It was a chance encounter with Armistead Maupin (of Tales of the City fame) in San Francisco which inspired Alexander McCall Smith to write his daily novel about the residents of 44 Scotland Street, a fictitious building in a real street in the author's home town of Edinburgh.
With its multiple-occupancy flats, Scotland Street is an interesting corner of the city, verging on the Bohemian, where haute bourgeoisie rub shoulders with students and the more colourful members of the intelligentsia.
The comings and goings at 44 Scotland Street first made their way into print in The Scotsman newspaper in the first half of 2004. Espresso Tales features further escapades from the fringes of the New Town which appeared in The Scotsman during 2005.
This new novel gives Scotland Street aficionados a chance to catch up with the occupants of what must surely be Edinburgh's most well-known literary address, and to meet more of the inhabitants of this unique corner of the city.
Espresso Tales is vintage McCall Smith, tackling issues of trust and honesty, snobbery and hypocrisy, love and loss, but all with great lightness of touch.
Clever, elegant and funny, this is a novel that provides huge entertainment but which is underpinned by the moral dilemmas of everyday life and the characters' struggles to resolve them.
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