Espresso Tales–Alexander McCall Smith

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This is the second in a series by the author of the far more famous “Ladies Detective Agency” books. The first, 44 Scotland Street, introduced us to the characters that all live in the same building in Edinburgh. This book continues their stories.

I think everyone’s favorite character in this series is Bertie. He’s 6 (ish) in this book. He’s very intelligent, but the issue is his mother, Irene, who forces him to go to therapy every week, do yoga and learn Italian, and never lets him to do anything that a “normal” boy would do. His dad is sympathetic but completely dominated by his wife.

In this book, Bertie attempts to play rugby by acquiring a school jacket for another school and sneaking in, but he is thwarted and forced to attend a school for gifted children.

Other characters include Bruce, who is incredibly attractive and knows it. He’s a jerk but he gets away with a lot because of his looks. In this book, he flirts with his boss’s wife and gets fired for it and has to find another way to make a living.

His (platonic) flatmate, Patricia, who is trying to figure out what to study and is working with Matthew, who is in love with her.

Matthew has a strained relationship with his wealthy father, which becomes more strained when his dad announces he’s met someone and intends to get married.

Domenica, a retired anthropologist, who is developing an interest in pirates and is contemplating a new field assignment for herself.

Angus, whose dog Cyril is a local landmark.

These books are charming. They’re light and playful and quiet. They feel like the literary equivalent of an afternoon sitting quietly in the sun. I love these books.