Monday, September 17, 2012

Bertie Plays the Blues (Novel)

Family. Friendship. Gender Roles. Elvis. Masons. Nudists. Old Lovers. Lies. Change. 
The blues. Sad, haunting music—even when played by a little boy; but this was no average small boy, this was Bertie, who had had so much to worry about in his short life; who wanted only to have fun, to explore the world, to do the things he had seen other boys do; who wanted to wear jeans rather than pink dungarees; who wanted a dog; who wanted to play rugby and cricket and have a bicycle with racing handlebars… 
Bertie Plays the Blues is the seventh book in Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series. (See my post on The Importance of Being Seven for a quick description). Like the previous books, this one is humorous, touching, and philosophical. While the novel has various major and minor plotlines, the themes of gender roles and lying appear repeatedly. Although an eight book is in the works, Bertie Plays the Blues has a bit of the feel of a final book in a series.

Briefly, Bertie has had enough and goes in search of a new family, first putting himself on E-bay and then trying to have himself adopted. Stewart finally stands up to Irene. Mathew and Elspeth try to cope with being the parents of triplets. Big Lou tries on-line dating. An old lover appears in Domenica’s life, complicating her relationship with Angus. Antonia, who is about to take vows as a nun, gives an expensive painting to Angus and asks him to sell her apartment. Pat again works for Mathew in the art gallery.

Like the other books in the series, Bertie Plays the Blues is a delight. Despite the novel not be scheduled to be released here until next year, I managed to find a copy. In the midst of frightening world events, reading the books in the 44 Scotland Street series creates a little oasis of peace.

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