Forget bakewells, victorias, roulades and other members of the Great British Bake-Off, if you want to raise a smile, try the humble scone. First of all there was Alexander McCall Smith’s The Unbearable Lightness of Scones . I don’t think I have actually read it, but being familiar with the tenor of the Scotland Street novels, I know that that if I did I would munch through it voraciously and might even have room for another, in contrast to the struggle I had with its heavy-weight predecessor, which I started many years ago but despite my love of Prague never finished.
The scone effect is also at work in Love, Revenge and Buttered Scones by Bobbie Darbyshire (Sandstone Press 2010). I heard about the author and the publisher in the latest Leaf Magazine (yes, I’m in the next issue) and having a vested interest in Scottish publishers, rushed off to have a look. On the site I found not just the scone book, but also Tell Me Where You Are by Moira Forsyth, an author whose two previous books I loved and whom I didn’t know had written a third. Needless to say both titles were ordered and arrived a few days ago.
Judging by the first few chapters, LRBS lives up to its promise of light-hearted mayhem centred on Inverness Public Library. Yes, you are already getting the picture. Of the three main characters, Peter is a failed poet, Elena is an exiled Spaniard with an old score to settle and Henry is, well, just Henry, middle-aged and living in a world where dreams are destined to crumble. It’s perhaps stretching things just a tad to have Peter and Henry as brothers and Elena and Peter to be looking for the same person and there is a strong whiff of Ayckbourn farce (complete with revolving doors) in the goings-on in the Reference Room on the night of the writing workshop. But then suspension of disbelief isn’t a problem, particularly in the company of Peter whose thoughts are as garrulously inventive as befits a frustrated wordsmith.
As for the scones, so far no sign of them, buttered or otherwise. But as it happens I might be able to summon up a few of the real thing. Last week the National Trust promised a cream tea to the best NT ‘poem’ tweeted on the day and hey presto my rhyming couplet took the prize. And so my own helping of scones is hopefully in the post!