Article

Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith

Very short synopsis:

The second instalment in the 44 Scotland Street series with news of all the inhabitants.

inanutshell 

I read it in: English

I liked it:    Yes, it was a great continuation of the series.

Again we are left behind with a few loose threads that I can#t wait to find out more about. What is going to happen to Bertie? Whose baby is Irene having? Is Janis a gold-digger or not? That one thought of hers in the restaurant indicates as much, but the latest conversation between Matthew and his father says different. Bruce is gone – good riddance! Is Pat’s father buying the flat for her? Is she going to be available for Matthew now because of his financial prospects? “Love over Scotland” is already waiting for me.

Product info and buy link :

Title Espresso Tales
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Abacus
ISBN 9780349119700
I got this book from I bought it
More info The 44 Scotland Street series
Buy link Buy Espresso Tales

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

Cover 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

Tales of the city in Edinburgh.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Short instalments about the life of the inhabitants of a house in Edinburgh and the people they meet.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, absolutely.

For people who:  love a cozy atmosphere, great locations, interesting people, short chapters that leave you wanting more.


My thoughts: 

I want to move to Edinburgh. Not because it is a lovely place (it is, but that is not the reason), but because I want to be able to enjoy Alexander McCall Smith’s books set in Edinburgh more than I already do. If you live there I am sure the reading experience will be exceptional. The way he moves his characters around, through streets, around quarters and inside shops is so enjoyable, even if you have no idea about the places; it must be absolute bliss to be able to picture the real locations that you know from experience while reading his stories.

When I started reading I wasn’t aware that this was previously published as a serialised novel in a newspaper, but I was pleasantly surprised. The chapters are very short, but always with an ending that made you want to read on. If I had read that in the paper I would have waited eagerly every morning for the new instalment.

Pat moves into a room in a flat at 44 Scotland Street. From now on we follow her life and that of her flatmate Bruce, an extraordinarily vain surveyor, of their neighbours Domenica (I want her to live next door to me), Irene, an extraordinarily pushy mother, and her son Bertie and of the people they know. As this series has the same setting as the Isabel Dalhousie books I almost expected her or Jamie to come around the corner any minute, but unfortunately this did not happen. I could have imagined Isabel turning up at the lecture at the Portrait Gallery, for example.

The whole book is a delight to read. The little incidents and goings on are sometimes common, sometimes annoying, sometimes completely absurd, sometimes exciting even, but never to the point where your heart rate starts to go up.

One of my many favourite passages:

“Why did you set fire to Daddy’s copy of The Guardian, Bertie? Did you do that because guardian is another word for parent? Was The Guardian your Daddy because Daddy is your guardian?”
Bertie thought for a moment. Dr Fairbairn was clearly mad, but he would have to keep talking to him; otherwise the psychotherapist might suddenly kill both him and his mother.
”No,” he said. “I like Daddy. I don’t want to set fire to Daddy.”
”And do you like The Guardian?” pressed Dr Fairbairn.
”No,” said Bertie. “I don’t like The Guardian."       
“Why?” asked Dr Fairbairn.
“Because it’s always telling you what you should think,” said Bertie. “Just like Mummy.”

I am glad I have the next book in the series already sitting on my shelves.


Product info and buy link :

Title 44 Scotland Street
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Random House
ISBN 9781400079445
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy 44 Scotland Street

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The lost art of gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith

The lost art of gratitude
Isabel Dalhousie meddles once more.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Minty Auchterlonie asks Isabel to help her in a private affair. Isabel should know better, but does she?

Language I read the book in:  English

Did I like it? Yes.

For people who:  like Edinburgh, Isabel Dalhousie, meddlesome people, slow and comfy plots.


My thoughts: 

By now the way Isabel Dalhousie books develop is well known to me. The plot is always interesting, intriguing, but never overly exciting or thrilling. This book was no exception and it was a nice and lovely read.

Brother Fox made a prolonged appearance in this one and Jamie, Charlie and Grace are fixtures again. Isabel’s niece has yet another, unsuitable guy at her side and once more it leads, well, not to disaster, but to another breakup.

