Bertie Plays the Blues

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2011, 12:00am


Bertie Plays the Blues
by Alexander McCall Smith
Polygon (audiobook)

Bertie Plays the Blues is the latest part of Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series of whimsical comedies. The story is serialised in The Scotsman newspaper, but after seven instalments it has taken on a life of its own. As the titular name suggests, McCall Smith is a contender as the 21st century's P.G. Wodehouse - although his 11-year-old Bertie Pollock is younger than Bertie Wooster. As with all series, starting at the end of the story can be confusing, especially with a broad and eccentric cast of characters. We leap in with Matthew and Elspeth, who have just been blessed (or possibly cursed) with triplets. Previous episodes showed Elspeth is a teacher (her students include Bertie) and Matthew a wealthy art gallery owner. Bertie is as clever and confused as ever - confused mainly by his ghastly mother Irene. Along the way, McCall Smith discusses architecture, poetry, cats and dogs, the birth order of triplets and sleepless nights. David Rintoul has a light Scottish accent and he switches easily between characters, injecting humour into McCall Smith's witty narrative musings. Utterly lovely.