I love Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and his 44 Scotland Street series. New entries into these two series are fixtures in my commuting year. Listening to them on my way to work is like commuting with old friends. I haven’t tried his stand-alone books though. And, what a shame that is is My Italian Bulldozer is any indication! This is a “road trip” unlike any other. But, just like in his series, AMS has populated his story with people you wish you knew.
Paul Stuart, a food writer, is gently reminded by his editor that he is a little behind on his newest book. Paul, still in the aftermath of the break-up of his live-in relationship girlfriend who has thrown him over, without warning, for her personal trainer, decides to go out to Italy and do some research for his book. He arrives on a local holiday and finds no vehicles to rent except, you guessed it, an up-to-date bulldozer that can travel at a decent speed and lumber around corners.
What I Loved
Alexander McCall Smith knows people. He “gets” them. This is his big strength as a writer. In this short novel he introduces us to a cast of characters that warm our hearts and leave us wishing we were on the trip for real. Paul’s journey was to expand his research on the foodie delights of the area, but he had no idea when he set out that he would find such incredible fare–or such amazing people to educate him on it all.
What I Didn’t Like
I disliked nothing. Not a thing. It’s pure AMS from heartbreaking start to lovely finish. I suppose if you were brand new to this author, you could knit-pick about things. But as a veteran of two of his series, I know that it’s best to just smile and go along with it all. This book is meant to be a fun little escape. Don’t question reality too closely.
My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith
Quite a Ride!
This would make a delightful movie in the tradition of Hugh Grant’s The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. I’m not sure what age Paul was supposed to be–he could be any age really. I think Hugh Bonneville would be very nice as Paul in the movie version. And, it would be really fun to see Elizabeth McGovern as the America.