Book Review: A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith

There are big changes happening at 44 Scotland Street – changes that might have readers breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The 44 Scotland Street series can be compared to the long-running Aussie TV show, Neighbours, in a sense that the characters have become part of their followers’ lives. Each book is a new episode and readers are always keen to know what the people at 44 Scotland Street are up to.

In the twelfth book, we follow the funny and sometimes frustrating lives of the building’s residents.

Pat Macgregor is being sucked back into the web of her extremely narcissistic ex-boyfriend, Bruce. And even though she knows she shouldn’t, she can’t help but fall back under his spell.

Matthew and Elspeth are going through their own crises. Matthew is experiencing new levels of anxiety due to a small but hilarious misunderstanding at a local bookshop (after picking up a certain 50 Shades book) which escalated into a catastrophic mistake involving the police. Meanwhile, Elspeth is close to collapsing after having no au pairs for quite some time. She is struggling with domestic life, juggling triplets and a chaotic household.

Angus and Domenica are still together, both questioning certain things about their lives and the marriage that they both entered into willingly.

Bertie is still suffering in silence under his mother’s strict guidance. On top of that, he has to play a leading role in a disastrous school play.

But it’s Stuart’s life that seems to be getting the biggest overhaul. He’s vying for a big promotion at work, against two co-workers who are convinced that he is part of the big patriarchal conspiracy against all women in general. Then there is his marriage to Irene, which has lasted surprisingly long despite its cold and skewed dynamics. The question isn’t if they will ever break up, but when.

A Time of Love and Tartan is indeed a good soap opera in book form. One of the best things about McCall Smith’s long-running series is that even if you haven’t read any of the other books, you won’t feel left out. You’ll get to know the characters and their unique personalities just a few pages into the story. You’ll probably make a quick decision about who to like and who not to like. As well as the characters whom you most want to have a happy ending.

If you love the previous books in this series, then it’s time to catch up with all your old mates from 44 Scotland Street.

Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective and creative director of 3C Digital. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published in 2016. Book Two, The Girl Between Light and Dark, is set for release this year.

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