The Importance of Being Seven is the 6th book in McCall Smith’s ’44 Scotland Street’ series, but the 1st one I’ve reviewed, despite having also read books 1 t0 5. The reason for the lack of previous reviews is mainly because as soon as I have read one, I have been so desperate to start the next one that I’m afraid the review time has been eaten up by more reading time! I have only fairly recently start reading Alexander McCall Smith’s books, but this has meant that I have been able to read several back to back, both from this series, and the Isabel Dalhousie series, which has helped sate my addiction!
The 44 Scotland Street series of books follows the lives of the eccentric residents of the flats within an Edinburgh townhouse, and their friends in the city. The novels were originally serialised in the newspaper The Scotsman, and the relatively short chapters in the novels are the same as what appeared each day. One of the most popular characters among readers of the series is Bertie Pollock, who is the young son of demanding mother Irene, and it is he who believes in the importance of being seven, hoping it will lead to more freedom from his mother’s pressure to attend psychotherapy, learn Italian, and play the saxophone. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot of this particular book because I would encourage you to start from the beginning; the first book helpfully being entitled 44 Scotland Street.
What I love most about these books is McCall Smith’s exquisite writing, in particular his subtle humour and observations about everyday life that are just perfect. Since reading them, I have developed a bordering-on obsession with wanting to go to Edinburgh, and hunt out the places referred to. I know the characters are fictional, but they are so convincing that I feel sure that Edinburgh must be full of intelligent, amusing, cultured people ready to entertain me!
So please do read 44 Scotland Street and the other books in the series. If you enjoy it then you’ll definitely also enjoy The Sunday Philosophy Club, which is the series about Isabel Dalhousie, an Edinburgh based philosopher. I think Alexander McCall Smith’s writing really is unique amongst contemporary authors and he is deserving of readers’ support.
The Literary Owl Rating: 8.5/10
Read with: A glass of Scottish whisky on the rocks of course.