Espresso Tales

by

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Title: Espresso Tales

Genre: Gentle

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 368

Geographical Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland

Time Period: Current

Series: 44 Scotland Street, 2

Plot Summary:

Espresso Tales is the sequel to 44 Scotland Street and continues to follow the lives of the tenants, who happen to reside at the address 44 Scotland St.  Readers can catch up with Pat, who had just finished her second gap year, has decided to stay in Edinburgh, Bruce who needs a new job and may give the wine business a try, and gifted 6-year-old Bertie who is starting kindergarten and is forced to wear crushed-strawberry (or pink) dungarees on his first day. The characters, of various ages, form relationships in odd and endearing ways.  This is a lighthearted work that takes turns revealing the story of each of the characters.  By using alternating points of view, the reader is able to see how the different characters reflect on the other residents, and themselves, providing insight and humor.

Subject Headings:

Apartment houses; father and son; friendship; genius; gifted children; men/women relations; mother and son; neighbors; roommates; senior women; women college students; young women

Appeal:

Strong sense of place; amusing; upbeat; engaging; character driven; relaxed pacing; lighthearted tone; humorous tone; flawed characters; recognizable characters; insightful characters; episodic storyline

3 terms that best describe this book:

Strong sense of place; amusing; relaxed pacing

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Edinburgh: A Cultural and Literary History by Donald Campbell

Alexander McCall Smith captures the city in Espresso Tales, providing a great sense of place.  This work, organized by sections of town provides an introduction to Edinburgh’s history.  For those who want to know more about the town that is the backdrop of this series.

Waiter, There’s a Horse in My Wine: A Treasury of Entertainment, Exploration and Education by America’s Wittiest Wine Critic by Jennifer Rosen

In Espresso Tales one of the characters, Bruce decides to try his luck in the wine trade.  This suggestion is for those readers who may want to know a bit more about the world of wine through a collection of humorous wine critic columns.

Hothouse kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child by Alissa Quart

This work looks at the consequences that putting too much pressure on gifted children may have.  This could be an interesting book for readers who were invested in Bertie’s difficulties with his mother and would like to learn more about the predicament of gifted children.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Secret Lives of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber by James Thurber illustrated by Marc Simont

This humorous book is a compilation of short stories detailing the roles the narrator, a meek man, imagines himself in.  Combining illustrations with Thurber’s short stories, as well as including Thurber’s amusing autobiographical essay this book may appeal to those who like the lighthearted introspection that can be found in Espresso Tales.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

In this novel, set during the Great Depression, two young couples meet and befriend one another in Wisconsin.   A stylistically complex and moving novel, this story focuses on the connections that people make, which may resonate with readers who like the unlikely friendships and acquaintances that are made at 44 Scotland Street.

Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston

In this book ambitious Quinn, a British Lawyer living in New York City, is put on bed rest for the last three months of her pregnancy.  This character-driven, humorous work has Quinn reflecting on her life, getting to know her neighbors, developing relationships in places she didn’t think she would.  This book may appeal to those who like insight into their characters thoughts as well as those who like circumstances that create unlikely bonds.

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

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