At the bottom of a sharply descending street - in the topographical sense - in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town, new residents have moved in to number 44 Scotland Street, joining the already well-known and much-loved denizens of that remarkable building. They appear to be a bit of a mystery, but so, too, do other things. What exactly did Sister Maria-Fiore, the aphorism-coining socialite nun, find on the No. 23 bus? Could it be the remains of a hitherto unknown Neanderthal, homo Watsoniensis?
In a Time of Distance’, the poem from which the collection take its title, was written at the start of the global pandemic which struck at the start of 2020, here the author reminds us of what is important in life and to focus on love, friendship and family. And it is this approach to life that makes this collection a captivating celebration of love and friendship, of Scotland and people, of animals and books. Looking at the world through the lens of this writer, it is a better, more humane place. Throughout the collection there are moments of swoop and soar, descriptions that will make you laugh and realign your view. The author reminds us to look at the world differently, to stop once in while and look up at the sky.
Stories do not have to be long. In the space of a couple of sentences - or even a page or two - we may see the human heart exposed in a way that is more powerful than occurs in many much longer narratives.
In Tiny Tales Alexander McCall Smith explores romance, ambition, kindness and happiness in thirty short stories that range in length from the short to the minuscule. The settings are as diverse as the characters - Scotland, England, Australia, the United States - combining to create a rich and surprising tableau. An Australian pope? A persuasive cosmetic surgeon? The world's laziest cat. A group of students living together and getting romantically entangled? All human and animal life is here - in miniature.