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Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) [Paperback]

Alexander McCall Smith
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Feb 2013 Isabel Dalhousie Novels (Book 2)
Isabel Dalhousie thinks often of friends, sometimes of lovers, and on occasion of chocolate. As an Edinburgh philosopher she is certain of where she stands. She can review a book called In Praise of Sin with panache and conviction, but real life is... well, perhaps a bit more challenging - particularly when it comes to her feelings for Jamie, a younger man who should have married her niece, Cat. Jamie's handsomeness leaves Isabel feeling distinctly uneasy, and ethically disturbed. 'I am a philosopher', she thinks, 'but I am also a woman'. And more disturbance is in store. When Cat takes a break in Italy, Isabel agrees to run her delicatessen. One of the customers, she discovers, has recently had a heart transplant and is now being plagued by memories that cannot be rationally explained and which he feels do not belong to him. Isabel is intrigued. So intrigued that she finds herself rushing headlong into a dangerous investigation. But she still has time to think about the things that possess her - things like love and friendship, and, of course, temptation. The last of these comes in many forms - chocolate, for example, or seductive Italians...

Frequently Bought Together

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) + The Right Attitude To Rain (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) + The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie Novels)
Price For All Three: £18.87

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (7 Feb 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0349139423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349139425
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,004 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

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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful! 28 July 2006
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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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By Brolyn
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubled Feelings Lead to Investigations 17 Oct 2007
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Problematic 8 Nov 2009
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful! 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Love the setting in Scotland and wonderful characters
Love the setting in Scotland and wonderful characters.
Published 8 days ago by Leslie S
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the characters and its a thoroughly good holiday read
couldn't put it down and have already ordered the next!! Love the characters and its a thoroughly good holiday read... nothing too taxing but plenty to keep your interest!
Published 1 month ago by shopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Until The End
Loved this book as much as the first and look forward to the rest in the series. McCall Smith is a master of conversation and it is a delight to read a piece of writing that has... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lyndy Lou
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric
Love the relaxed, happy atmosphere evoked in this book, also with some interesting puzzles explored in questions of moral phlosophy
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. C. J. Baldwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the Isabel Dalhousie series
This is the second book in the series, and is an undemanding, amusing read. If you like Alexander McCall I'm sure you would enjoy this.
Published 6 months ago by Ruth Mitchell
3.0 out of 5 stars sudden end
Isabel Dalhousie is someone that I think would irritate the pants off me in real life but I do enjoy reading about her. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. N. E. Keens
5.0 out of 5 stars Friends Lovers, Chocolates
Another gripping and funny episode in the lives of Dear Isabele, Jamie, Cat, Eddie and assorted regulars, not forgetting Bro Fox. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Pyogenes Gruffer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book but a few type setting errors.
This is a great Sunday Philosophers Club story, as usual very well written. There a re a number of places with missing spaces, joining adjacent words which rather spoils the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by BrightonGuy
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
An enjoyable read. Alexander Mcall Smith is a constant delight and I have enjoyed every one of his books that I have read..
Published 9 months ago by M B PAYNE
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable, intelligent story
A gentle, engaging read. I would love to have the follow up novel that I ordered - The Careful Use of Compliments to carry on with. I like Alexander McCall Smith books.
Published 10 months ago by Margaret Swinyard
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