Review

Love Over Scotland

by Alexander McCall Smith

When
you step into the pages of a 44 Scotland Street novel, you
enter Edinburgh as prolific novelist Alexander McCall Smith’s
own private guest. McCall Smith’s intimate love affair with
his adopted city peeps through the windows of this fictional
townhouse condominium like a cool Scottish sun on a rare cloudless
day.

LOVE OVER SCOTLAND is the third in the saga of the residents of 44
Scotland Street, and it finds several of its inhabitants from the
first two novels in new digs but maintaining firm ties to the
relationships they first nurtured behind those doors.

Still in residence is the six-year-old child prodigy Bertie, whose
saxophone jazz riffs waft up the stairwells and through the heating
vents to the other residents. His absent-minded father --- having
lost, or mislaid, the family car again --- inadvertently introduces
his family and some of the other main characters to Lard
O’Connor, a Glasgow businessman of uncertain means.
O’Connor’s influence does not stop with Bertie’s
father, however, as Big Lou, the owner of the corner coffeehouse,
encounters problems with her boyfriend. Meanwhile, under the
guidance of his insufferable mother, Bertie finds himself heading
off to Paris with a student orchestra only to end up buskering for
Euros on a Paris West Bank street corner when the field trip goes
awry.

Anthropologist Domenica has flown off to the Malacca Straits to
study pirates of the Far East, subletting her Scotland Street flat
to a novelist friend, Antonia. She has also left her old friend,
Angus Lordie, and his philosophical dog, Cyril, to Angelica in
hopes they will entertain one another while she develops her
theories on modern pirates on the high seas. Her matchmaking skills
are tested as the two meet in a disastrous dinner for two. Domenica
puts to good use her knowledge of Pidgin English on an adventure
with an aging pirate off the Sumatran coast.

Meanwhile, Cyril provides a comedic voice to the story with his wry
comments on the potential tenderness of the ankles he observes in
passing, particularly those of the denizens of a local pub, where
he is treated to his bowl of Guinness and the occasional chip.
Tethered to a fence rail outside an upscale delicatessen where his
gobbling of a salami has left him persona non gratis, Cyril is
kidnapped and escapes in an unsavory part of Edinburgh, leaving
poor Angus to look inward darkly at his lonely life.

The townhouse’s professional student, Pat, has moved out of
Number 44 due to personal entanglements with the rakish Bruce, only
to find an even more distressing situation with her new female
roommate. Thus she finds herself moving in with her shy and
bumbling boss from the art gallery, Matthew, and she begins to
discover just how complicated relationships can make one’s
life, especially when young and beautiful. Matthew, meanwhile, has
come into a handsome inheritance that leaves him quite wealthy, but
no more or less cultured, well dressed and sophisticated than the
starving art store owner he’s always been. He also discovers
that having money isn’t the solution to problems, either his
own or of others.

Alexander McCall Smith’s gentle satire and congenial voice
bring us many smiles and the occasional chuckle as he weaves his
storytelling net to enfold each of these memorable
characters.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 7, 2011

Love Over Scotland
by Alexander McCall Smith

  • Publication Date: November 6, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • ISBN-10: 0307275981
  • ISBN-13: 9780307275981