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The Forgotten Affairs Of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie Novels) Hardcover – 1 Sep 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408703394
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408703397
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.5 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 279,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Every bit as charming as his No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency." --Margaret Cannon, "The Globe and Mail" "Alexander McCall Smith novels never fail to delight...The Forgotten Affairs of Youth [is] no exception, with its gentle humour and philosophical musings." --"The Guardian""Life is full of mystery, and for Alexander McCall Smith even everyday enigmas can provide a compelling challenge for the engaged observer. That same principle holds true in the Isabel Dalhousie series.... Along the way, readers get to soak up the cozy atmosphere of this Scottish university town and McCall Smith's gentle good will.... Soothing." --"The Boston Globe" "You needn't be a series-long admirer of Isabel Dalhousie to be beguiled by this curious philosopher and casual sleuth." --"Publishers Weekly" "There is plenty of quiet humour and gentle satire in this engaging novel.... Refreshingly upbeat." --"Otago Daily Times" (New Zealand)"In its own way, McCall Smith's world is as stylized and hermetic as those created by P.G. Wodehouse or Damon Runyon--a sweet and timeless bubble with its own morality, language and customs. Entering it can be a source of great comfort in these uncertain times." --"The Seattle Times" "To say McCall Smith is a literary phenomenon doesn't quite describe what has happened. He has become more of a movement, a worldwide club for the dissemination of gentle wisdom and good cheer. . . . They make a splash of colour in a drab world and provide a genial buffer against the disappointments of life." --"The Telegraph" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

* The wonderful new Isabel Dalhousie

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read and enjoyed all the books in this series and looked forward to reading this latest one. If you've been following the the Sunday Philosophy Club books it's probably worth reading, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who new to the series as the substance of the "detective" element is very slight: most of the pleasure coming from knowing the back-stories of the characters from past books and meeting them again. In previous books I was impressed how deftly the author incorporated philosophical discussions into the narrative such that it seemed natural and unforced, whereas in this book I felt the philosophical analysis of moral issues was the driver of the story. The latter involving a visiting Australian philosopher, Jane, who was adopted at birth by a Scottish couple who emigrated to the antipodes. Jane desires to find out about her birth parents and involves Isabel Dalhousie in her quest. Much of the book diverges from the quest and meanders along with visits to concerts, coffee shops and the day-to day life of Isabel, her partner Jamie and their son Charlie. All pleasant enough and rather like hearing about what old friends have been doing since you last saw them. I probably enjoy these books more because I know Edinburgh well. I lived and worked in the area where Isabel "lives" and when she visits University departments in George Square it brings back memories of when I studied there. My second favorite series is the Scotland Street books, again set in Edinburgh, but find the very similar series, Corduroy Mansions, set in London less enjoyable as the locations mean nothing to me.
I wonder if the author is writing too many series simultaneously and is losing steam by this eighth book in the series.
I think the cover illustration is the best in the series: it's splendid.
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By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is the eighth book about Edinburgh-based philosopher and occasional sleuth Isabel Dalhousie. Reading this series, I sometimes wonder if Alexander McCall Smith has a little competition with himself when he writes each book, to see if he can get away with even less of a plot than in the previous installment. Certainly in this instance the main plot is very sparse and takes up maybe a quarter of the book. It's about Isabel helping an Australian philosopher who is tracking to track down her birth father. The remainder of the book is filled with Isabel's philosophical musings, her relationship with the lacklustre Jamie and the obligatory appearances by the usual long-running characters. I know that this is part of the literary comfort food appeal of the series, but I couldn't help feeling that I'd read it all before. Once again Isabel visits Guy Peploe and discusses landscape paintings. Once again Grace reports back on the events from a seance. Once again Brother Fox lurks in the bushes. Once again Cat is attracted to an unsuitable man. Once again Charlie likes unusual food. I hate to admit it, but I got bored.

Writing this, I realise that you could lobby the same accusations of repetitive formulas at the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, but somehow those books seem to hold their charm. I wonder if part of the problem is that none of the secondary characters in this series are terribly interesting or ever seem to evolve in any way. I particularly find Isabel's relationship with dreary Jamie to be devoid of any spark (although I was relieved that at least she appears to have given up fretting about whether she is worthy of him).
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