The Bertie Project – The Horror Is Back, But You Knew It Had To Happen

Book Review : The Bertie Project
44 Scotland Street novel

By Alexander McCall Smith

Spoiler Alert!



Once more, we catch up with the delightful goings-on in the fictitious 44 Scotland Street from Alexander McCall Smith . . .

Bertie’s respite from his overbearing mother, Irene, is over. She has returned from the middle-east, only to discover that her son has been exposed to the worst evils of cartoons, movies and Irn Bru, and her wrath falls upon her unfortunate husband, Stuart. Meanwhile, Bruce has fallen in love with someone other than himself; Big Lou wants to adopt her beloved Finlay; Matthew and Elspeth host the Duke of Johannesburg for supper and Bertie decides he wants to move out of Scotland Street altogether and live with his grandmother, Nicola.

Can Irene and Stuart’s marriage survive? Will Bruce’s newfound love last? And will Bertie really leave Scotland Street? Find out in the next installment of this charming, beloved series.  (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Alas, Irene was not permanently ensconced in a harem, she was not eaten by crocodiles on the Nile, she was not eradicated from Bertie’s life in any way. We all knew “The Horror” had to return because our love for Bertie stems from our outrage over his mother.

The Bertie Project has some pithy life lessons for everyone:

1- No one needs a fascist for a mother
2- Even liars tell the truth sometimes (though universally true, Olive takes the cake)
3- Caution should be exercised when hiring a nanny who is into extreme sports
3.5- Caution should be used when hiring anyone recommended by Bruce
4- Caution should prevail when expected to wear hipster pajamas
5- Nudists in Scotland are exposed to more than others would expect
6- Poetry truly can change your world, but a change for the best is debatable
7- There is love in the world; love of country, love of others and love of self
8- The proper use for the word defenestration
9- Some people like camping
10- Bertie’s dreams of being a penknife owner are far in the future

In reference to number 9 on the list, here is a quote:

“And there were people who liked sleeping in uncomfortable, constricting sleeping bags – not infrequently made out of some sort of nylon – under canvas roof that could not be trusted to keep the rain out entirely; who liked communal ablution blocks shared with total strangers, with showers that dribbled lukewarm water; who liked the feeling of being not-quite-clean, a target for midges and mosquitoes, and other unidentifiable agents of itchiness.” (p.58)

As a note there was nothing about Pat in this installment, if she is one of your favorite characters you will be disappointed. There is never enough about Bertie, my personal favorite. As is the McCall way, the plot meanders with no particular destination in mind.

I enjoyed The Bertie Project as I have enjoyed all the books with Bertie along with the cast of characters on 44 Scotland Street. Alas, the poor wee Bertie has a difficult situation, but he has the hope of Glasgow.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

If you have enjoyed 44 Scotland Street novels try reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell By Susanna Clarke. It is a completely different style of book, but runs on with tangents and details that are charming. Another great and ponderous book is A Gentleman In Moscow By Amor Towles which I highly recommend. Two final recommendations are A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck and Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.


About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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