• Michael Braccia

Book Review: The unbearable lightness of scones (Alexander McCall Smith)

Updated: Aug 4, 2019


The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (Alexander McCall Smith)

Another masterpiece from Alexander McCall Smith, continuing to follow the lives of our favourite characters in Scotland Street. Bertie, of course, the perennial six-year-old genius; Mathew, so far unlucky in love; Big Lou with similar problems; Angus and Domenica (they really should get married), and my personal favourite, Cyril the dog. He seems to know that he is a dog, and has a very sophisticated line in dog thought, but he understands few of the words uttered by humans. ‘Walks’ is a good one; he follows that request, and ‘good dog’, although he ignores the word ‘dog’. ‘Good’ will suffice. Cyril has wanted to nip Mathew’s ankles for ages. Maybe this time?

This episode begins with the marriage of Mathew and Elspeth. In the last book, we witnessed love at first sight when Elspeth Harmony drifted into his art gallery and his life, after being suspended for hitting Olive. If you have never read any of the ‘Scotland Street’ stories, none of this will make any sense. Never mind, it’s fun to write about, and maybe you will try the first in the series, ’44 Scotland Street.’

What I like about McCall Smith is his lightness of touch (very much like the scones in Big Lou’s cafe; or maybe not) and the ability he has to push the boundaries of any topic without shocking his readers. Bad language not required – swearing is not particularly clever – but he can suggest that all sorts of things are going on without needing to be graphic in his descriptions. Another triumph for Alexander McCall Smith. I look forward to reading the next one. ‘The importance of being seven.’ I guess that Bertie, finally, has a birthday.

Michael Braccia


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