And again there were some points that just made me ponder the nice and comfortable life of Isabel Dalhousie. Her son Charlie is 18 months and already she thinks of him as a man of 21, “coming to the end of his university days”. Talk about plans for your children. I just hope than Charlie does not turn out to be a person who does not want or is not able to pursue an academic career. Isabel – as open minded and philosophical she might seem – is a terrible snob. She walks through Edinburgh thinking to herself how she is fond of both the “romantic tourist posters and this unadorned, workaday Scotland”, and about ten lines later she does not “like this street and wished it was not there”, because it was full of cheap Italian restaurants and low-life bars with bouncers. Then she constantly thinks about being a good person, but her thoughts about colleagues are less than charitable. Actually, she is a hypocrite in every way.

On the other hand she can be rather certain that her son will not disappoint her in later life, seeing that he is such an angel at this point already. An angel! He never cries, he goes to sleep and never wakes up, he eats without spilling anything, he has a gourmet taste in food and is just PERFECT in every way. At one point someone says to Isabel “You’ve got a journal to run, as well as a child and a fiancé. You’ve got more than enough in your life.” Oh, has she? All I can see is someone who has not to work for a living, who can go out at any time and leave her son in the hands of her trusted housekeeper, who has all the time in the world to meddle in other people’s business and who has enough money to buy expensive art for pleasure. Oh yes, Isabel has enough on her plate to deal with. I don’t mind her situation at all, but at least she should be honest about it, for God’s sake and not pretend otherwise!


Product info and buy link :

Title The lost art of gratitude
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor Books
ISBN 9780307741974
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy The lost art of gratitude

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren

I received the rest of my order from Awesome Books this week, plus a few other things I am really looking forward to. A good book week, indeed!

I swapped

I bought

  • 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. This is the first book in the series. I was only waiting for this one so I can start reading.
  • A Presumption of Death by Jill Paton Walsh & Dorothy L. Sayers. This is the second Lord Peter Wimsey book that Jill Paton Walsh wrote/finished/co-wrote after “Thrones, Dominations”. Should be good.

For review

  • Beyond Snapshots by Rachel Devina and Peta Mazey. How to take that fancy DSLR camera off “Auto” and photograph your life like a pro.
    I had totally forgotten that I requested this on Netgalley because it was months ago. The approval came only now – strange! But I will enjoy reading this.

From the library

  •   The Accusers by Lindsey Davis. The 15th novel in the Marcus Didius Falco series. It is not my favourite Roman sleuth, but some of the books in this series are really good.

Cover The museum of innocence by Orhan PamukCover 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall SmithCover A presumption of death by Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy L. Sayers

Cover The Accusers by Lindsey DavisCover Beyond snapshots

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

Article

In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren

 

I have been on a bit of a cozy binge with the help of a coupon from Awesome books. Totally love that shop!

 

I bought

Another book in the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. I am still waiting for the first book to turn up.

Cover Death of a Glutton by M. C. BeatonCover Death of a Travelling Man by M. C. BeatonCover Death of a Charming Man by M. C. Beaton

Cover Death of a Nag by M. C. BeatonCover Death of a Macho Man by M. C. BeatonCover Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith

 

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Article

At the villa of reduced circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith

Germans and the (slightly inferior) rest of the world. villa

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis: Professor Dr. von Igelfeld gets caught up in a nasty case of academic intrigue while on sabbatical at Cambridge. Later on he goes to Bogotá and gains political fame in a dubious manner.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes, but not quite as much as the previous two books

For people who… like comical stories, almost slapstick-like plots.

 

 


My thoughts: 

Eins:

Prof. Dr. von Igelfeld is in Cambridge and encounters the sometimes eccentric behaviour of the British. His musings about the differences between Germans and the British and the obvious German superiority are priceless. As someone who has to deal with those cultural differences on a daily basis (and who is somewhat familiar with von Igelfeld’s thought process) I can sympathise with him. 

It was typical of Professor Waterfield’s conversation, he thought, which in his view was a loosely held-together stream of non sequiturs and unsupported assertions. That’s what came of being Anglo-Saxon, he assumed, instead of being German; the Weltanschauung of the former was, quite simply, wrong.

Later on, when he is back in Germany and talks to his colleagues:

“Everything is so irrational in that country. And the people, quite frankly, are utterly eccentric. You have to analyse their smallest pronouncements to work out what they mean. If it is bad weather they will say things like ‘Charming weather we’re having!’”

‘And yet the weather isn’t charming’, said Unterholzer. ‘Why then do they say that it’s charming?’

‘Why indeed?’ agreed von Igelfeld. ‘They often say the direct opposite of what they mean.’

