44 Scotland Street

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Alexander McCall Smith has earned a following of readers for his many different series of novels. He began with the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (DB55503), set in Botswana, which brought his books and his name to the US. His second series, 44 Scotland Street (DB64303) is the series that I am currently devouring, and have simply fallen in love with.

I was speaking with a patron on the phone a few weeks ago when they mentioned the first book to me. As I’ve recently traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, and have a bit of a fascination with the place, I was intrigued and decided to request myself a copy from Carnegie Library. I wish I could remember which patron that was and personally thank them for the recommendation, and also discuss our delight with the characters, the style and the story.

The series began as a serialized novel, akin to the style of Great Expectations (DB53991) by Charles Dickens . According to Alexander McCall Smith in the introduction of the first installment, he wrote an article challenging why the serialized novel wasn’t in fashion in modern day newspapers, and was contacted by The Scotsman Newspaper of Scotland with a statement along the lines of, “you’re on”.

Because the book was published in short, 2-3 page installments in the weekly newspaper, each piece has its own focus, its own stand-alone beauty, while still contributing to the larger context of the story and character development.

Here’s a confession: when I read the first installment of this series, I thought it was a stand-alone novel and I was very disappointed to bid what felt like a premature farewell to the characters I had grown to enjoy so much—whether I was rooting for them, frustrated by them, laughing at or with them, it felt far from finished. A quick turn to Google enlightened me that this is the first of 10 collected installments! Not only does it continue, but it’s still currently being published in the Scotsman in 3-month installments each year since 2005. How exciting to fall in love with a series and find you have a hefty amount ahead of you to consume?

If you’re looking for a good book to enjoy in bite-sized installments or a delectable series to “binge-read”, you have my hearty recommendation for the 44 Scotland Street series.