Top positive review
46 people found this helpful
6 out of 5
on 30 August 2007
In my humble opinion the Isabel Dalhousie series are Alexander McCall Smith's best novels, and exceed even the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, which are brilliant.
His characters are utterly engaging and his portrayal of Edinburgh and Scotland so gentle, real and colourful I love reading these novels. His prose falls off the page painting beautiful pictures and characters which come to life as the reader turns the page!
It is difficult to explain what I love so much about this series, but I will try... I imagine Mr McCall Smith reading this and laughing as maybe I have got it all horribly wrong, but it seems to me that there is much left unsaid in these tales, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions. Life is seen through Isabel's eyes and a series of seemingly inconsequential events and conversations are cleverly woven together.
Isabel continues to believe that the age difference between herself and Jamie means he cannot love her quite enough to really want to marry her, and that he has `settled' for something rather less than Isabel's extremely self centred niece Cat, who dumped him in a (much) earlier novel. This particular reader believes that Jamie loves and respects Isabel very much, but fear of being thought a gold digger prevents him from pressing her further into formalising their relationship. In any case, they seem to have settled into a very satisfactory arrangement that defies definition and is warm and caring but still keeps the spark between them very much alive.
The introduction of Charlie, which I (oh so wrongly!) thought would never work, has brought further interest into Isabel's relationship with her housekeeper Grace as they subtly battle for authority over child care and gripe water, and many more opportunities for comedy as Isabel introduces him to her friends. And are those `oh so cute' tartan rompers for real or is Mr Smith really taking the mickey here?
Isabel's involvement with the `Review of Applied Ethics' continues and develops and there is a puzzle to be solved concerning two paintings which Isabel suspects are forgeries.
As the reviews say, it is `mental comfort food' which `captivates' and `enthrals'.