Superb Blurb: 44 Scotland Street

44 Scotland Street: A 44 Scotland Street Novel (1) by Alexander McCall Smith and Iain McIntosh

Twofer today. Blurb, the first:

Angus Lordie cast his eyes up to the ceiling.  “Those particular churches take a very how shall we put it? — a vey restricted view of the world.  Religion can be full of joy and affirmation, but these characters …” He shuddered. “There used to be a wonderful Afrikaans word to describe the position of rigid ideologues in the Dutch Reformed Church – verkrampte. It’s such an expressive term. Rather like crabbit in Scots. All of these words are tailor-made for some of these Wee Free types. Dark suits. Frowns. Disapproval.”

Blurb, the second:

“Mind you,” she went on, “there are lots of people who say that Florence is ruined. They say that there are now so many visitors that you have to queue more or less all morning to get into the Uffizi in the afternoon. Can you believe that? Standing there with all those Germans and what-not with their backpacks? All morning. No thank you! Ramsey and I just wouldn’t do that.

“But I suppose if you are an Edinburgh schoolgirl and you’re young and fit, then it’s fine to stand about and wait for the Uffizi to open.”

Hat tip: Jill who, to my knowledge, has no blog of her own and so gets this.

Side note: The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is sometimes colloquially known as the “Wee Wee Frees” (not to be confused with the “Wee Frees” which is the colloquial name for another offshoot of the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland).


4 responses to “Superb Blurb: 44 Scotland Street

  1. I’ll own up to the book recommendation, but I lay no claim to the snark of Thayer Avenue. I prefer to retain my own brand of snark, thank you. And it’s much less work to bring the snark to other people’s blogs than to have my own.

    But I’m glad you liked Scotland Street! I do think AMS structures his books mainly as a framework for musings like these–especially his Isabel Dalhousie books, the Sunday Philosophy Club series. It’s natural for a philosopher to go wandering off in her own head, so he’s tweaked this quirk that an editor might might view as an authorial shortcoming and made it into one of the defining traits of his central character.

    All his characters seem to kind of wander off into observations like this about Edinburgh, what it means to be Scottish, about modern life and manners, and of course philosophy, and eventually, a page or two later, another character will interrupt and pull them back. But he manages to do it in a way that’s so lyrical and evocative that you don’t immediately realize you’re being preached to.

    But I’m afraid that if I ever do make it to Edinburgh, I’ll be terribly disappointed when it doesn’t live up to his characterization. I mean, for one thing, nobody ever complains about the weather. Which leads me to wonder: is Scotland really not as miserably cold and rainy as I’ve been led to believe, or do Scottish people just not notice it? As AMS describes it, Edinburgh is kind of equivalent to San Francisco, weather-wise.

    He’s a pretty prolific Facebook poster, too, and he’s always got new teasers from the Scotland Street serial, which is still running daily in The Scotsman. (But they’re full of spoilers, so don’t read them until you’ve caught up!) Plus he has links to stuff he writes for other papers. My favorite was his defense of the British teapot.

    Oh, and a side note: I was pretty sure that a lot of the peripheral characters and names he mentions are real people–not just Ian Rankin, who shows up a couple of times, but gallery owners, artists, etc. Sure enough, a few books into the series, he mentions–just in passing–a Classics professor who attained a kind of rock-star status for his lectures at U of Edinburgh and eventually ended up teaching at a university in Florida. This can only be Francis Cairns, who joined the faculty at Florida State about the time I was finishing up my PhD.

  2. so gojira and i visited edinburgh one time and it was everything we dreamed it would be and more. it helped that gojira had a horrible time the last time she went and brought me down with her rock bottom expectations. the architecture is eye-popping, the weather was gorgeous, and who cares what people were saying – we just wanted to hear them say it in their accent.

    part one

    part two

    interesting tidbits about the author – i saw your comment on his FB page. stalkerish? yes, yes, i am.

  3. Facebook makes the stalking so easy, doesn’t it?

  4. easier than ever!

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