‘That’s extremely strange,’ said the librarian. ‘In fact, one might even describe that as pathological.’

There you have it. The English are odd!

Zwei:

Not sure about this one. The beginning and reasoning behind von Igelfeld’s departure to Colombia makes sense, but then it seems to turn into some slapstick comedy – and I am not a big fan of slapstick. The way the guerillas take over the villa, how von Igelfeld becomes a sort of hero and the subsequent events seem a little far fetched. Funny, yes, but a bit too much for me. Also, the way von Igelfeld extricates himself is rather easy considering the circumstances.

All in all:

I did not like this third instalment as much as the first two, but it had its moments that were really, really good. There is one book left, which I will definitely read once I get my hands on a copy.


Location:

Cambridge, England, UK & Bogotá, Colombia

CambridgeBogotá


Product info and buy link :

Title At the villa of reduced circumstances
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 9781400095094
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy At the villa of reduced circumstances

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The finer points of sausage dogs by Alexander McCall Smith

The finer points of sausage dogsBlurb:

In The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, Professor Dr. Von Igelfeld is mistaken for a veterinarian and not wanting to call attention to the faux pas, begins practicing veterinary medicine without a license. He ends up operating on a friend’s dachshund to dramatic and unfortunate effect. He also transports relics for a schismatically challenged Coptic prelate, and is pursued by marriage-minded widows on board a Mediterranean cruise ship.

 

 

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes

For people who like: smart and humorous stories


My thoughts: 

This is the second book in the series about Prof. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld and it is not quite as funny as the first one, but that is maybe only down to the fact that I now knew what to expect. The first book Portuguese Irregular Verbs came as a complete surprise and that added to the enjoyment of the book. When I started the second book the bar was set very high.

There are only five chapters (fittingly numbered in German) which are self contained stories again, loosely connected by sausage dogs. He has to lecture on them even though he has no clue about them and, in fact, strongly dislikes them. Subsequently he is forced to disfigure the dog of his colleague Unterholzer. This slightly damages their relationship. unitl later, when they find the perfect use for the sausage dog on wheels.

In another story von Igelfeld is on a cruise (now that I come to think of it, he would probably strongly agree with David Foster Wallace on this) and is hunted by dozens of widows and spinsters in search of a suitable husband. So he manages to extricate himself by fleeing from the ship. Next, this happens:

Von Igelfeld, presumably dead and lost at sea, is coming home from the cruise and his colleague Unterholzer who already settled in von Igelfeld’s office is rather surprised to see him.

“Oh, Moritz-Maria, I am so pleased that you are alive! I cannot tell you how sad I was…” he stopped as he realized his terrible solecism. He had addressed von Igelfeld by his first name, and they had only known one another for, what was it, fifteen years?

Oh, yes, it is not as inconceivable as it sounds… To set your mind at ease let me tell you that the two men decided to say “du” to each other from now on and go and have a drink on their newly found “brotherhood”.

This is another delightful instalment in the series. Now on to number three!


Product info and buy link :

Title The finer points of sausage dogs
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 9781400095087
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy The finer points of sausage dogs
More info The Portuguese Irregular Verbs series

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith

Portuguese Irregular VerbsBlurb:

Welcome to the insane and rarified world of Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of the Institute of Romance Philology. Von Igelfeld is engaged in a never-ending quest to win the respect he feels certain he is due–a quest which has the tendency to go hilariously astray.

 

 

 

 

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes, very much

For people who like: absurd, comical stories that make you laugh really hard


My thoughts: 

I didn’t know what to expect from “Portuguese Irregular Verbs” and I never would have thought that a book with such a boring title (any Portuguese speaking readers may forgive me) could be that entertaining! I was laughing so hard while reading this book; this is one of the funniest books I have read in a long while.

Of course, being German myself, Prof. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld was even more enjoyable because I could recognize the German in him. The book has no ongoing plot or story arc, but it consists of self-contained stories from the life of our hero, startting at his time as a student to now (now being sometime in the 1950s).

The ideas Alexander McCall Smith comes up with are hilarious, starting from von Igelfeld’s musings about the names of his friends/foes (you are never quite sure) at the institute to the planned re-naming of his book in order to look better as a decorative furnishing to the tennis match where nobody will ever win. There are so many little, funny moments in this book, there is something to laugh or smile about on every page.

