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To the casual observer, the great enlightened city of Edinburgh, home of no-nonsense philosophers and cream teas, might appear immune to the rollercoaster of strong emotions. But at 44 Scotland Street, as Matthew and Elspeth embark on the risky enterprise of married love, the raffish portrait painter Angus Lordie has a premonition of disaster. And soon enough Irene Pollock is shocked to learn that her small son Bertie harbours a highly unsuitable ambition; the gloriously vain Bruce discovers a wrinkle and confronts rejection; and Angus finds himself facing the grave consequences of unbridled bliss, not to mention a large Glaswegian gangster bearing gifts . . .
The fifth book in McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series re-visits the quirky characters of a tiny neighborhood of Edinburgh: aging Angus and his dog, young Matthew with his new bride, precocious six-year-old Bertie and his overbearing mother, and others. The dry humor and Wodehousian wit in the descriptions and observations of the eccentric characters give them charm, but the book is a study in ordinary people living ordinary lives, and the narrative is slow paced. Robert Ian Mackenzie's deep, sonorous voice is ideal for the exposition and the voices of the male characters, but that same rich masculine voice is a drawback when used for the dialogue of the female and child characters, who end up sounding stilted and impaired. An Anchor paperback (Reviews, Nov. 9). \n