Pat, a plain but likable 20-year-old in Edinburgh, Scotland, is taking a year off school for the second time to work in an art gallery run by Matthew, who doesn't seem to be much of a business man but whose father pays the bills. Her fellow residents at 44 Scotland Street include: Bruce, a vain and self-centered surveyor with whom she unwillingly falls in love; Domenica MacDonald, a feisty middle-aged widow; and Bertie, a 5-year-old whiz who practices saxophone and speaks Italian at the behest of pushy mother Irene.
Matthew wants to date Pat, who isn't that attracted to him and is worried about getting involved with her boss, while Bruce is clearly bad news, but Pat can't help being drawn to him. Things get more complicated when Bruce takes a painting that Pat was storing at home for Matthew because it might be a valuable Peploe, and gives it to the Conservative Ball for a fundraising auction. Bertie gets in trouble at East New Town Nursery for writing Italian grafitti in the bathroom, and Irene takes him to therapy. Other incidental characters and even real Edinburgh personalities like mystery thriller writer Ian Rankin turn up in this light-hearted 2005 novel that McCall Smith originally published as a daily serial story in "The Scotsman" newspaper.
This report prepared by David Loftus