Emily (whatisbiscuits) wrote in bookish,

The Sunday Philosophy Club & The Right Attitude to Rain

The Sunday Philosophy Club & The Right Attitude to Rain are from Alexander McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series of detective novels, swopping Botswana for the coffee shops and art galleries of Edinburgh and starring the Scottish/American 'detective' Isabel Dalhousie. Isabel is a thinker and a tad on the nosy/inquisitive side, and this gets her into trouble because she has a bad habit of becoming involved in other people's affairs.

I found Isabel a slightly difficult character to warm to. A single woman in her early forties, she has inherited a large amount of money from her mother, enough to allow her to hire a housekeeper (Grace) and work only part-time for a tiny amount as the editor of the philosophical Review of Applied Ethics. She spends a lot of time taking long lunches and walking about Edinburgh inbetween editing a few essays for an hour or so. When you are having to read inbetween working full time this tends to cause jealousy :) I felt jealous of her beautiful niece Cat too, who is also wealthy and has been able to afford to buy her own flat and delicatessen. Having said that, I really enjoyed reading the books and laughing at Cat's slimy boyfriends.

My favourite character was Grace the housekeeper, who is fiercely loyal to Isabel and also full of firm opinions - "Grace had gone, but had left a note on the kitchen table. Somebody phoned. He did not say who he was. I told him you were asleep. He said that he would phone again. I did not like the sound of him."

Isabel has a very active and lurid imagination, coming up with all sorts of scenarios to explain the behaviour of the people around her, such as cover-up murders, golddigging, infidelity or organised crime. Some of these turn out to be right, and others are not. The plots are often wildly unlikely, but as Isabel muses to her cousin Mimi - "'Novels have nothing to do with real life?' 'Very little,' said Mimi. 'And that's what makes them such fun.'"

Someone at a book group I went to suggested that Kate Mosse has an American character in her novel Sepulchre purely for commercial reasons, as an American audience may prefer to buy books with American characters. I don't know whether this is true or not. Could this be why McCall Smith has given Isabel Dalhousie American connections, is pressure put on authors to do so? I don't like to think of books as written like that, but realistically maybe they are.
Tags: genre: fiction, genre: mystery, xxx author last name: i-q

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