Tag Archives: Alexander McCall Smith

Book Review: The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith

The Importance of Being Seven

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.


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Quotation of the Day

I am currently reading 2 books.  The first is ‘The Stranger’s Child’ by Alan Hollinghurst, which has been hailed as a masterpiece, but hasn’t wowed me so far (I’m on page 191).  The other is ‘The Importance of being Seven’ from the author of today’s quote, Alexander McCall Smith.  I have turned up rather late to the McCall Smith party, having only read my first of his books during the summer of 2012 when I picked up a copy of ‘Friends, Lovers, Chocolate’, the second in the Isabel Dalhousie series, from a homestay in Ubud, Bali.  Since then I have read more from that series, and also become rather addicted to the 44 Scotland Street series, of which ‘The Importance of Being Seven’ is the 6th novel.  The wonderful thing about not having discovered his greatness earlier is that there are so many of his books left that I have not yet read, so I don’t have the agonising wait for any new material and can still raid the library of his back catalogue.  I will talk more about his work when I write my review of ‘The Importance of Being Seven’, but for now here’s a quote:


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