Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers: A 44 Scotland Street Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
As summer blooms in Edinburgh's gardens, and Bertie Pollock's birthday appears on the horizon, all at 44 Scotland Street is not cake and sunshine. Newlywed Angus Lordie has been booked by his bride into what he must not call the loony bin; Bruce’s first encounter with hot wax brings more anguish than he bargained for; and Bertie's birthday dreams of scout camp and a penknife look set to be replaced by a game of Royal Weddings and a gender-neutral doll. But fate, an amorous Bedouin, and the Dubai Tourist Authority conspire to transport Bertie's mother, Irene, to a warmer--if not a better--place, and once again on Scotland Street the triumph of human kindness over adversity gives cause for celebration.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 46 minutes|
|Author||Alexander McCall Smith|
|Narrator||Robert Ian Mackenzie|
|Audible.com Release Date||February 17, 2015|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #32,094 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#93 in Urban Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#106 in Satire Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#421 in Humorous Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
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And besides that, I have totally lost interest in all the charavters but Bertie. All I want to know is that Irene gets her cumuppence and Bertie gets a normal life. Anything else is now negligible.
Bertie is exceptionally gifted (speaks Italian, plays the saxophone, reads and understands newspapers. Unfortunately he is also gifted with a crazy mother, Irene whose distorted take on feminism makes her determined to bring up Bertie as 'gender neutral';
whereas Bertie himself much prefers to be treated like other boys, e.g., he wants a Swiss army penknife for his birthday. And what of Bertie's father Stuart. He's on Bertie's side of course but one wonders how he and Irene got together in the first place. I guess we will never find out: it's in the past but the future is yours to find out - by reading the book!
The cast of characters is much as before with a few newcomers to like or dislike as you wish, and the style of writing is as pleasantly fluid as it has always been but when one thread in the novel disappears over the precipice into wild implausibility I only continued reading because it occurs so far into the novel that I wanted to discover what happens in other threads.
Bertie Pollock is, of course, the main focal point as he turns 7. His birthday does not start well when his domineering mother, the awful Irene, gives him unwished for presents when all he really wants is a Swiss army penknife and to go to a Scout camp. Then Irene wins a prize in a slogan-writing competition and flies at short notice to Dubai for a 5-day holiday. What happens on her flight and in the emirate is so ridiculously unbelievable that it spoils the whole novel for me. That episode then made me question other aspects of the book.
- Narcissistic Bruce is granted two chapters. What happens to him should have been taken further but isn't.
- Cyril, Angus Lordie's lovely dog, is still there. AMS intuitively understands dogs and their owners but after a run-in with an animal welfare officer in
a pub, again, there is scope to take it further, but the author doesn't except to say, later on, that the matter isn't taken further!
- Possibly the most baffling episode in the book is the account, over two chapters, of a special meeting of The Association of Scottish Nudists. This
body has, from memory, been mentioned in a previous novel, but here it is set down like an alien on Earth. It has no connection with any other part
of the book -other than it is set in Edinburgh- and only one person is mentioned by name. That name also has no connection, as far as I can see,
with anyone else named in the novel.
- Finally, one of the new characters is an Italian nun who rejoices in the name Sister Maria-Fiore dei Fiore di Montagna. She is given her full name
throughout and that starts to grate. In the "Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, Mr J L B Matekone is always referred to in that manner and
that works well but when the device is extended here it doesn't in my view. It's a syllable, or perhaps 7 or 8 syllables, too far.
In an earlier novel in the series, Irene admits that, perhaps, her method of bringing up Bertie had been wrong so I had the impression at the time that, that is where the series was going to end but, no, it continued. Did his many fans or his publisher persuade him to carry on? I have the feeling that, in this case, Mr McCall Smith was under pressure from having to meet contractual deadlines.
I stopped reading his "Isabel Dalhousie" series of novels a while ago because I tired of characters such as Isabel taking a page or more in deciding, for example, that "Good Morning" was the appropriate thing to say to that person at that time. Unless I can be persuaded otherwise I won't be buying any more of the "44 Scotland Street" series.