Top positive review
Marvelous new book in the series...
Reviewed in the United States on January 23, 2016
Lucky Bertie Pollock. He's just turned seven years old in "The Revolving Door of Life", Alexander McCall Smith's latest novel in his "44 Scotland Street" series. Bertie's mother, Irene - possibly one of the worst mothers in modern literature - has been taken by mistake into a Bedouin harem while visiting the Gulf states. For the first time in his short life, Bertie doesn't have Irene bossing him around and not letting him have any fun at all. He's had to wear pink pants to show his solidarity for gender issues, and he's not allowed to play with boys. All Bertie wants is to play with boys, wear a kilt, and have a Swiss Army knife. Now, maybe he's too young for the knife, but he knows what he wants. Bertie's father - the hapless Stuart married to the awful Irene - can't stand up to her. But while she's "away" in the Middle East, Bertie, his baby brother, and Stuart are under the care of Stuart's mother, Nicola, who has come to Edinburgh to take care of the three guys. Suddenly Bertie gets a kilt, pizza, and boy friends to play with. But can it last?
Bertie and his family are just two of the many characters in Smith's Edinburgh stories. A bit like American author Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series, which center around the eccentric occupants of an apartment building in San Francisco, Smith's books also feature a cast of characters. A bit less eccentric than Maupin's crew, Smith's characters are a charming lot of artists and dealers, coffee shop owners, dogs, a Duke-who-possibly-isn't-REALLY-a-duke, and, of course, Bertie Pollock and the dreadful Irene. This latest book - the 10th in the Scotland series - is less plot-centric and more character-centered. Oh, things happen but they are relatively minor things, and the reader concentrates more on the characters.
One of the best things about series books is the chance to return to old friends and catch up on their lives. This is only the second Smith book I've read but I'm surely returning for #11! I want to know what happens to Bertie, and all the others I've become enamoured with in only two books.