The names of our protagonists alone! Prof- Dr. Moritz Maria von Igelfeld, Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer (no hyphen and no “von”, if you please) and Florianus Prinzel are a troika to be remembered. It is also noteworthy that all the German phrases and words used are spelled properly and grammatically correct.

The book is rather short, but fortunately there are more in the series and I am very much looking forward to reading them. Absolutely recommended!


Product info and buy link :

Title Portuguese Irregular Verbs
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor Books
ISBN 9781400077083
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy Portuguese Irregular Verbs
More info The Portuguese Irregular Verbs series

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Book beginnings on Friday

verbs

Today’s beginning is from a very fun read by Alexander McCall Smith, “Portuguese Irregular Verbs”.

Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria Von Igelfeld often reflected on how fortunate he was to be exactly who he was, and nobody else. When one paused to think of who one might have been had the accident of birth not happened precisely as it did, then, well, one could be quite franky appalled.

What is YOUR book beginning today? To see more book beginnings go to A few more pages!

Article

The comforts of a muddy Saturday by Alexander McCall Smith

The comforts of a muddy SaturdayBlurb:

A doctor’s career has been ruined by allegations of medical fraud and Isabel cannot ignore what may be a miscarriage of justice. Besides, Isabel’s insatiable interest is piqued and she finds herself asking questions. Would a respected doctor make such a grave mistake? If not, what explains the death of the patient? Clearly, an investigation is in order. Meanwhile, there is her baby Charlie, who needs looking after; her niece Cat who needs someone to mind her deli; and a mysterious composer who has latched on to Jamie, making Isabel decidedly uncomfortable. Whatever the problem, whatever the case, we know we can count on Isabel’s instincts to help her find the right solution.

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes

For people who like: Edinburgh, philosophical musings, busybodies who regard anybody’s business to be their own


My thoughts: 

Once more Isabel’s idea of “moral proximity” gets her into a situation where she feels the need to help someone out. She does realize that she could be considered to be an “intermeddler” but that knowledge doesn’t deter her from intermeddling…Her investigations once more go a totally wrong way and the result has nothing to do with what really happened. Somehow, however, her interference helped after all.

I don’t think I have ever come across a heroine who thinks so much about how to be a good person and how to behave properly and who – I don’t want to say “fails”, because she doesn’t fail really –, but is far from perfect. She constantly thinks about being charitable and trusting and what not, and she is everything but. She suspects Jamie of all sorts of things (falsely), she thinks Eddie is a liar (falsely), she hates Dove (possibly with a good reason, but we have no proof of his machinations), she takes an immediate dislike to Nick Smart… She just stumbles along constantly pondering the right ethical behaviour in any given situation, but does she apply her standards to herself? Not really.

And yet you can’t help but like Isabel in spite of or even because of all her failings.

This is another good, comfortable read with plenty of things to think about. The descriptions of the Edinburgh atmosphere add another layer of coziness to this very pleasant book.

Disclaimer: If you do not have children and read those books, please don’t consider Isabel’s motherhood to be typical. Charlie is a model toddler, Jamie a doting father with plenty of time for his son and there is Grace who wants Charlie for himself. Isabel’s experiences as a mother don’t have much in common with the everyday woman, that is for certain. Real life is much different!


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKRamsay Garden

Images from Google maps and wikipedia user David Monniaux


Product info and buy link :

Title The comforts of a muddy Saturday
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor Books
ISBN 9780307474339
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy The comforts of a muddy Saturday
More info The Sunday Philosophy Club series

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The careful use of compliments by Alexander McCall Smith

complimentsBlurb:

Isabel Dalhousie—the nosiest and most sympathetic philosopher you are likely to meet—now has a son, Charlie, whose doting father Jamie has an intriguing idea to pose to Isabel: marriage. But Isabel wonders if Jamie is too young to be serious? And how would Cat respond? On top of these matters, the ambitious Professor Dove has seized Isabel’s position as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. However, nothing it seems can diminish Isabel’s innate curiosity. And when she recognizes that two paintings attributed to a deceased artist have simultaneously appeared on the market, she can’t help but think that they’re forgeries. So Isabel begins an investigation and soon finds herself diverted from her musings about parenthood and onto a path of inquiry into the soul of an artist.

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes      

For people who like: Edinburgh, Scottish isles, philosophy


My thoughts: 

Again, I totally loved Alexander McCall Smith’s style and find it almost incredible how he writes from a woman’s point of view. This is simply amazing, he must have studied women a lot.

