Book review: A Time of Love and Tartan

What’s the story?

Changes are afoot in Scotland Street, where small things can be of great consequence. A colossal embarrassment follows Pat Macgregor’s ill-advised coffee with narcissistic ex-boyfriend Bruce. If Matthew, her boss at the art gallery, hadn’t wandered into his local bookshop and picked up a particular book at a particular time, he would never have knocked over his former English teacher or attracted the attention of the police. Meanwhile other residents are moving onwards and upwards. Stuart’s application for promotion and his wife Irene’s decision to study for a PhD in Aberdeen mean alterations to life in serial fiction’s favourite street. But as Stuart’s son Bertie finds out, sometimes change can lead to sudden unexpected happiness too.


This 44 Scotland Street novel is a wonderful mixture of wit and an appreciation of the daily contests of modern living. Alexander McCall Smith creates and instant connection between the reader and his characters which sticks with you throughout the novel. The introduction of a dilemma that is both modern and that most people have likely experienced at some point is immediately relatable and pulls the reader straight into the text. The novel’s familiar, Edinburgh based setting also creates an extra sense of realism which is hard to escape. The humorous writing style of the author makes the novel difficult to put down and immensely entertaining from start to finish.


A Time of Love and Tartan does seem to overcome a few of the obstacles facing its key characters in a rather neat fashion. However, this may come as a delight to many readers who are fans Alexander McCall Smith’s characters that hope so see these burdens overcome.


The novel is definitely worth a read for residents of Edinburgh. The familiarity felt within A Time of Love and Tartan’s setting and established characters makes readers feel welcome as soon as they turn the cover. However, this novel is also suitable for a wider readership. The author’s observations on human behaviour make this novel playful and relatable.

Click below for a sample chapter

A Time of Love and Tartan Sample Chapter


A Time of Love and Tartan is an engaging and whimsical observation of modern life that has the ability to make readers laugh out loud—or at the very least crack a smile. Its depictions of Scotland’s capital are vivid and make it difficult to put down.

A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith, published by Polygon, £16.99.
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