Monday, December 20, 2010

The Charming Quirks of Others

If you think you would like to be a member of “The Sunday Philosopher’s Club” you will probably enjoy the Isabel Dalhousie novels by Alexander McCall Smith. The relaxed pace of these novels befits a Sunday philosopher’s club (also the title of the first book in the series) as Isabel spends a great deal of time judging the moral and ethical implications of everyone’s decisions, particularly her own. While McCall Smith is more known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency mysteries, this series gives him a chance to explore his native Scotland, particularly Edinburgh, while inventing more of the quirky characters he is known for. The titles should be read in order, as we get to see Isabel grow and change throughout the series. Isabel agonizes over her choices and philosophizes about the complications in her life.

The humor is more subtle than that in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and the mysteries are only incidental to the stories, as this series is also about the characters and their relationships. The Charming Quirks of Others finds Isabel investigating three candidates for the headmaster’s position at a local school. A letter has been received, which hints at scandal and Isabel must determine which of the three finalists has a skeleton in his closet. We also gain insight into her relationship with her much younger fiancée, Jamie, as they talk more seriously about marriage. And as usual, Isabel learns much about herself in the process.

~ Becky, Adult Services

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