We are back in Scotland Street, where Bertie is now living with his father and younger brother, Ulysses, his mother, Irene, having gone off to Aberdeen (at long last, in the view of some).
Bertie's father has found a friend, and is trying to get to know her better. Irene, though, may have other ideas. Big Lou is developing her coffee bar, aided by her new business partner, Matthew, father of triplets and dealer in art. Bruce, the confirmed narcissist, meets a charming dental hygienist. Will he reform and settle down? The mysterious Italian nun who arrived in Scotland with Antonia, one of the residents of Scotland Street, is becoming more enigmatic. Her meteoric social rise, however, continues unabated. She is now on the board of the Scottish National Gallery and is planning a rehang of the nation's paintings. Will she get away with that?
Stories do not have to be long. In the space of a couple of sentences — or even a page or two — we may see the human heart exposed in a way that is more powerful than occurs in many much longer narratives.
In Tiny Tales Alexander McCall Smith explores romance, ambition, kindness and happiness in thirty short stories that range in length from the short to the minuscule. The settings are as diverse as the characters — Scotland, England, Australia, the United States — combining to create a rich and surprising tableau. An Australian pope? A persuasive cosmetic surgeon? The world's laziest cat. A group of students living together and getting romantically entangled? All human and animal life is here — in miniature.
These stories are inspired and accompanied by the thirty magnificent strip Tiny Tales created by McCall Smith and illustrated by the brilliant Iain McIntosh — each cartoon a little gem of observation.
A poem does not have to be famous to be cherished. The best-known poems of Robert Burns have been loved by countless people over the years, but there are other poems that may be largely unknown that will mean a great deal to the few who are familiar with them.
This anthology is a personal curation and not just a simple collection of poems. Each poem, handpicked by Alexander McCall Smith, leads the reader from one poem to the another. Intimate in tone, the editor shares the pleasure he finds in these poems through short epigraphs written for each piece.
Paul Stewart has returned to Scotland to continue his successful career. His agent and girlfriend, Gloria, has arranged for him to write The Philosophy of Food in Six Easy Chapters, a project he relishes but that will have to be delivered in six months. It is not going well, as Paul finds his domestic circumstances unsuited to concentrated hard work: Gloria has now moved in with him (not specifically invited) and has brought with her two extremely vocal and demanding Siamese cats. The cats give Paul no peace.
Beginning to worry that The Philosophy of Food will never be written Paul calls on the aid of his cousin, Chloe, who suggests a radical course of action. She has taken a six-month lease on a house in a French village not far from Poitiers and invites him to join her there and get the book finished in peace. He needs no second bidding and it is not long before he escapes to France.
Once there, however, Paul finds his fortunes tangled up with the fate of one eating establishment in the village: the infamous Second Worst Restaurant in France ...
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