The Peppermint Tea Chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith

 The Peppermint Tea Chronicles cover

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith was published in 2019 and it’s the latest in the 44 Scotland Street series.

This was an enjoyable read, perfect really for bedtime reading as the chapters are very short so if you suddenly get tired it isn’t far to the end of the chapter.

At the end of the last book the ghastly Irene decided to do a PhD at Aberdeen University, leaving her husband Stuart to look after their son Bertie and Ulysses who isn’t Stuart’s son, although Irene doesn’t know that we all know that! Everyone is glad to see the back of her. It’s obvious to Stuart that Irene will be continuing her relationship with the fellow psychologist and father of Ulysses in Aberdeen, so he feels that it’s the end of the marriage, even although Irene seems to think that Stuart is still very much hers to use and abuse. Will he have the guts to break free completely?

Bertie’s life has become more varied as his mother isn’t there to plan out all of his waking hours with psychology appointments and things he doesn’t want to do.

Big Lou, owner of the coffee shop discovers that having a child in her life has very much complicated matters.

Elspeth’s life out in the sticks, with a beautiful house and no money worries looks idyllic, but she’s bored stiff. I would tell her that she should try looking after her triplets herself, but I doubt if that would appeal to her!

Anyway, these books are humorous but also feature small ethical dilemmas. Not all of the characters work well for me, but probably everyone has their own favourites and might be different from mine. For me as ever it was pleasant to be in Edinburgh and the surroundings again, at a time when I haven’t been allowed to travel the 30 miles into the city from my place.

A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith

A Time of Love and Tartan cover

A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith is one from the author’s 44 Scotland Street series and the setting is of course Edinburgh although towards the end of the book there’s a bit of a keek into Orkney. This book was published in 2017 so I’m a bit late in getting to this Scotland Street catch up. These books aren’t great literature, but it’s always good to find out what is happening to the inhabitants. Bertie is probably everybody’s favourite character and he’s still seven years old, he seems to have been seven for about three books. and he’s a bit of a miracle child as he has managed to survive and even thrive despite the behaviour of his ghastly mother Irene. At last it seems like things are looking up for him and his father Stuart, there are changes afoot for them. Will they ever get to that promised land – Glasgow? It’s a place they both hanker after although Bertie had decided that he would have to wait until he was 18 before moving there.

Pat has an encounter with Bruce her ex boyfriend, it’s one of those moments when all readers will be saying – no don’t ever go back!. Matthew, the father of triplets gets into a very embarrassing situation involving an old teacher of his. The newly married Domenica is wondering if she has done the right thing and Big Lou is as ever keeping everyone going with her coffee.

The doings of the characters are interspersed with lots of philosophical and ethical meanderings and even some comments on artists by the Scotland Street artist Angus Lordie.

Alexander McCall Smith uses these books to register his own opinions about modern life, and in this one he takes on the rampant feminism that we have in many government workplaces now where he believes men are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to promotion as political correctness has gone crazy. I think that any job should go to the best candidate, no matter which sex they happen to be, so I have sympathy with his sentiments. This is an enjoyable read, although a bit disjointed.