Isabel is a mother now. has that mellowed her? Certainly not! She is her old meddling self and again her thoughts about people and her own actions diverge considerably.

Example: She thanks Jamie (the happy father) for not going away when he learned that she was pregnant. She did think it possible that he would prefer his freedom. OK, fair enough. However, only a few pages later she gets irritated when she realizes that people had speculated about whether Jamie would stay or leave. Now, if she herself wasn’t even sure about that, she can hardly blame strangers to wonder, can she?

Her getting involved is once more completely a matter of choice. This time I found her even a little conceited. She tells an expert at a gallery about her suspicion of forgery and even though she has even less clue how to proceed in the matter she still thinks she can do more than the gallery guy.

There are a couple more issues I have with her but I am not going into great lengths about it here (her dealing with Dove which could be called spite, especially since she had no proof for what was going on; her stance on assassinating a tyrant, considering her opinion about the death penalty). All these things are part of her personality and without them the books wouldn’t be as charming as they are.

The next two instalments are already waiting for me.


Location: Edinburgh and Jura, Scotland, UK

Map Jura Barnhill Corryvreckan

Images from Google maps and wikipedia (Barnhill by zilchy111 and Corryvreckan by Russ Baum)


Product info and buy link :

Title The careful use of compliments
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 9781400077120
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy The careful use of compliments
More info Alexander McCall Smith’s website

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The right attitude to rain by Alexander McCall Smith

The right attitude to rainBlurb:

When friends from Dallas arrive in Edinburgh and introduce Isabel to Tom Bruce – a bigwig at home in Texas – several confounding situations unfurl at once. Tom’s young fiancée’s roving eye leads Isabel to believe that money may be the root of her love for Tom. But what, Isabel wonders, is the root of the interest Tom begins to show for Isabel herself? And she can’t forget about her niece, Cat, who’s busy falling for a man whom Isabel suspects of being an incorrigible mama’s boy. Of course Grace and Isabel’s friend Jamie counsel Isabel to stay out of all of it, but there are irresistible philosophical issues at stake – when to tell the truth and when to keep one’s mouth shut, to be precise – and philosophical issues are meat and drink to Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. In any case, she’s certain of the ethical basis for a little sleuthing now and again – especially when the problems involve matters of the heart.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes      

For people who like: Edinburgh, calm plots that don’t get the heart rate up, philosophical ponderings


My thoughts: 

God, Isabel Dalhousie really should chill out a bit. That woman thinks every little detail through as if it was a decision of life and death. She wants to come to morally impeccable decisions and yet again she often fails.

Example: She wants to buy a flat from a woman who is eager to sell it to her because she likes the thought that Isabel and Jamie are living there together.  She got a wrong impression about the two and Isabel thinks it is unfair to accept the very generous offer based on a misconception. She wants to buy the flat for Grace and she and Jamie are not a couple at all. So she goes and tells the seller’s lawyer that she does not intend to live there with her young man. But then she claims that even though they are living apart she IS in a relationship with Jamie. A blatant lie, made because she doesn’t want sympathy from the married lawyer who might feel sorry for the poor spinster Isabel. Of course, she immediately regrets having said it, but where has all her pondering taken her? She just made it worse.

Isabel constantly feels pressured into getting involved in other people’s affairs because she has this odd theory about moral proximity. When she sits next to a person at a garden party she feels she then has a moral obligation to help that person with whatever problem they might have. If she makes eye contact with someone it puts her into a position of moral obligation towards that person (as seen in “The Sunday Philosophy Club” already). Give me a break!

Her friendship with Jamie has evolved into more now, and as you can imagine, that causes quite a bit of distress as well. Heaven forbid that Isabel just plunges into a relationship/affair with a man 14 years younger without agonizing over it for weeks.

Spoiler SelectShow

Cat’s reaction to the fait accompli of the relationship was surprising to say the least and throws a very bad light on her in my opinion. I liked her up to that point but her open hostility was rather unpleasant to watch.

All in all, Isabel Dalhousie makes her own life so complicated it’s not funny anymore. But entertaining nonetheless.


