By Alexander McCall Smith Genre: Fiction
Reviewed by Natalie 4/5 stars
44 Scotland Street is the first of nine serial novels originally published in The Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper. Alexander McCall Smith tells the stories of the residents at 44 Scotland Street and mixes humor, mystery, and romance as the characters experience adventure, or misadventure in some instances. The central character throughout the series is Bertie, (first introduced at the age of five) an extremely intelligent child, who is subjected to his domineering mother Irene and her plans for his life. Smith has a soft spot for him though, and Bertie does gain a form of independence, although not without some mishaps along the way.
If I had to use one word to describe this series, it would be “delightful.” The pace is leisurely but still allows for suspense and mild mystery. These are the books you want to read to cheer you up. And if you’re obsessed (like me) with Scotland and Edinburgh in particular, you’ll enjoy learning a bit about the city and its quirks. So make a hot beverage (see my recommendation below!), find a cozy chair, and grab the first novel in the 44 Scotland Street series.
I’m always fascinated by the history of an author: where he’s from and why he’s a writer. The sheer volume of his works is not the only impressive part of his biography. Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 100 books, including the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, making him one of the most prolific writers of our time. But he has had a dual career both as writer and as Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, where he now holds the title Professor Emeritus. He has even used his expertise to set up a law school at the University of Botswana. His ability to publish a novel a year is the result of averaging writing 4,000 words a day (sometimes even 1,000 words an hour!). Given the breadth of his writing (and our prodigious love of it), we’ll be reviewing a few of his more recent novels next week.
Earl Grey Tea Latte Recipe
- 1 Earl Grey tea bag (your favorite brand)
- ¾ C boiling water
- ¾ C milk (coconut and almond milk work well as non-dairy alternatives)
- ½ to 1 Tbsp of honey
- Dash of cinnamon
Pour boiling water over tea bag in your mug. Let steep for 2 to 3 minutes, up to 5 minutes if you like strong tea. Remove the tea bag.
Add milk to a small saucepan over medium heat until steaming, being careful not to boil the milk (otherwise known as “scalding” the milk). Add the milk to the mug and stir in the honey. (I have one of these handy IKEA milk frothers to make my latte look coffee-shop quality, but it’s not necessary.) Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!
For a perfect pairing, also try this authentic Scottish shortbread recipe.
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