Penulis/Author: Alexander McCall Smith (2005)
Cetakan/Edition: Hardback, 2005
I bought the book back in January 2006 and never really had the chance to read it until recently, following the urgency to empty my bookcase. Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the famous Bostwana Ladies’ Datective Agency and a few other well-sold series, some of which I have on my bookshelves although none has been completely read :).
What’s special about this novel? Apart from the glossy red jacket and smartly designed cover, this novel has been published as a daily novel in Edinburgh newspaper: The Scotsman. Sort of a mini series, I suppose, because the characters are consistent although they’re not necessarily appear in each chapter, and there’s no particular stories inside that demand closures.
Fourty-four Scotland Street is a (fictional) building flats situated on Edinburgh New Town area. The story is about the people who live in the building, namely Bruce, a metrosexual surveyor who enjoys looking at his reflection in the mirror; his new flatmate Pat, a 21 year old girl on her second gap year learning to be more independent; Domenica, an intellectual lady with caramel colour Mercedes who lives the opposite to Bertie’s family; and Bertie, a talented 5 year old boy who plays saxophone and speaks Italian, thanks to the pressure from his control freak mother, Irene. Other than that, there are people from their social contacts and some public figures.
As a daily novel, it would come up as interesting because it has the advantage of keeping the readers away from the next chapter thus teasing their curiosity. Another thing is, since it is about day-to-day activities and characters that represent the Edinburgh’s New Town society, the newspaper readers may find this amusing due to the familiarity. As a complete book, however, I found the story to be lacks of direction and connection.
The strength of the novel is actually on its characters and the way Mr McCall Smith represents them so that the readers could, more or less, have a solid imagination how these people look like in reality. The way Mr. McCall Smith depicts the hypocrisy in some of the characters is also natural and definitely fun to read. Brilliant exposure without being judgemental! My favourites are Todd with his snobbish denial and political crap, and the boy Bertie with his personality complex. Pat, Domenica & Angus’ evening adventure inside the tunnel is also entertaining, it actually reminds me of the Famous Five mission :). These made it even over the other parts of the story that went rather flat. The novel continues with “Espresso Tales” and “Love Over Scotland”.