Thursday, 26 August 2010

The World According to Bertie

by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the first novel from the 44 Scotland Street series that I read (and hopefully not the last one). I am not sure that “novel” is a right term though. It has no apparent beginning or end, and perhaps it also could be read from any place in the middle. It does not matter really, because McCall Smith’s writing is so thoroughly enjoyable. Moreover, I think that’s exactly what made 44 Scotland Street series ideal for daily appearance in The Scotsman.

They were always somewhat excited at the beginning of a new term and usually took a few days to settle down, especially if there were any new members. As it happened, there were not, and indeed the class was one member down with the departure of Merlin. He had been withdrawn by his parents, who had decided to home-school him for a trial period. Miss Harmony had not thought that a good idea, as she believed in the socialisation value of the classroom experience, particularly when the parents themselves were so odd. And she had the gravest doubts as to what Merlin’s mother could actually teach her son. There was something very disconcerting about this woman, Miss Harmony thought; her vague, mystical pronouncements, her interest in crystals, and her slightly fey appearance did not inspire confidence. But it was her choice, and it would be respected, although when she thought about it hard enough, she wondered exactly why one should respect the choices of others when those choices were so patently bad ones.

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