Sunday, May 16, 2010

44 Scotland Street - Alexander McCall Smith (44 Scotland Street Series #1)

One of my favorite series of all time is Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, which takes place in San Francisco and explores the lives of eccentric friends on Telegraph Hill. Alexander McCall Smith, who must be the world's most prolific writer, is on his way to creating his own world of memorable characters in Maupin's style with 44 Scotland Street, set in Edinburgh originally published as a serial for a Scottish paper. The novel features Pat, a 20-year old in her second gap year, who has just moved into a flat at 44 Scotland Street. Two of her roommates are traveling abroad, and the third, Bruce, is a narcissistic real estate agent with whom Pat comes dangerously close to falling in love. She finds a job at a local art gallery, run by the son of a wealthy investor who knows nothing about art, but has been given the gallery to occupy his time. Other notable characters include Pat's elderly neighbor, Domenica, who provides Pat with advice on all things romantic, as well as a pushy mother and her five year old son who speaks Italian, plays the saxaphone, and finds himself in desperate need of therapy. Pat's main storyline involved the accidental loss of a potentially expensive painting. The story itself was a little silly, but provided a good vehicle for interaction among the various characters and an introduction to the wonderful world of 44 Scotland Street, which continues in Espresso Tales - luckily already sitting on my shelves at home.

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