It was a chance encounter with Armistead Maupin (of Tales of the City fame) in San Francisco which inspired Alexander McCall Smith to write his daily novel about the residents of 44 Scotland Street, a fictitious building in a real street in the author's home town of Edinburgh. With its multiple-occupancy flats, Scotland Street is an interesting ...
It was a chance encounter with Armistead Maupin (of Tales of the City fame) in San Francisco which inspired Alexander McCall Smith to write his daily novel about the residents of 44 Scotland Street, a fictitious building in a real street in the author's home town of Edinburgh. With its multiple-occupancy flats, Scotland Street is an interesting corner of the city, verging on the Bohemian, where haute bourgeoisie rub shoulders with students and the more colourful members of the intelligentsia. The comings and goings at 44 Scotland Street first made their way into print in The Scotsman newspaper in the first half of 2004. Espresso Tales features further escapades from the fringes of the New Town which appeared in The Scotsman during 2005. This new novel gives Scotland Street aficionados a chance to catch up with the occupants of what must surely be Edinburgh's most well-known literary address, and to meet more of the inhabitants of this unique corner of the city. Espresso Tales is vintage McCall Smith, tackling issues of trust and honesty, snobbery and hypocrisy, love and loss, but all with great lightness of touch. Clever, elegant and funny, this is a novel that provides huge entertainment but which is underpinned by the moral dilemmas of everyday life and the characters' struggles to resolve them.
Espresso Tales is book 2 of the 44 Scotland Street seires. It was chosen as "stand alone" read for my book club and frankly, I think it can still hold its own without reading the first one. How would I describe it? A charming, Scottish Soap Opera. AMS's prose is light and swift without too many vernacular phrases so that even an American such as myself may understand. I would call this a good "cappucino" type book (in keeping with the coffee theme).
Nov 23, 2007
Good to the last drop
If you liked 44 Scotland Street, you'll love Espresso Tales. All of your favorite characters are back, plus a few you'll want to meet. Alexander McCall Smith has the gift of portraying everyday people doing everyday things and making us like them. The "newspaper serial" format is perfect for these stories. You can read a quick three pages and walk away wanting more. (Just kidding...I've never been able to stop after one installment!) While you're buying, you might as well go ahead and order Love Over Scotland, since you'll be wanting to read it, too. (For fans of the other Alexander McCall Smith series: These characters are just as endearing and irresistable as Precious, Grace, JLB Matekoni, and/or Isabel. Take the plunge!)
Publishers Weekly, 2006-09-04 McCall Smith is such a prolific author that he needs at least three readers to keep up with him. The series that transpire in Scotland have two performers. Davina Porter narrates the Sunday Philosophy Club series while Mackenzie performs the series about 44 Scotland Street. Porter is the better performer as she catches the various cadences of Edinburgh's middle class. Mackenzie's characters sound pretty much alike in terms of their accents, with the exception of Angus's hearty brogue. Its also annoying that some of the women are given the same tiny voices used for a six-year-old genius. Best is Mackenzie's over-the-top enactment of Lard, a Glaswegian gangster and his cohorts with their barely comprehensible street slang and thick accents. The major problem with this production is the lugubrious pace of the narration. Although Espresso Tales is the second book in a series, the audio helpfully provides two summaries of characters and events at the beginning. Despite the reader's lack of pep, the author's sly, gentle humor shines through and makes this audio charming and engaging. Simultaneous release with the Anchor paperback (Reviews, May 22). (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2006-05-22 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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