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The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) [Paperback]

Alexander McCall Smith
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Oct 2009 Isabel Dalhousie Novels (Book 5)

Isabel Dalhousie is a new mother and a connoisseur of philosophy; she'd rather not be a sleuth. But when a chance conversation at a dinner party draws her into the case of a doctor whose career has been ruined, she cannot ignore what may be a miscarriage of justice. Because for Isabel ethics are not theoretical at all, but an everyday matter of life and death.

As she attempts to unravel the truth behind Dr Thompson's disgrace, Isabel's patient intelligence is also required to deal with challenges in her own life. There is her baby son Charlie; Cat's deli to look after, not to mention her vulnerable assistant Eddie; and a mysterious and unlikeable composer who has latched on to Jamie, making Isabel fear for the future of her new family.

Isabel treads a difficult path between trust and gullibility, philanthropy and interference, while keeping in her sights the small but certain comforts of family, philosophy and a fine Saturday morning.

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The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) + The Lost Art Of Gratitude (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) + The Charming Quirks Of Others: 7 (Isabel Dalhousie Novels)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (15 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349120552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349120553
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Following a distinguished career as a Professor of Medical Law, Alexander McCall Smith has turned to writing full-time. He is the author of over sixty books on a wide array of subjects, and his books have been translated into forty-two languages. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife.

Product Description


PRAISE FOR THE CAREFUL USE OF COMPLIMENTS ** 'The No. 2 Lady Detective ... anyone who loves Precious cannot fail to be charmed' MAIL ON SUNDAY ** 'McCall Smith has the gift of evoking an entire social atmosphere in very few and simple words' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH ** 'McCall Smith's greatest gift as a writer - and God knows this is just one of many - is that he can write likeable characters' NEW STATESMAN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

* An intriguing new mystery for Edinburgh-based philosopher Isabel Dalhousie

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
The Comfort of Saturdays is the fifth book in the "Sunday Philosophy Club" series, which feature Isabel Dalhousie, philosopher and occasional amateur sleuth. I should say at the outset that I adore this series. Isabel is a very likeable character with lovely little observations about life and its everyday moral dilemmas. But having said that, this is the book that I have liked least in the series to date. It felt like Isabel spent too much time thinking and not enough doing, to the detriment of the book's momentum.

The story picks up a year after "The Careful Use of Compliments". Isabel and Jamie's son Charlie is now 15 months old. One thing that felt wrong to me as a mother was Isabel's relationship with Charlie, which seemed very functional. She spends so many hours fretting about Jamie - does Jamie love her? is he happy? is she at risk of losing him? how can someone so beautiful want to be with her? - while she seems far less interested in her own son.

The book opens well. Isabel is asked to investigate the circumstances behind a doctor's disgrace over a medical scandal. At the same time, Jamie has developed a friendship with a mysterious composer by the name of Nick Smart. However it felt like McCall Smith lost interest in both of these storylines, which get pushed to the back and never get fully resolved. Instead we spend a lot of time with Isabel and her insecurities. For the first time we see sides of Isabel which are not very appealing: for example she harbours a grudge over a loan that she has made and is quick to pass judgement on Eddie's girlfriend based on the way she looks.

Despite all of this, McCall Smith is still a lovely writer. I always feel a little lighter in spirit after reading his books. The Edinburgh settings are captivating and Isabel has an original and refreshing take on life.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
If you haven't read any of the earlier books in this series, don't start with this one. Without the entire back story, many of the subtleties in the story will be lost.

Alexander McCall Smith continues his thoughtful investigation of the social contract and doing the right thing to others in a moral sense. Isabel Dalhousie, being portrayed as a mere human who knows ethics, struggles on behalf of us all with jealousy, regret, sloth, and concern for the hurting. How should we react?

In this story, Isabel finds that her worries about losing Jamie seem to be growing. She continues to keep barriers between them while wanting to take the barriers down. Social engagements with people her age are particularly uncomfortable. She feels particularly threatened by Jamie's new friendship with a young composer, Nick Smart.

Isabel is shocked to find that her old foe, Christopher Dove, is trying to manipulate her into publishing an article in the Journal of Applied Ethics. She grits her teeth at the effort required to treat Dove fairly.

After a dinner party, Isabel is approached by the wife of a disgraced medical researcher to see if Isabel will try to find some way to rehabilitate the researcher's reputation. Isabel is no Miss Marple, and her efforts lead her in an unexpected direction.

