Book Review: Bertie Plays The Blues (Alexander McCall Smith)
The seventh book in the ’44 Scotland Street’ series, and McCall Smith does not disappoint. Beyond all logic and reason (unless you are a regular reader of the author), Bertie is still six years old. An infant prodigy, he continues to struggle with the pressure piled on him by his ever-irritating mother. Irene insists that Bertie develop his linguistic and musical skills. Fluent in Italian and Saxophone, the little boy (six going on eighteen) thinks to himself “I would divorce my mother if I could”. In ‘Bertie Sings The Blues’, he makes a new friend. Ronald Braveheart MacPherson, only slightly older than Bertie Pollock, suggests that they take a trip to Glasgow, search out the Adoption Agency, and find Bertie a new mother.
Mathew and Elspeth, not only struggling to cope with the domestic trials of caring for triplets, have a real problem telling them apart; particularly after Mathew removes the hospital tags from their tiny wrists. To enable him to take paternal leave (from his own business) he re-employs ex-girlfriend Pat. We will have to see how that goes... Pat’s new man in her life (Bruce) is also an ex-man in her life. He gets involved when Elspeth declares that she wants to return to their old flat where she had been happy before the three boys came along. Mathew discovers that Bruce had purchased their old property surreptitiously, using someone else to pretend to buy it as a front for one of Bruce’s property deals.
Angus Lordie and Domencia continue with their engagement, but the road to true love (and the wedding) becomes rockier when an old flame returns to Domenica’s life. Her friend and neighbour, Antonia, is still living in a nunnery and makes some decisions that impact on both Domenica and Angus. Isn’t life complicated?
Bertie’s father, the downtrodden Stuart, has issues of his own. Joining a secret society (mainly to get away from Irene, it has to be said), with funny handshakes, strange ceremonies and male bonding, must be kept secret from her indoors. However, Stuart forgot to take into account the enduring integrity and honesty of his little boy, six-year-old Bertie.