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The Sunday Philosophy Club [Unknown Binding]

2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B002C0VIVQ
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,411,819 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle and thought-provoking 9 July 2008
By Bluebell TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've only recently sampled this McCall Smith series having found the Number 1 Ladies Detective Series too twee for my tastes. The heroine of the Philosophy Club series, Isabel Dalhousie, is a charming and interesting character who engages the reader to care about what happens in her life. The story-lines have several strands: her personal life; her amateur sleuthing; and her occupation as an editor of a philosophy journal. This last theme allows the author to explore aspects of moral philosophy and ethics (his own professional background). In the past I've tended to find writings about philosophy tedious, but the way the author incorporates philosophical issues into the fabric of these stories makes the ideas come alive. For those of us who know Edinburgh, reading about all the familiar streets and shops gives added pleasure. This is not a book based on realistic crime detection, such as Ian Rankin's Rebus series: it's more in the Simon Brett/ Agatha Christie camp.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE
The Sunday Philosophy Club is the beginning of a new series featuring the middle-aged and single Isabel Dalhousie. I'm going to confess right from the start that I did not take to Isabel as a character. In part, this is because I found that she rather stretched belief. She's an independently wealthy, middle-aged woman (who married the love of her life, only to be left by him) who has retained her looks but who isn't pursuing a relationship and who also happens to be a philosopher. I don't doubt that there are women like this in real life, but it is an awful lot to take in in what's actually quite a short book (coming in at just under 300 pages) and I did think that McCall Smith leveraged in the backstory with her lover John Liamor a little too obviously. Given that this is to be a series, I think that some of the backstory could have been alluded to so as to give the reader the idea that there's more to come before being drawn out in later novels. As it is, I'm not sure that there's enough left to discover about Isabel that would keep me reading.

It's a shame that I didn't take to Isabel given that the book is really about her and her thoughts on modern day society. In fact, I thought that the summary on the back of the book was a little misleading because whilst the novel does begin with a death (which I thought was conveyed in a really believable manner, complete with a lovely touch about how the victim's shirt has risen up as he falls to expose his midrift), Isabel's investigations are really almost an afterthought - a thin skeleton on which to hang the characterisation.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Isabel isn't Precious! 6 Oct 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mma Ramotswe was always going to be a hard act to follow and, wisely, Alexander McCall Smith has set his new series as far away from Botwana as possible. I anticipated that his new heroine would share some of Precious Ramotswe's intuitive understanding of human nature. However, Isabel Dalhousie is an academic - a philosopher, much give to musing over the dicta of Hume, Kant et al. Quite hard for the ordinary reader to relate to. She's a very privileged woman, even by the standards of Morningside (the 'posh' part of Edinburgh) where ladies who lunch lurk behind the net curtains and no-one would be seen dead sending their kids to a state school! The world of academe, the law and high finance is a far cry from the dusty streets of Gaborone - so why did this Scots reviewer feel so much less at home in the Scottish capital?
The characters seem to me to lack warmth (mind you, so does Edinburgh) and his ear for dialogue seems to have deserted the author, even in Isabel's exchanges with her beloved niece, Cat. Even in Edinburgh, surely they don't use the impersonal 'one' all the time! There is quite a lot of interior monologue with the heroine mulling over the situation and thinking about her past (not all past) love of a husband long gone to California. The one character who, I thought, had the potential for development and more humorous treatment, is Grace, Isabel's housekeeper, devoted to her employer and to Cat, but never mincing words or shrinking from expressing an opinion - also a severe critic of Edinburgh's public transport!

In short, I was disappointed with this novel because I couldn't relate to the characters, nor could I get excited by the plot which wended a rather wearisome way through the novel and was occasionally lost sight of completely while Isabel interfered with her niece's love life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars edinburgh is the star 4 Jan 2009
I was "warned off" this series by a friend who said it was dire compared to the Scotland Street books - decided to give it a try, and really enjoyed the first novel.

I don't think it matters whether Isabel is true to life - I personally don't know any single women philosophers with daily housekeepers! - novels are supposed to be at least partly an escapre from our daily round, and I love the fact that Isabel's affluence leaves her free to wander about thinking her thoughts and moving through Edinburgh society.

The book is not as laugh out loud amusing as 44 Scotland Street and its successors, but it still kept me turning the pages - I was honestly not too bothered about the whodunit aspect, what I enjoyed was the evocation of Edinburgh life coupled with the consideration of moral questions. There are very few writers who raise these issues, especially in "light" novels, and I felt that Mr McCall Smith managed to introduce them in a very entertaining and unfusty way.

The character I found least convincing was Cat - but maybe that's just because I don't think i would like her very much if she existed. I loved Jamie - and I have to admit that I am a middle-aged woman! I don't think he is wet, and I don't think it's unbelievable that he would wish to socialise with an older woman, with our without any sexual undertones.

I don't find Mr McCall Smith's dialogue very "realistic" in either this or the Scotland Street books - but that's part of the attraction for me, I think he writes beautifully and I only wish people would talk as he writes; I don't want to read writing reflecting the appalling way that most of us speak!

I've just started Friends, Lovers Chocolate, and so far it's even better.

I think you either love this writer or you don't. I do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift
I brought this for a gift for my dear mum and now she wants the whole series! Great reading couldn't pull her away
Published 2 months ago by LOUISA BLACK
5.0 out of 5 stars Another McCall Smith winner.
An unlikely tale made absolutely plausible. I wish I had a degree in philosophy! A real page turner. I could not put it down.
Published 9 months ago by The Lass from Lauder
1.0 out of 5 stars Precious Ramotswe is far more philosophical
If you are thinking of buying this book because like me you love the Ladies One Detective agency then for heaven's sake don't. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Nemo James - Singer Songwriter
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read
Although I took a while to get into it, I enjoyed reading this book. But in my opinion this series is not quite as good as the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books.
Published 10 months ago by Christina DK
4.0 out of 5 stars Justice Will Out
One may be said to philosophise, holding up a handful of ethical standards to live by (or not necessarily live by)and not by any stretch be a philosopher. Read more
Published 11 months ago by MVW
2.0 out of 5 stars Ouch
After the 44 SStreet and Ramotswe series of books this was an empty and soulless piece of directionless fluff. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Kilrymont
4.0 out of 5 stars good
arrived when it should have. This was a present so can't say if the book was good or not sorry!
Published 12 months ago by JR
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunday Philosophy Club
I think this is a good story with likeable and believable characters, made even better because I know Edinburgh very well and can walk round the city with Isabel
Published 15 months ago by KMMillard
4.0 out of 5 stars Like camomile tea in book-form
Reading an Isabel Dalhousie book is like taking a long soak in a bubble bath. To appreciate the series, you have to have time.

Read the review @ [...]
Published 17 months ago by Coleen1004
1.0 out of 5 stars Give me back those minutes!!!
I picked this up from a swapping library at a campsite in rural Portugal where reading, walking and taking the odd tipple in glorious sunshine are the main delights. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Boris
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