Alexander McCall Smith - The Unbearable Lightness Of Scones - Little, Brown Book Group

The Unbearable Lightness Of Scones

By Alexander McCall Smith

  • Paperback
  • £8.99

* The fifth volume of Alexander McCall Smith's wonderful serial novels set in Edinburgh's New Town

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 . . .

Biographical Notes

Following a distinguished career as a Professor of Medical Law, Alexander McCall Smith has turned to writing full-time. He is the author of over sixty books on a wide array of subjects, and his books have been translated into forty-five languages. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780349121147
  • Publication date: 07 May 2009
  • Page count: 336
  • Imprint: Abacus
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Catch up with the delightful goings-on in the fictitious 44 Scotland Street from Alexander McCall Smith . . .'A joyous, charming portrait of city life and human foibles, which moves beyond its setting to deal with deep moral issues and love, desire and friendship' Sunday ExpressIf only Pat Macgregor had an inkling of the embarrassment romantic, professional, even aesthetic that flowed from accepting narcissistic ex-boyfriend Bruce Anderson's invitation for coffee, she would never have said yes. And if only Matthew, her boss at the art gallery, hadn't wandered into his local bookshop and picked up a particular book at a particular time, he would never have knocked over his former English teacher or attracted the attentions of the police.Whether caused by small things such as a cup of coffee and a book, or major events such as Stuart's application for promotion and his wife Irene's decision to go off and study for a PhD in Aberdeen, change is coming to serial fiction's favourite street. But for three seven-year-old boys Bertie Pollock, Ranald Braveheart Macpherson, and Big Lou's foster son Finlay - it also means a getting a glimpse of perfect happiness.Alexander McCall Smith's delightfully witty, wise and sometimes surreal comedy spirals out to include tennis-playing Rwandan Forest People, researches into levitating Celtic saints, bogus headhunters in Papua New Guinea and primary school performances of Beckett. But its heart remains where it has always been true to life, love and laughter in Edinburgh's New Town.

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It is summer in Edinburgh and Isabel Dalhousie is once again caught between 'gossip' and significant rumour. It is none of her business that Patricia, the mother of her son Charlie's little friend Basil, is estranged from Basil's father, or that the woman has a somewhat brazen attitude to childcare. And yet, it is curious.Isabel, however, has much else on her mind as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. Along with the work involved for its impending next issue, she really needs to get her house in order and tend to the demands of her niece, Cat. Thankfully, the arrival of Antonia, the exuberant Italian au pair, will take care of urgent chores. And the hiring of Claire, a diligent if unsettlingly beautiful new assistant at the Review, surely means that Isabel can breathe, at least a little.But her sharp observation and assured role as confidante soon have Isabel doubting all her recent decisions. What's more, her instinct to help others may have put her in real danger. In her desire to run both a smooth household and working life, has she simply created more chaos? Perhaps the quiet side of passion is, after all, the best side on which to be?

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A Florentine Revenge

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On a scorching summer afternoon in the suburbs of Florence, a small girl goes missing at a crowded swimming pool and is never seen alive again. For fifteen years a terrible crime lies unsolved, becoming one of the city's darkest and most shameful secrets, until one bitter winter night another body is found, at another swimming pool, and the case is reopened. Celia Donnelly had just arrived in Florence at the time of the girl's disappearance and can remember only too well the face that filled the front pages of every Italian newspaper. When word of the gruesome new discovery breaks, she is in the midst of arranging a weekend of birthday celebrations for a wealthy Englishman's wife. However, as Celia undertakes what ought to be a routine work assignment, she finds herself more closely involved than she could have ever imagined with a tragedy that has haunted her dreams for fifteen years; and it is Celia who is compelled to bear witness when the past returns to exact a brutal and terrifying revenge.

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My Italian Bulldozer

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'While My Italian Bulldozer certainly advocates a kind, considerate, some might even say old-fashioned approach to resolving affairs of the heart, it also succeeds in subtly, almost imperceptibly ripping up the traditional rules of the romantic comedy and creating something refreshingly original' ScotsmanWhen writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to finish his already late book, it seems like the perfect escape from stressful city life. Upon landing, however, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his hired car is nowhere to be found. With no record of any reservation and no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is, until an enterprising stranger offers him an unexpected alternative. While there may be no cars available there is something else on offer: a bulldozer.With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts and so begins a series of laugh out loud adventures through the Italian countryside, following in the wake of Paul and his Italian Bulldozer. A story of unexpected circumstance and lesson in making the best of what you have, My Italian Bulldozer is a warm holiday read guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

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The House of Unexpected Sisters

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Precious and Grace

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One bright morning, Precious Ramotswe - head of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - receives a visitor: a woman from Australia. This woman asks Precious to take on a case: to find the nursemaid who raised her during her childhood in Botswana. The woman wants to thank her for being such an important part of her life. Precious has a history of successfully solving cases, but this one proves difficult and throws up a number of surprises and challenges. Back in her office, next door to the Speedy Motors Garage on Twokleng Road, Precious also has a team to manage: Mr Polopetsi, a part-time science teacher and new assistant at the agency; she mentors Charlie, a former apprentice and young man too handsome and charming for his own good - a man who has gotten himself in deep water; and then there is Precious's tumultuous but heart-warming friendship with her co-director, the fiery Grace Makutsi. Precious and Grace is a story about being a detective, the complexities of human nature, as well as lessons about gratitude and obligation.

