The World According to Bertie

Alexander McCall Smith, in The World According to Bertie gives us a sizable dose of our favorite six year old, Bertie Pollock. He is a precocious child who ‘wanted so much to be the average boy, but he knew that this would forever be beyond his reach.’ McCall Smith delivers more of his warm humor, cultural commentary, names of Scottish artists, and the lives of the familiar characters of his Edinburgh series. He is famous for his repeated adjectival phrases, such as the traditionally built woman, Mma Ramotswe.  In this book Matthew wears a distressed-oatmeal sweater and crushed-strawberry trousers. Never beige, Matthew’s distressed-oatmeal sweater appears with comedic frequency.

Bertie’s mummy Irene is laughable in all her pomposity: “It had to do with the idealisation of the female parental figure, or mother, to use the vernacular.”

What Miss Harmony faces in her job teaching: “Much had been forgotten, and the rest of the morning was devoted to the re-installation of vanished knowledge.”

Here are a few more quotes to sample:

We live in a culture of complaint
because everyone is always looking
for things to complain about.
It’s all tied in with the desire to
blame others for misfortune and
to get some form of compensation
into the bargain.



Exercise bicycles in gyms might be used, but this did not apply to those — the majority — bought for use in the home. They stood there, in mute affront to their owners, quite idle, before being moved to a spare room and ultimately to an attic. They there were recycled, which did not mean, in this case, that they had been cycled in the first place.

For light reading, and some laugh-aloud moments, I recommend The World According to Bertie.



5 thoughts on “The World According to Bertie

  1. “To use the vernacular.”  That makes me laugh so hard.  I love this series.  I have often spoken of “The Bertie Project” when talking about parenting.  Thanks for the great quotes.Love,Di

  2. I love Bertie!  I find Irene fascinating – I think she’s the epitome of a bossy, feminist, post-modern woman.I’m so glad you’re reading and reviewing this series!  The Corduroy Mansions series is pretty good, too, but sadly, no Bertie.

  3. I decided I couldn’t wait till my copy of Bertie gets here to taste AMS’s writing for myself and have downloaded a different book to my Kindle. “The Perils of Morning Coffee.” an Isabel Dalhousie book. Delightful reading!

Comments are cinnamon on my oatmeal!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s