Monday, June 29, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones

The Fifth of the 44 Scotland Street novels by Alexander McCall Smith, this volume does not disappoint. It is as comfortable and reassuring as I have come to expect of AMC's Edinburgh books. One of my quibbles with AMC has been that he has a tendency to show off his prodigious knowledge and obviously considerable intellect in some of his novels with no apparent reason other than to show that he has that knowledge. In other words there appears sometimes to be no benefit to the novel of the inclusion of the information. I think that that has been remedied in this volume. Either that or I've just got used to it!

Most of the characters will be familiar to readers of previous novels in the series but we do learn more about the Jacobite Pretender - a rather fanciful and unnecessary incursion in my view but then Big Lou has to have some disaster in her relationships. Come to think of it that seems to be all she has in her relationships.

Bruce is back too. Can he possibly be a reformed character?

One thing that AMS's characters have on the whole is goodness. Even the villain, Lard O'Connor, is a likable gangster. ' A gangster?' I hear you ask. Yes. Really. A very useful one too.

It is that essence of goodness which brings out the serious side of AMS. He is somewhat of a believer in the role of goodness in life. I was going to say 'moralist' but I'm not sure that he is quite that.

The best way to form an opinion is to read the books. You don't just have to have a knowledge and love of Edinburgh to love these books. I have to ration myself. I have a great temptation to go and buy all the remaining ones and devour them one after the other.

If you can feel miserable after reading one of these books then I will be completely overcome with surprise. I was going to throw down a challenge but it all got too complicated.

She [Agatha Christie] said that an archaeological husband was an ideal husband as the older the wife became the more interested he would be in her.

Angus smiled. the moral energy, the disapproval, that had fuelled Scotland's earlier bouts of over-enthusiastic religious intolerance were still with us, as they were with any society. It wore a different cloth, he thought, and was present now in the desire to prevent people from doing anything risky or thinking unapproved thoughts.

And a coffee cup, as we all know, is not something that it pays to look into if one is searching for meaning; coffee, in all its forms looks murky, and gives little comfort to one who hopes to see something in it. Unlike tea, which allows one to glimpse something of what lies beneath the surface, usually more tea.

And here he [Mathew] was in the sharks' element utterly at their mercy - although mercy was not a concept one associated with sharks.

They prevent people from being who they are; they forbid them to express themselves in the name of preventing offence. Cyril's offensive to cats, but is he to stop being a dog?

I might as well have written those words on water.

Moisturiser and a good cry: two things for modern man to think about.

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