Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Sunday Philosophy Club

Posted by nliakos on June 8, 2008

by Alexander McCall Smith (narrated by Davina Porter; Recorded Books)

I am an enthusiastic fan of Mma Ramotswe and the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, but it has taken me years to get around to reading Alexander McCall Smith’s other series, The Sunday Philosophy Club and its sequels: Friends, Lovers, Chocolate; The Right Attitude to Rain; and The Careful Use of Compliments. Although not quite up to the standard of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, this is a delightful series. The novels are billed as mysteries and the protagonist, Isabel Dalhousie, as a sleuth; but they aren’t really mysteries (any more than the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories are) and Isabel is a 42-year-old independently wealthy philosopher and editor of The Review of Applied Ethics. She is incorrigibly interested in the affairs of others and constantly getting herself embroiled in their business, much to the dismay of her friends. I think Isabel is McCall Smith’s way of pondering the common ethical questions we all meet in daily life (When is it okay to lie? What is our obligations to our fellow humans? etc.). Isabel’s niece Kat, Kat’s rejected suitor Jamie, Isabel’s no-nonsense housekeeper Grace, and the various characters who people the novels are portrayed in that marvelously succinct way he has. There is a love story entwined in the series which unfolds at a leisurely pace. I like Isabel very much, despite her tendency to meddle, and I enjoy the sense of place with which these novels are embued. They renew my wish to visit Scotland.


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