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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

"The Unbearable Lightness of Scones" by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the fifth book in a series following the lives of characters living in and around 44 Scotland Street. It follows 44 Scotland Street, Espresso Tales, Love Over Scotland, and The World According to Bertie. In this installment:

  • Bertie and Tofu join the cubs, despite being too young, but bossy Olive who claims to be Bertie's girlfriend joins too.
  • Matthew, art gallery owner, and Elspeth who used to be Bertie's teacher get married and go on a honeymoon.
  • Lard O'Connell, Glasgow gangster, has a 'Reaburn' portrait of Rabbie Burns
  • Narcissistic Bruce splits up from his rich girlfriend and is spotted by a photographer as a potential model
  • Big Lou's boyfriend gets involved with a the Jacobite Pretender
  • Domenica steals a teacup
  • Cyril, dog belonging to portrait painter Angus Lordie, fathers six puppies and desires Matthew's ankles.

All of this allows gentle reflections on life. McCall Smith's Edinburgh is so genteel it makes Jane Austen's world look sinister.

Some quotes:

  • "While I'm eating lunch, people like me in Shanghai or Bombay are working - such were the implications of globalisation, that paraquat of simple security." (C 6)
  • "The moral energy, the disapproval, that had fuelled Scotland's earlier bouts of over-enthusiastic religious intolerance were still with us, as they were with any society. It ... was present now in the desire to prevent people from doing anything risky or thinking unapproved thoughts. ... All that moral outrage, that self-righteousness, that urge to lecture and disapprove - it's all still there." (C 6)
  • "The real secret in a still life, he thought, is to give the painting the sense of suppressed energy, if expectation, as if somebody were about to come into the room, to render the still life living" (C 6)
  • "He was not sure why his mother had asked him to sit like a good boy; how exactly did a good boy sit, he wondered, and, perhaps more puzzlingly, how did a bad boy sit?"(C 9)
  • "And we shouldn't deceive ourselves, Bruce thought; every single one of us makes compromises for money." (C 13)
  • "Coffee, in all its forms, looks murky, and gives little comfort to one who seeks to see something in it." (C 15)
  • "The barricades in this life ... are often in the wrong place." (C 20)
  • "That [the nose] gives life to the face, because the nose has energy and direction. Whatever the subject's eyes may be doing ... the nose has business of its own." (C 30)
  • "The architect who had designed these offices was of the school that did not believe in walls, except where utterly necessary to prevent the ceiling from falling down." (C 76)
  • "Angus decided not to argue: Domenica had made up her mind, and he would be the loser in any argument. Women always win, he thought. They just always win." (C 77)

January 2019; 328 pages

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