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The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) Hardcover – 2 Oct 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (2 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408700654
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408700655
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful 'No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.

In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' - a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.

Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

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

Book Description

* More delightful philosophical musings from Isabel Dalhousie, Edinburgh philosopher and amateur sleuth

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 100 REVIEWER on 31 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
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 By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Nov. 2008
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 By Aletheuon TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
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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