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Friends Lovers Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) Paperback – 1 Jun 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; Export ed edition (1 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349119171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349119175
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1.8 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,170,730 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

Amazon Review

If you've got the key to literary success, it is a risky business indeed to make an abrupt change of subject that may lose you some readers. Has Alexander McCall Smith done this with Friends, Lovers, Chocolate? After all, his much-loved No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series has won him a legion of admirers, with its vividly evoked African settings, quirky plotting and (most of all) his likeable, 'generously proportioned' sleuth Precious Ramotswe. These gentle, indulgently enjoyable books were quite unlike anything else being published today, and found a ready audience. But McCall Smith, not content to rest on his laurels, produced The Sunday Philosophy Club, with a new female detective, the philosopher Isabel Dalhousie. This was a very different kettle of fish, with an Edinburgh setting replacing sultry Botswana, and more philosophical concerns replacing the homely adages. The book was a success, without seducing readers in quite the numbers that the previous series had done. And now we have the second outing for Isabel Dalhousie -- and Friends, Lovers, Chocolate bids fair to cement McCall Smith's new heroine in readers’ affections – though she’ll never replace Precious. Isabel is trying to deal with her uncertain feelings for an attractive young man, Jamie, who is planning to marry her niece, Cat. Things become even more complicated when Cat takes an Italian vacation and asks Isabel to look after her delicatessen. Isabel finds out that one of the customers has had a heart transplant, and seems to be accessing memories that he is convinced belong to another person. As Isabel digs deeper, things suddenly become dangerous. The appeal of the new book is (like its predecessor) more to the mind than the emotions, but it's none the worse for that. McCall Smith's brittle dialogue and situations are as entertainingly off-kilter as ever, and even fans of the ample Precious should put this on their lists. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A wonderfully ingenious plot. McCall Smith writes with a delightful twinkle in his eye (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

A gem of a novel. Isabel [is] on wickedly intelligent and perceptive form (DAILY MIRROR)

Fascinating digressions, diversions and disputes ... roll on volume three (LITERARY REVIEW)

Another delightful read (WATERSTONES BOOK QUARTERLY)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By P. Rio Branco on 28 July 2006
Format: Paperback
A delightful sequel to "The Sunday Philosophy Club". It has an engaging plot and thought-provoking philosophical discussions - a real page-turner! The character of Isabel Dhalousie is further developed - she becomes more real, more human somehow as we read about her weaknesses and inner desires. Having lived in Southern Africa for many years, I became a big fan of the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series because I thought I could recognise many familiar elements in the descriptions of the characters, landscapes and so on. I have never been to Edingurgh or Scotland, and yet I didn't feel left out while reading McCall Smith's (or Isabel's) impressions of the city and the local culture. In fact, it makes me want to go there and experience it first hand. I can't wait for the third book of the series to come out!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Weasel on 29 April 2011
Format: Audio CD
It's hard to believe this book is by the same author as the No1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Where those books are concise and neatly wrought, this is rambling and incoherent. Simple honesty and wisdom are replaced by convoluted, empty moralising, while instead of well-rounded, credible and endearing characters, we're presented with two-dimensional, pompous bores. A conversation with almost anyone in this book would be an ordeal!

Then there's the plot. Strands of storyline either set off one way and then randomly dart off somewhere else, or otherwise go nowhere at all. By the time a plotline has actually caught your attention it turns out it leads nowhere. The frustrating lack of any resolution is compounded by the endless pseudo-philosophical waffle which comes across as nothing more than filler designed to drag the book out to a respectable length. Most of it links only tenuously with the books themes (such as they are), a lot of it is tangential nonsense, and almost ALL of it is incredibly DULL.

In his Mma Ramotswe series, McCall Smith can pack more wit and wisdom into a single page than there is in this entire novel. His stylish and economical style has somehow been replaced by clunky, ponderous waffle that leads you absolutely nowhere and gives you precious little to appreciate along the way.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Brolyn on 12 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
With The Sunday Philosophy Club some would say McCall Smith has created in Isabel Dalhousie a sort of Scottish Ma Ramotswe. Physically, culturally and geographically they are worlds apart- but at their core is a deep and sensitive morality and an innate curiousity about their fellow humans.
Friends Lovers Chocolate has the slow but satisfying quality of its predecessor and promises an interesting scientific plot thread with a transplant patient haunted by what he thinks may be a consequence of cellular memory. Layered with this strand is the continuing story of Jamie, Isabel's young musician friend who longs for a relationship with her niece, Cat. Infused with this is the hint of an affair for Isabel herself with an Italian visitor called Tomasso. Unfortunately this latter sub-plot seems to be brought to a rather abrupt and slightly unsatisfactory ending.
All in all McCall Smith is still on form but as a chocophile I could have done with a little more reference to chocolate and slightly less of the philosophical musings!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
Please be aware that this book is about Alexander McCall Smith's other female detective, Isabel Dalhousie, rather than Precious Ramotswe. For these stories we spend time in Edinburgh rather than Botswana and pursue formal philosophical ideas rather than the culturally based ones in Botswana.

Although there's plenty of philosophy in this book, those considerations don't take place as part of the Sunday Philosophy Club. If you haven't read The Sunday Philosophy Club, I recommend that book to you before you read Friends, Lovers, Chocolate.

As the book opens, Isabel's niece, Cat, is about to go off to a wedding in Italy where Isabel suspects that the bridegroom's family connections in southern Italy might not be the most legal ones. Isabel frets that Cat will find an inappropriate liaison of her own. That fear is realized when an admirer follows Cat back from Italy.

Isabel helps out at Cat's delicatessen while Cat's away, where Isabel ends up sharing a table with Ian. This launches Isabel off into a moral investigation. Ian is a heart donor recipient and has been having troubling dreams that feature a menacing face. What could it mean? Isabel's research puts her into some awkward situations that leave her honestly confused about what the right thing is to do.

At the same time, Isabel finds herself shaken to realize that she may be about to lose her friendship with Jamie. That makes her realize that her feelings for Jamie run deeper than mere friendship, despite the difference in their ages.

As before, many scenes turn out to be quite dramatic as Isabel finds herself unable to resist making the obvious, uncensored comment that cuts across the grain of social convention like a cheese slicer goes through hot brie.

It's good fun . . . but ultimately there's a sense of much ado about nothing that harms the book's appeal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Anstey on 8 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I suppose this is going to be what you might call a mixed review: This book is a light read but addresses philosophical issues; it appeals because of the characters, but then again the characters lead privileged lives that entirely fail to acknowledge the real world; The Edinburgh setting is nicely drawn but it seems that the author's editor has told him to explain every Scots word that he uses (which he does using the same device every time); and so it goes on.

I actually really like this series, but it requires a fair bit of suspension of disbelief: So for me this read is a guilty pleasure, a bit of self-indulgence. That said, if you want an entertaining read with a bit of humour and depth to it, this could be for you.

Suitable for fans of E.F. Benson's Lucia.
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