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Socrates would have no complaint,
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This review is from: The Forgotten Affairs Of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) (Hardcover)
The latest episode of Alexander McCall-Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series continues the meandering life of the protagonist and her circle through the author's beloved hometown of Edinburgh. Much of the novel is spent on Isabel's moment-to-moment examination of what is happening in her mostly tranquil and almost golden life. This, I think, is McCall's core purpose for the series--to call attention to the need to think about each moment of life, take running readings of moral direction and savor the individual moments whenever possible. Socrates' observation about the "unexamined life not being worth living" clearly made an impression on the ethicist author at some point in his life.
But it is legitimate to raise the question of whether this ultra-sensitive approach to living makes for a good story. I would argue that it does. I think what saves Isabel's character from being tiresome in this running pursuit of "the golden rule" is that she constantly comes away from her often minute assessments with a clear and profound gratitude for the good things that have come her way and, infrequently the understanding and acknowledgement that no one can control every aspect of life.
To be sure, McCall-Smith has mounted a few small challenges for Isabel in "The Forgotten...". The most gritty of them is posed by a semi-poisonous mushroom that ultimately leads to a rift with her niece after first giving Isabel a look into the abyss. Sleuth Isabel also jumps into a missing parent question brought to her by an Australian academic who was given up for adoption as an infant. The affair has a bittersweet but satisfactory resolution that provides its own lesson for living.
"The Forgotten Affairs of Youth" moves at a sedate pace and offers few moments of frisson or conflict, but admirers of the series and of the author's insights and purpose will enjoy this episode as part of the larger saga of Isabel and modern Edinburgh (in my opinion).
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Sep 2013 21:37:25 BDT
kooky ju says:
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2013 02:20:56 BDT
Blue in Washington says:
Dear KJ - Very kind of you to say so. Hope you enjoy the series as much as I do (mostly). Regards, Barry
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