Book Review: Bertie Plays the Blues
by Alexander McCall Smith
Domestic bliss seems in short supply at 44 Scotland Street. Over at the Pollocks, dad, Stuart, is harbouring a secret about a secret society and Bertie is feeling kind of blue. Having had enough of his neurotic hot-housing mother, he puts himself up for adoption on eBay. Will he go to the highest bidder or will he have to take matters into his own hands? Will the lovelorn Big Lou find true love on the internet? And will Angus Lordie and Domenica make it up the aisle? (courtesy of Goodreads)
Adult Point of View
I am completely charmed by Bertie, and horrified by his mother and father! I commend Smith for creating a character that fans love, adore and hope for him to find a better life. To create a character that feels so real and elicits the sympathy of readers is quite a feat and in this case a cash cow because I would buy any book that includes Bertie. I know I am not alone in this adoration of the perpetually frustrated and charming young boy.
There are other characters in 44 Scotland Street series that I also elicit strong reactions. I shudder every time Bruce enters the scene, feel perplexed over Pat, wish for the best for Big Lou (such a great kind hearted soul, let’s all hope she finds love), feel bemused by Matthew and often surprised by Domenica and tolerently amused by Angus and Cyril.
There are scenes in the series that have stayed with me and I will suddenly recollect when something in real life jars my memory. The disappointing nudist picnic that was rained upon forcing everyone to wear ponchos is one of those funny moments. Another would be when Bertie asks Stewart about the number of gears on the car that was returned to them from Lard O’Conner in Glasgow. What child would put themselves up for adoption on ebay, a child with Irene as a mother – that’s who!
I love the deceptively simple writing and the poignant moments that Smith creates. I also love that nothing too terrible happens in this series. It’s nice to know I can depend on the 44 Scotland Street series to be charming, delightful and fun.
Thank you Mr. Smith!