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Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander…
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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
I love the writing style of Alexander McCall Smith.

However, this book fell short. The main character of this book annoyed me. She is a philosopher and we are told over and over that she must think about the ethical implications of everything she does. But she thinks about the ethical implications in a mundane and simplistic way.

Definitely not my favorite book written by Alexander McCall Smith. ( )
  KamGeb | Jul 3, 2016 |
The eponymous first book in Alexander McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series humbled me.

The second installment in the series, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, expanded my musical horizons by introducing me to Many Waters Cannot Quench Love and John Ireland, for which I will be eternally grateful.

More than that, however, once again I found myself happily mentally noshing on the philosophical and ethical conundrums presented to Isabel throughout the book. Although Isabel certainly meddles, this time a a man with a heart transplant asks her for help when he begins to have visions of what he may believe may be his donor's murderer. Questions of cellular memory, the afterlife (and being open-minded enough to grant at least the possibility of an afterlife legitimacy), and even romance arise as Isabel finds herself drawn into her new friend's problem. Meanwhile, Isabel is forced to confront her feelings for Jamie (at least to some degree) and even indulges her less philosophical and ethical side, deftly preventing from becoming a boring Mary Sue and nicely shading in some depth to her character.

Once again, McCall Smith has given us a Scottish cozy that I enjoyed like a delicious, but messy pastry. At the end, there were some crumbs left, and like so many of Life's philosophical questions, the answer wasn't neat and tidy. But the path to finding it was satisfying as ever. From her niece Kat's shop to a rural bookstore, McCall's talent for drawing a reader into an environment with wholly believable characters makes this another successful installment.

I am beginning to love these books for what they are. Often, I pause reading to Google a word (few books challenge my vocabulary, but both of these installments have), a song, even an instrument (in this case, the contrabasoon). I always learn something and, because the ethical questions presented are interesting (even when they're the "fake" ones Isabel reviews for The Journal of Applied Ethics), just getting to mull those over is a bit like being able to continue to read while doing something else like the dishes.

The books are also a welcome respite when I need a break from many of the darker authors I read such as Denise Mina, Charles Todd, Tana French or Alex Grecian. The are cozies, a sub-genre I admit with chagrin I likely would still be snobbishly dismissing were it not for this series.

I was planning to read these around Christmas time every year, since my husband gifted himself into that tradition, but I already have the third installment and highly doubt I'll be able to wait that long this time.

You can find this review (with hyperlinks) and reviews of many other character series mysteries, primarily by British and Irish authors, on my blog at bodyonthefloor.blogspot.com ( )
  Shutzie27 | Mar 21, 2016 |
I rarely read something this boring... which is a shame since I really liked other things I read from this author ( )
  CathCD | Jan 16, 2016 |
Book on CD performed by Davinia Porter

Book #2 in the Isabel Dalhousie series has Isabel contemplating mysteries of the heart – literally and figuratively. When her niece, Cat, asks her to look after the delicatessen while Cat is on holiday, Isabel meets a man with a very interesting problem. He has recently had a heart transplant and now is experiencing strange dreams / memories of things that never happened to him.

This has been languishing on my tbr for quite some time. I read the first book in the series - The Sunday Philosophy Club back in 2009 and wasn’t very impressed. I think that was probably because I was expecting Precious Ramotswe, which was an unfair expectation. Having no such expectations this time, I liked this one much better. I enjoy the philosophical / ethical / moral dilemmas (both real and imagined) that Isabel contemplates. And I really like her relationship with the various characters – Cat, Ian, Jamie, Grace, et al.

One of my favorite quotes comes when Isabel is thinking back on a childhood memory and begins to remember her mother: “…her mother, whose face she saw sometimes at night, in her dreams, as if she had never gone away, and who was still there, as we often think of the dead, in the background, like a cloud of love, against which weather we conduct our lives.” A cloud of love, against which weather we conduct our lives – I just love that image.

There really isn’t much mystery here, and I wouldn’t categorize it in that genre. But it is a gentle, thoughtful read with endearing characters and some food for thought.

Davinia Porter does a fine job performing the audio, with good pacing and sufficient skill as a voice artist to differentiate the characters.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
This was my first Isabel Dalhousie mystery and so far it was an enjoyable listening. It looks like that Miss Isabel gets involved in a lot of things. Be it the love life of her niece, the life of her niece's ex-lover or finding the heart donor's next because she mets a stranger who is telling her about his new heart and that he thinks to be haunted by his precursor's feelings. She gets mixed up about everything and stumbles across her own not to the end intended thoughts but in the end she gets everything solved. ( )
  Ameise1 | Aug 23, 2015 |
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For Angus and Fiona Foster
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The man in the brown Harris tweed overcoat ... made his way slowly along the street that led down the spine of Edinburgh
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Book group Feb 2007, Dissappointing,
As a fan of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency I was looking forward to similar in Edinburgh. This book lacks all credibility, where I recognised the atmosphere of Gaberone the Edinburgh described bears no resemblance to reality. Isabel has got to be the most unbelievable character with whom I failed have a shred of empathy. While the quasi philosophical musings were mildly engaging the plot had a number of potentially interesting threads which failed to develop.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375422994, Hardcover)


Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective.  Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction’s most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answers to all of life’s questions, large and small.

In this delightful second installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling new detective series, the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, gets caught up in an affair of the heart—this one a transplant.

When Isabel’s niece, Cat, asks Isabel to run her delicatessen while she attends a wedding in Italy, Isabel meets a man with a most interesting problem. He recently had a heart transplant and is suddenly plagued with memories of events that never happened to him. The situation appeals to Isabel as a philosophical question: Is the heart truly the seat of the soul? And it piques her insatiable curiosity: Could the memories be connected with the donor’s demise? Of course, Grace—Isabel’s no-nonsense housekeeper—and Isabel’s friend Jamie think it is none of Isabel’s business. Meanwhile, Cat brings home an Italian lothario, who, in accordance with all that Isabel knows about Italian lotharios, shouldn’t be trusted . . . but, goodness, he is charming.

That makes two mysteries of the heart to be solved—just the thing for Isabel Dalhousie.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:25 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The delightful second installment in McCall Smith's already hugely popular new detective series, "The Sunday Philosophy Club," stars the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie--editor of the "Journal of Applied Ethics"--and her no-nonsense housekeeper, Grace.… (more)

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