bertie's guide to life and mothers

Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith

Far and away the best ending yet for our beloved Bertie. 

Bertie turns seven in this, the most recently published of the 44 Scotland Street series and by the end of the novel he's received (almost) all of the gifts poor Bertie could ever want (there's still the matter of a pocket knife...). 

I'm adoring the introduction of two new(er) and promising friends for Bertie. Ranald Braveheart Macpherson, who has been around for a couple of novels now, and Finlay, whose origin I won't reveal as it could be a spoiler. Ranald certainly lives up to his middle name and Finlay we're just having the pleasure of meeting. 

If you haven't yet started to enjoy this series there is a bit of dark thread throughout the narratives. For the most part, these books are rather light, philosophical, gentle novels with somewhat-like-vignettes stringing related stories together. They are accompanied by charming wood-cut looking illustrations. Sometimes there's seriousness and some deeper things to think about in the conversations between the characters. But it's the relationship between Bertie and his mother that is the darkest thread and while it can sometimes be laughable it is altogether too often a bit... disturbing. This is illustrated rather starkly by the joyful way in which this particular entry into the series ends.

There are also significant life steps for Big Lou, a potential new love for Pat, and a disturbing visit for Angus and Dominica. Bruce barely figures in this one, and Matthew and his brood are there, but mostly for the exposition of yet another transition.

And I was happy to see Cyril finally get drunk again.