'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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August 6, 2015

The Novel Habits of Happiness



These are odd books, I've decided, these Isabel Dalhousies, very likely not everyone's cup of tea, but they are mine. Maybe that's because liking them is proof positive that I've never read mystery novels for the mystery...  Then again, Isabel is more of a philosopher than a sleuth, someone who helps people by thinking endlessly about the problems they are facing and even whether she has the moral right to solve them. {In this one, a friend of Isabel's asks her to help a young mother who is understandably concerned when her six-year-old son begins to talk in great detail about the family he lived with before, in a house by the sea, with a view of a lighthouse. I liked the way this plot line ends, though I can't say why it was good without spoiling it.  Oh, and there's something afoot with Professor Lettuce and the odious Christopher Dove.}

But mostly I love how Alexander McCall Smith just rambles. And, though I'm planning to sniff about how another writer uses this technique in the audiobook I'm listening to, I also love the way AMS scatters allusions to real life in his books.  Isabel visits her friend Guy Peploe at The Scottish Gallery, and there really is a Guy Peploe who runs the The Scottish Gallery, and he really is descended from an artist named Samuel John Peploe...


and when Isabel recognizes a Cadell, and Guy says 'Yes. But clearly not one of his women in hats.' there are Cadells of women in hats to look for.  I kind of knew there would be.



6 comments:

marmee said...

Oh I just love the Isabel Dalhousie novels....read them and am now enjoying again as audiobooks!

JoAnn said...

Delightful! I've only read his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, but want to try both the 44 Scotland Street and Isabel Dalhouse series.

Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock said...

I enjoyed the first few books in this series but then I drifted away from it. Thank you for a lovely reminder that I should pick up the threads.

Anbolyn said...

I'm the opposite - I read mysteries for the mystery. If the mystery is weak, I can't abide it.

Cosy Books said...

I've never read anything by McCall Smith but I'd like to, Audrey. You know what I like, do you think we would be a good fit?

Audrey said...

Let's see, I think his books are funny, friendly, and smart. Actually, they sound a lot like you, Darlene! These or Corduroy Mansions, set in London?

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