Between the major plot lines, Isabel takes great pleasure in her son, Charlie, her peaceful life, helping Cat out while she visits Sri Lanka, and looking to help those in need without hurting anyone's feelings. That last challenge is more difficult than she imagines.

As always, the story exudes joie de vivre, affection for Edinburgh, pleasure in the company of others, and happiness in trying to do the right thing. It's a nice recipe for brightening up your day . . . so that even a rainy Saturday can look like heaven on Earth.

Enjoy your life!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasurable read that makes you think 14 Nov 2008
By Bluebell TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've really got into this series, of which this book is the fifth, and look forward to further instalments in the life of Isabel Dalhousie. She is such a likeable and honourable character that you want things to go well for her. McCall Smith writes convincingly and sympathetically about her feelings. I've never been a fan of philosophy, but the author manages to interweave moral conundrums naturally into the story such that it makes one think about the issues. I find the Philosophy Club series (and his Scotland Street books) an antidote to the crime fiction that I also enjoy as the former portray the nicer side life. An added pleasure is the descriptions of familiar streets and shops in Edinburgh. I would recommend that readers start at the beginning of the series as each book partly relies on the back-story of the previous one(s) and you do get more out of this fifth book is you know the full background.
I noticed that there is another book by the author called "The Comfort of a Muddy Saturday", which from the blurb is the same story as this book of approximately the same name.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Have I missed the point? 4 Oct 2011
By Aletheuon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Have I missed the point? I love the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I love amateur philosophising and psychologising and even know something about these activities on a more professional level. I love Alexander McCall Smith's tolerant, gently humorous approach. Yet I find these books about Isabel Dalhousie, philosopher and seeker of moral truth, and her cosy world, almost completely boring. I feel the same about the Scotland Street books. It is analogous to walking along your own street, meeting people you know and hearing snatches of their conversations - it is both familiar and superficial. Nothing emerges that you really want to know.Nothing about their lives really interests you. I have read other reviews of this book with interest and learn that they are a subtle examination of the social contract and a psychological examination of the characters. Eh? I did miss the point, then. Too subtle for me.
Part of the problem is that AMcS obviously admires women and often chooses them as his central characters. However, he does not (in my opinion) describe their inner lives in a way that a woman can relate to. Isabel obsesses about Jamie and seems only mildly interested in her baby,despite being genuinely committed to caring for him. This is a weakness of the wonderful Precious Ramotswe books, too. The children do not seem to cause their mothers much inconvenience and do not emerge as real characters. They are just there and occasionally do things before considerately fading into the background. Real women obsess about their children, or at least, they do if they are not inadequate or monstrous. They discuss every detail of the development, immense talents and overwhelming demands. Real children are highly inconvenient and demand all that their mothers have to give - and then some.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Wonderful sequel to a great series
Published 2 days ago by Leslie S
5.0 out of 5 stars The Comfort of a Dalhousie Book
The comfort of Saturdays for me is an Isabel Dalhousie novel and thus one doesn't disappoint. Once again a pleasure to become part of her daily life in Edinburgh. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Lyndy Lou
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Can't beat AMS books.
Published 25 days ago by Hunny
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as its predecessors
As good as its predecessors, which are fabulous. It is wonderful to have such good company at hand at all times of day and night.
Published 1 month ago by mrs T
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as good as previous, but hopeful....
I'm a huge fan of this series of books. After a few years of not reading them I dipped back in - this book was a bit disappointing, it felt like a bridging book with no real... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ms. G. Jenkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Isabel has such charm and calming influence
I really enjoy McCall Smith's books and the Isabel Dalhousie series is lovely. The books are beautifully written. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Benita
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Comfortable Read
As usual this was a good read from Sandy. We continued our gentle stroll through a particular segment of contemporary Edinburgh and discussed moral philosophy and ethical dilemmas... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Martin Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars The next instalment of the story of Isabel Dalhousie
Another fascinating and gentle tale of upper middle class Edinburgh life. I recommend all these books to friends and relations as they chronicle many of the problems that we have... Read more
Published 6 months ago by M B PAYNE
5.0 out of 5 stars Gently entertaining
Another gentle meander through Edinburgh, and looking through the eyes of the central character, Isabel Dalhouie. She leads a mannerly life. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mrs Linda Mapp
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort of Saturdays
I have seen this also called The comfort of Muddy Saturdays. Another gripping and funny episode in the lives of Dear Isabele, Jamie, Cat, Eddie and assorted regulars, not... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Pyogenes Gruffer
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