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKPrinces Street Royal Mile

Photos by stuart_sib & stevieb5 at sxc.hu


Product info and buy link :

Title The right attitude to rain
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 9781400077113
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy The right attitude to rain
More info Alexander McCall Smith’s website

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith

friendsBlurb:

In this delightful second installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling new detective series, the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, gets caught up in an affair of the heart—this one a transplant.
When Isabel’s niece, Cat, asks Isabel to run her delicatessen while she attends a wedding in Italy, Isabel meets a man with a most interesting problem. He recently had a heart transplant and is suddenly plagued with memories of events that never happened to him. The situation appeals to Isabel as a philosophical question: Is the heart truly the seat of the soul? And it piques her insatiable curiosity: Could the memories be connected with the donor’s demise? Of course, Grace—Isabel’s no-nonsense housekeeper—and Isabel’s friend Jamie think it is none of Isabel’s business. Meanwhile, Cat brings home an Italian lothario, who, in accordance with all that Isabel knows about Italian lotharios, shouldn’t be trusted . . . but, goodness, he is charming.
That makes two mysteries of the heart to be solved—just the thing for Isabel Dalhousie.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes       

For people who like: cosy mysteries, philosophical  musings, Edinburgh


My thoughts: 

This is the second instalment in “The Sunday Philosophy Club “ series and another delightful read. The atmospheric Edinburgh setting, the “mystery” and the lovely characters make for another very cosy read.

Isabel herself is a character I am not 100% sure about. Do I like her or do I dislike her? In this book I tended towards the latter because she came over as a terrible busybody who just can’t leave anything alone. Her excuse that she has a “moral obligation” to act because someone told her something and now she is somehow responsible for the outcome is rather shaky. Ian never asked her to act – either on his behalf or independently – and still she digs and digs and hurts people along the way. She is the type who stops at nothing just to salve her own conscience (which is an oxymoron really, when you come to think about it).

In this particular case she tries to find the person who donated the organ and does so by flipping through papers to find a death, eventually finds one that seems the right one and assumes he is the donor. How naive and simplistic can you get? And this from a person who is supposed to be a philosopher who thinks every little detail through until the very end. First of all how likely is it that an organ donor dies in the city where the recipient lives? Who says that the dead person was an organ donor at all? Her method is “assuming – acting” without one bit of thought for the people involved. So she goes, hurts the supposed donor’s family and makes an enemy at the same time.

There is no end to her rash acts and  inconsideration in this story. When it would be better to call Jamie to get her out of a tricky situation she rather calls Ian and gets him into an even trickier one! The poor man just had a heart transplant, but she calls him (without warning to boot) to go and meet the person eye to eye who supposedly causes his anguish!

And what about the wish of the donor’s family to remain anonymous? It’s nothing to Isabel. To hunt them down she doesn’t shy away from asking a journalist friend to call in a favour from a surgeon who surely has to violate medical confidentiality. Then she goes and visits the mother who tells her that the father of the donor doesn’t know about the donation and she wants to leave it at that. Can you guess Isabel’s next action? Right! She goes and visits the father (who seems like a nice guy to her) and tells him about it.

She goes through the whole story pondering philosophical issues, pondering what it takes to be a good and charitable person and at the same time judges any situation or person according to her whim and acts on that without any respect for the wishes, feelings and possible consequences for other people.

The most amazing thing is that Isabel still comes over as only human and rather likeable – even though I wanted to beat some sense into her throughout the book.

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKRobert Fergusson's grave

Product info and buy link :

Title Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 9781400077106
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
More info Alexander McCall Smith’s website

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

The Sunday Philosophy Club vcBlurb:

Isabel, the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and an occasional detective, has been accused of getting involved in problems that are, quite frankly, none of her business. In this first instalment, Isabel is attending a concert in the Usher Hall when she witnesses a man fall from the upper balcony. Isabel can’t help wondering whether it was the result of mischance or mischief. Against the best advice of her no-nonsense housekeeper Grace, her bassoon playing friend Jamie, and even her romantically challenged niece Cat, she is morally bound to solve this case.

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes, very much      

For people who like: cosy mysteries, philosophical  musings, Edinburgh


My thoughts: 

What a treat! After reading “The perils of morning coffee” I was eager to read the first book in the series and I wasn’t disappointed. “The Sunday Philosophy Club” was not only cosy, but even gentle, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Isabel Dalhousie sort of becomes entangled in a mystery – to tell the truth, she gets involved by choice –, and tries to get behind the reason for a young man’s death. A death that the police finds unsuspicious, it was an accident to everybody but Isabel.

