to happen to Domenica in her quest to seek pirates? Or, what will happen to Bruce in London? Or, how is Pat going to handle her first year at university after not one, but two, gap years? And, will Matthew accept his father's new bride, if there is to even be one?

If you are thinking of reading this book, do so. But, I highly recommend that you first read "44 Scotland Street" so as to acquaint yourself to the characters and their surroundings.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bearette24 VINE VOICE on August 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed Espresso Tales, Alexander McCall Smith's followup to 44 Scotland Street...and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, which he is now writing.

I thought 44 Scotland Street was weakened a little by the sheer number of characters, but here the focus seemed tighter. We get to reunite with Bertie, the boy genius who just wants to be a regular kid; Bruce, the indefatigable narcissist; Pat, the understated gallery worker/college student; Matthew, who has now made a profit at the gallery, and has his gentle eye on Pat; Domenica, the sharp-tongued elderly woman who may be a porteparole for McCall Smith himself; and Angus, the eccentric painter whose dog, Cyril, gets a charming chapter of his own.

Everything that happened to these characters just seemed right, and it was such an enjoyable ride.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By StdPudel VINE VOICE on October 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Espresso Tales is the sequel to 44 Scotland Street, featuring the inhabitants of a multifamily house at that address in Edinburgh, Scotland. The form of both books is rambling and linear, forgivably so in this case as they were originally released in serial form in the Scotsman newspaper.

In 44 Scotland Street, the main character was clearly Pat, a college-age young woman who was a little adrift in her life. Her encounters with her neighbors and at work formed the context for the stories in the book. In Espresso Tales, Pat is much less the main character. The book's focus shifts aimlessly between Pat, Bertie, the gifted kindergartener and his family, and other characters. Pat and Bertie's stories engage me more than others and I was impatient at times waiting for their turn in the spotlight.

A great part of the charm derives from the immense amount of detail provided of daily life in Edinburgh. This information is provided not in an encyclopedic way but in loving detail the way a portrait miniature would be painted. The characters are "types", but not stereotypes. Big Lou, the rough-spoken woman who runs the coffee shop has been reading philosophy on her own, and bristles when her intellectual customers patronize her. Not only does she "ken well" who Sisyphus was, she's read the Camus book about him, which is more than her educated customer can say.

If you enjoy Scotland, or enjoy the gentle charm of McCall Smith's writing, you'll enjoy this series. But start with 44 Scotland Street or you'll have trouble catching up.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mccall Smith is truly amazing. He has at least four book series going and all contain strikingly original and interesting characters. I happened to like the "Espresso Tales" sequel to "44 Scotland Street" somewhat better than the original. It's got more piquancy and snap and its ironies are sharper and often funnier. The resolutions of Bernie the Kid's painful problems with his yuppie mother and his much hated psychologist are delicious, but there are a host of other comeuppances that Mccall Smith hilariously tosses in here that are wonderful. This is a great airplane read--which is appropriate, since it is said that the author often creates most of these short novels on transatlantic flights of his own.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MaryJ44319 on July 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the second in a series, and if you liked the first, you'll like this one. As with 44 Scotland Street, I found myself laughing out loud in places. The stories are quirky and funny and full of Alexander McCall Smith's usual wise (and never cliche) observations about humanity. In a few places, you get the feeling that the author is pontificating through the voice of one character, Domenica, but Alexander/Domenica are so on target, one doesn't mind. Bertie, the victim of an overbearing and psychologically-confused mother, gets more play in this series (and a bit of justice, finally) as does Ramsey Dunbarton, whose "memoirs" occupy half-a-dozen chapters. Dunbarton manages to be the most unintentionally hilarious character I've ever encountered in a book. You'd never want to be seated next to him at a dinner party, but from the safe perspective of literature, he's a hoot.

Espresso Tales is an apt title, because I've found this series as addictive as caffeine. One of the few books I've run out and purchased the day it hit the stores.

And it was worth the trip.
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