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The Importance of Being Seven
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Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. For many years he was a professor of Medical Law, then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has sold over fifteen million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, and the Von Igelfeld series.

About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. For many years he was a professor of Medical Law, then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has sold over fifteen million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, and the Von Igelfeld series.

Reviews

With the arrival of the sixth novel (after Bertie Plays the Blues) in his 44 Scotland Street series, McCall Smith again shows his mastery of light comedy. The residents of 44 Scotland Street are quickly introduced: art dealer Matthew and his new bride, Elspeth; Irene Pollock, husband Stuart, precocious son Bertie, and pretentiously named baby Ulysses; painter Angus Lordie (and his faithful, heroic dog, Cyril); the "private scholar" and freelance anthropologist Domenica Macdonald; plus other, minor characters, notably the philosophizing cafe proprietress Big Lou. The plot lines are many: Elspeth's pregnancy; Angus and Domenica might be falling in love; and Bertie, approaching the titular important age, needs to feel like a boy, though his monstrous but well-meaning mother is too busy introducing him to the poetry of W.H. Auden and creating Oedipal issues. McCall's brilliance lies in his ability to juggle so much in a way that feels seamless, even if the narrative arcs themselves tend to the fanciful. The drama may be slight, but what pulls the reader in is the good natures of (almost) all the characters and McCall's uncanny ability to see their world as they do, and to render their worries, pleasures, and musings with charm, grace, and geniality. Agent: Robin Straus. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Originally serialized in the Scotsman, this latest novel from Smith (The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency) revolves around the inhabitants of an Edinburgh apartment house. The newest resident is 20-year-old Pat, who rents a room from the slightly older and irresistibly handsome Bruce. Pat's eccentric neighbors include Dominica, an artsy and wise widow; Bertie, a five-year-old saxophone player; and Bertie's overbearing mother, Irene. In order to make ends meet, Pat takes a job as a receptionist at a nearby art gallery. Her boss is the ineffectual Matthew, whose father owns the gallery. When Pat gets a hunch that one of the gallery's paintings might be valuable, and then the piece of work goes missing, the action takes off. Other storylines include Bruce struggling over an appropriate career path and conflicted Bertie undergoing therapy. The novel is made up of several short chapters that leave the reader wondering what will happen next. This, along with McCall Smith's insightful and comic observations, makes for an amusing and absorbing look at Edinburgh society. Recommended for most popular fiction collections. [See also Smith's In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, reviewed in Mystery on p. 69.-Ed.]-Karen Core, Kent District Lib., Grand Rapids, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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