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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Subtle Look at Obligations to Others and How to Recover from Mistakes
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...
Published on 31 Oct 2008 by Donald Mitchell

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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best in the series, but still worth reading
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...
Published on 31 Oct 2008 by Julia Flyte


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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best in the series, but still worth reading, 31 Oct 2008
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Subtle Look at Obligations to Others and How to Recover from Mistakes, 31 Oct 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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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 (UK) - See all my reviews
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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 (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) (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.
Perhaps the reason that the African books seems so much more fascinating is that they open up a wonderful, colourful culture and maybe what seems like a peculiarly African approach to life is actually AMcS's perception of life. Or perhaps growing up in Africa gave AMcS respect for certain ways of perceiving the world and taught him to think similarly. There is immense charm to the No I DA books which, for me, is singularly missing from the vaguely philosophical meanderings of the Isabel Dalhousie series. I'd like to appreciate these gentle, moral books. If I can stay awake...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Isabel shows her needy side..., 17 Aug 2010
By 
This review is from: The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) (Paperback)
I always look forward to settling down with the next Isabel Dalhousie. But I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one. I love the character of Isabel - someone who takes the time to ponder the little mysteries of everyday life and the interesting foibles of those around her. This time, however, I felt that there was perhaps a little too much pondering and not enough doing.

Don't get me wrong - there is still a 'case' for Isabel to get her teeth into (this time it involves a doctor who has been accused of tinkering with the results of a clinical drug trial and inadverently causing a man's death). Any mystery that Isabel has to solve is always rather secondary and that's usually fine by me.

But, so much of Isabel's thought processes here were centred on her own (very fortunate) situation rather than her fellow man. For the first time she came across as self-indulgent and dare I say it a little whiny too. 'Does Jamie love her? Will he get bored of her? Does he prefer spending time with the other musicians he plays with?' As one or two of the more minor characters point out to her, she needs to just accept the very good hand that life has dealt her and stop questioning it. I can see that the author probably just wanted to show that Isabel is as fallible as the rest of us but I just felt the balance was weighted too much on the side of reflective meanderings this time.

On the plus side, one of the joys of AMcS's series is catching up with old friends again. And it was good to see that Isabel's niece is still trying to meet her Mr Right but looking in all the wrong places. I also enjoyed getting to spend more time with Eddie and find out a little more about him too. I hope he will feature in future novels. He's an intriguing character.

All things considered, I would say this isn't the best in the series but I will still be reading the next one. After all, everyone should be allowed a day when they can wallow, even Isabel!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A relaxing read, 7 Dec 2009
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This review is from: The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) (Paperback)
When I started reading this book I realised that I had missed two earlier books in the series. I enjoyed this one so much that I am now eagerly awaiting the missing volumes! I liked the quirkiness of the book and the fact that you could relate to the main characters and the difficulties they faced. The writer is able to put forward both sides of such issues as the relationship between Isabel and Jamie so that you can understand and sympathise with them both.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Comfort of Reading an Alexander McCall Smith Book, 22 Dec 2008
By 
Tealady2000 (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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I have grown to love the Isabel Dalhousie books - they are so easy to read yet quite profound in their way, with their philosophical musings on all aspects of life. And as a bonus they are set in the wonderful City of Edinburgh. In this book, our heroine has a mystery to deal with, concerning the alleged fabrication of data during the trial of a potentially revolutionary new antibiotic. She also has to cope with the fallout from her takeover of the Journal of Applied Ethics in the form of a sub-standard article submitted by her rival Christopher Dove. As usual Isabel is able to analyse the motives of others with remarkable clear-sightedness, yet she reveals herself to be totally human in her failure to fight off her jealousy of those who demand the attention of her partner Jamie. I have no idea how Alexander McCall Smith manages to convey the nuances of the female psyche so effectively, but it makes for delightful entertainment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally Jamie feels like a 3 Dimensional character!, 12 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) (Paperback)
I started reading this book with a little bit of trepidation since I didn't really like number 4 in the series, but I really loved this book. Not at all because the so call "mystery" in this novel was interesting because it really wasn't and had an ambivalent solution.

No, what mad me love this book was the fact that Jamie, Isabel Dalhousie's (main character) 14 year younger boyfriend, finally became a man of flesh and blood in this book. The author finally lets him show emotions. He lets him have thoughts about Isabel that us readers get to share. He finally lets us know what Jamie feels about Isabel. And THAT was a great comfort. Before their relationship has been so businesslike that cold has seeped from the pages.

Of course the niece Cat is back in this book, being rude as usual, and this time accusing Isabel for having got pregnant to trap Jamie in the relationship. And Grace is still trying to make baby Charlie HER baby but I really enjoyed to read about Jamie putting his foot down about that.

I also REALLY enjoyed reading about how people have started to tell Isabel to let go of the age difference between her and Jamie. It is getting VERY tedious to read about it in every chapter BUT I have finally with this book also accepted that it must be on a woman's mind constantly if she is in a situation like Isabel's since our society is non-accepting of older woman-younger man relationships. To drag it out over three books though is a little too much and either the author needs to let go of it NOW or let Jamie go, do what Isabel fears the most, him leaving her because of her age.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant but uninteresting, 24 April 2010
By 
Ransen Owen (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) (Paperback)
This book trudges along with no real plot, just gentle observations and soft hints about philosophy.

Inoffensive but there was just enough tension to get me to the end of the story. I'll not be buying any more books in the series.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Subtle Look at Obligations to Others and How to Recover from Mistakes, 12 Dec 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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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The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels)
The Comfort Of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) by Alexander McCall Smith (Paperback - 15 Oct 2009)
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