In her sleuthing attempts she meets interesting people and continuously ponders philosophical issues. It was interesting to observe how her awareness of how to be nice and charitable was thrown out the window when she herself assumes the worst of people and is not too shy to share those thoughts with others. Often we would just read an inner monologue where she tries to decide what to do and what it entails, then again she has delightful conversations with her housekeeper Grace, her niece Cat and other people somehow involved either in her life or the case. Especially Grace was a wonderful character whom I will be happy to hear more about in the next books.

I very much liked the location (how could one not love Edinburgh?), the description of social life there and the different circles Isabel got in contact with, the philosophers, the musicians, the financiers. Our sleuth Isabel  has quite a vivid imagination. She is rather quick with her assumptions and conclusions, and in her mind someone turns from friend and ally to murderer in a heartbeat. It was fun to see how her carefully thought out ideas turned to dust.

Now I am coming to Jamie. I am not sure what to think about Isabel’s relationship with him. In the short story I read previously he was there also (that story is set later on, not sure when) and from the context and his being mentioned in the way he was I gathered he was Isabel’s boyfriend, husband, someone along those lines. Now it turns out he is Cat’s ex boyfriend and Isabel and he are only good friends, even though Isabel might be a little bit in love with the younger man. So, I am curious to see how that relationship develops and into what direction.

This was a delightful first book of a series that makes me want to read the next one right NOW. 

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKUsher Hall

Images from wikipedia. Usher Hall by Kim Traynor

Product info and buy link :

Title The Sunday Philosophy Club
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 978-1400077090
I got this book from the library
Buy link Buy The Sunday Philosophy Club
More info The Sunday Philosophy Club series
and more Alexander McCall Smith’s website

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

The perils of morning coffee by Alexander McCall Smith

perilsBlurb:

Summer in Edinburgh is a season of delicate sunshine and showers, picnics with loved ones in blossoming gardens, and genteel celebrations of art and music. But Isabel Dalhousie’s peaceful idyll is broken when a single meeting over coffee with fellow philosopher Dr. George McLeod brings an irate phone call from his wife, Roz, who implacably accuses Isabel of conducting an affair with her husband.
            Wounded by the injustice of Roz’s wild allegation and concerned both for her standing among the gossipy group of her scholarly peers and for Roz’s apparent state of hysteria, Isabel sets out to discover more about the McLeods, and to set the record straight before the bitterness in their marriage poisons her own reputation. For insight into the McLeods’ relationship she turns to Millie, who is both an old acquaintance of Isabel’s and a university colleague of George’s.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes     

For people who like: cosy mysteries, Isabel Dalhousie, short stories, Edinburgh


My thoughts: 

I have only ever read one book by Alexander McCall Smith before I came across this short story. It was the first book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and I didn’t like it. I gave that one and the following two books that I had bought in a fit of optimism (it was a 3 for 2 at Waterstones, so I was right to buy three) away and decided that Mr. McCall Smith was not for me.

As it turns out now, I think it was Africa that was not for me, because this short story with Isabel Dalhousie, of whom I had never heard before, was just right for me. I loved the setting in Edinburgh, the characters, the topic and the writing style. This is a very short story of only 43 pages, still it introduced me to Isabel Dalhousie’s world quite effectively. It was a very enjoyable read which made me want to read more of this series, as well as some of Alexander McCall Smith’s other series. I am particularly fond of the name of the “Portuguese Irregular Verbs” series – what a charming title! The first book in “The Sunday Philosophy Club” series is already waiting for me.

However, I will definitely steer clear of Botswana, I know that much.

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UK  Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh

Product info and buy link :

Title The perils of morning coffee
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Pantheon
ISBN ASIN: B005GQ40H2
I got this book from the library
Buy link Buy The Perils of Morning Coffee (only available as e-book)
More info The Sunday Philosophy Club series

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Book beginnings on Friday

perils

Today’s book beginning is from a short story by Alexander McCall Smith called “The perils of morning coffee”.

Isabel Dalhousie saw Brother Fox that morning at eleven minutes past four. She was not one to take much notice of such details – she felt it was usually a matter of little importance to know exactly what time it was, unless, of course, one was a railway company, or an airline, for whom concern about punctuality was entirely understandable and, on the whole, to be encouraged.

I really like this beginning. I don’t wear a watch and felt connected to Isabel from the start. A good sign!

What is YOUR book beginning today? To see more book beginnings go to A few more pages!