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A Distant View of Everything

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Isabel Dalhousie now has a second child - another boy, Magnus. He comes home with her at the beginning of the book and she discovers that Charlie is far from thrilled. He sees no need for a new baby.In Cat's delicatessen, Isabel meets a woman with whom she had been at school. This woman, Bea Shand, is known as an enthusiastic match-maker. She is very worried, though, as she has introduced a woman she knows to a plastic surgeon who is now described by another friend as a gold-digger. This other friend reveals that the surgeon has a bad track record: he has been involved with a series of well-off women and has succeeded in separating a number of then from their money. Bea asks Isabel to investigate; she herself tried to warn her friend of the danger she was in but was rebuffed badly.Isabel starts to make enquiries. At first the pattern that emerges confirms her friend's dire diagnosis, but as things develop it emerges that not only is the surgeon innocent, but he himself is the one in danger!In the meantime, as a sub-plot, Isabel finds that the man who warned her of the surgeon's proclivities, is taking an interest in her (Isabel). He appears to be smitten by her; she tries to get away from him but discovers that she has inadvertently given Jamie grounds to believe that she (Isabel) is having an affair. This is awkward, but is resolved satisfactorily.Her final conclusion: match-make at one's peril. Never tell people half-truths for paternalistic reasons. Mind your own business (a lesson that Isabel never seems to learn).

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The Bertie Project

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Bertie's respite from his overbearing mother, Irene, is over. She has returned from the middle-east, only to discover that her son has been exposed to the worst evils of cartoons, movies and Irn Bru, and her wrath falls upon her unfortunate husband, Stuart. Meanwhile, Bruce has fallen in love with someone other than himself; Big Lou wants to adopt her beloved Finlay; Matthew and Elspeth host the Duke of Johannesburg for supper and Bertie decides he wants to move out of Scotland Street altogether and live with his grandmother, Nicola.Can Irene and Stuart's marriage survive? Will Bruce's newfound love last? And will Bertie really leave Scotland Street? Find out in the next instalment of this charming, beloved series.

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Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

Alexander McCall Smith
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Edinburgh basks in glorious, but brief, summer sunshine, and Isabel Dalhousie - philosopher, philanthropist and mother - searches for the perfect birthday present for her husband Jamie. While carefully seeking out a gift, Isabel finds herself at a viewing for an auction, and happens upon an old friend in distress - a friend who decides to unburden herself of her secrets, and to reveal a clue within a painting hanging on the walls of the auction house.Soon Isabel discovers that this secret binds her not only to her friend, but also to another woman. Questions about morality and loyalty disturb Isabel's peaceful existence with her young son and precious family, but she must face up to them in order to ensure that no one is led astray. Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine is a charming and gentle novella featuring one of Alexander McCall Smith's most loved characters: Isabel Dalhousie.

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The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

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Mma Ramotswe is not one to sit about. Her busy life gives her little time for relaxation (apart from the drinking of tea, of course, which is another matter altogether). Nonetheless, she is persuaded to take a holiday from the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency. But Mma Ramotswe finds it impossible to resist the temptation to follow the cases taken on by her business partner, Mma Makutsi, and to interfere in them - at one remove. This leads her to delve into the past of a man whose reputation has been called into question. Meanwhile, Violet Sephotho, Mma Makutsi's arch enemy, has had the temerity to set up a new secretarial college - one that aims to rival that great institution, the Botswana Secretarial College. Will she get her comeuppance? It will be a close-run thing.

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On the eve of her 27th birthday, Josie Goodwin is feeling harassed. Her boyfriend Will has become a donkey-loving hippy and her best friend Lara has baby-brain. She desperately needs to find the perfect location for a film shoot, or her career may implode. Her eccentric grandma has always said that Josie will inherit a book of spells on her birthday, but since she doesn't believe in magic, nothing will improve; or will it?

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The Novel Habits of Happiness

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Isabel Dalhousie is one of Edinburgh's most generous (but discreet) philanthropists - but should she be more charitable? She wonders, sometimes, if she is too judgmental about her niece's amorous exploits, too sharp about her housekeeper's spiritual beliefs, too ready to bristle in battle against her enemies. As the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, she doesn't, of course, allow herself actual enemies, but she does feel enmity - especially towards two academics who have just arrived in the city. Isabel feels they're a highly destabilizing influence; little tremors in the volcanic rock upon which an Enlightened Edinburgh perches. Equally troubling is the situation of the little boy who is convinced he had a previous life. When Isabel is called upon to help, she finds herself questioning her views on reincarnation. And the nature of grief. And - crucially - the positioning of lighthouses. The only questions Isabel doesn't have to address concern her personal life. With her young son and devoted husband her home life is blissfully content. Which is the best possible launching pad for the next issue of the Review - the Happiness issue. As Isabel is beginning to appreciate, happiness, for most people, is not quite what it seems . . .