Customer Reviews for

The Charming Quirks of Others (Isabel Dalhousie Series #7)

Average Rating 3.5
( 34 )
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(11)

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  • Posted July 12, 2011

    Smith doesn't disappoint, yet again!

    I was originally turned on to the Isabel Dalhousie series after falling in love with Precious Ramotswe. To my delight, I found Isabel to be just as loveable and meaningful a character to me as Precious. I have eagerly awaited eery book out in the series and this was no exception.

    Smith comes through again in installment #7 with his instantly recognizeable prose. Many of the conflicts in this novel are the same ones faced over and over by Isabel and friends before: Isabel finds herself drawn into helping people in the community solve problems by doing a little detective work, almost against her better judgement. Isabel struggles with her own insecurties about her relationship with Jamie, despite his obvious affection for her and Charlie. Cat struggles to find a semi-respectable, stable boyfriend. Jamie struggles to do the right thing as always. Isabel comes up, again, against Lettuce and Dove and has to decide the morally correct way to handle herself with them. So the themes are quite familiar in this work, even if the problems themselves have new details. As is often the case for me with Smith's mysteries, I was taken completely by surprise by the solution to the problem Isabel is working on, which leaves one with a pleasant feeling of completion at the end. Essentially this novel will be no surprise to readers of the other 6 issues in the series. However, that doesn't in any way make it disposable; it is quite a good read and spending a day immersed in it is delightful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    Good read

    I love this series because the books are fun and well-written. Very interesting to read a series that takes place in Scottland (or Bostwana!) I enjoy reading about Isabel's moral dilemnas as well as her forays into detection among her friends and neighbors. At times sad and at others quite amusing, this series of books is always highly entertaining!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2012


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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    Highly recommend- quiet, yet powerful.

    Under the guise of "charm", Alexander McCall Smith once again teaches us a profound lesson on the nature of love and the human condition.

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  • Posted November 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Abbotsford: "the greatest literary shrine in Scotland - Sir Walter Scott's house."

    Alexander McCall Smith's newest Isabel Dalhousie novel is called THE CHARMING QUIRKS OF OTHERS. Smith writes much either dully or preciously, or both. Striking is his inability to paint memorable word pictures of streets, buildings and backdrops of Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland. The novel is full, by contrast, of allusions to writers, Bert Brecht, James Hogg and others. But where is the dirt and bustle of "auld reekie," the flesh and blood Edinburgh of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson? Don't just allude to them, Smith! Write like them! *** Isabel Dalhousie is a middle-aged mother of a nearly two-year old illegitimate son named Charlie. Charlie's father is Isabel's live-in fiance, Jamie. Father-son names evoke Stuart monarchs of old. Evocation or writers and association of ideas propel every conversation that professional moral philosopher Dalhousie has. For a philosopher, Isabel is remarkably unsure of her ethical principles, but by novel's end, is willing to overlook or minimize every moral failing of the dozen or two characters she interacts with. *** What interaction? The plot, such as it is, has Isabel saying yes (as she always does) to a request for help. It comes from Jillian Mackinlay a virtual stranger. She asks Isabel to investigate the backgrounds of three men on a short-list (Broad Scots "short-leet") to be named headmaster of nearby Bishop Forbes School, for boys 8 - 18. Isabel is to report her findings and recommendations to Alex Mackinlay, Jillian's powerful husband, who sits on many boards. *** The research takes little of Dalhousie's time, as coincidence after coincidence dumps facts in her lap to flesh out dossiers given her by Jillian. But all is not plot. Fans of Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) may turn eagerly to Chapter 11, "A Writer's House" anticipating a lovingly detailed tour of Abbotsford, his architecturally world-famous "Conundrum Castle" on the river Tweed. Novel's heroine Dalhousie has driven there an hour southeast of Edinburgh for a fund raiser organized by Alex Mackinlay and to discuss her short-list research with Jilian Mackinlay. Every reference, however, to Abbotsford is via literary allusions which knowing readers are assumed to tweak to: examples: -- When a waiter says that he does not work for the estate but is a shepherd, Isabel muttes "An Ettrick Shepherd." To a puzzled Jillian, Isabel simply says "James Hogg ... The Ettrick Shepherd. The essayist." -- Jillian says that Abbotsford is wonderful, "the greatest literary shrine in Scotland." Isabel loves Scott but doubts that people make time anymore to read his great historical novels. -- Jillian: yet just think, this house is where Scott actually wrote. "We can take a look at his writing room ... . His desk is still there." -- At dinner Isabel wonders if a fast-paced electronic generation will revive Walter Scott, "whose stories could be weighed in pounds." -- Later, driving back through "Scott country" to Edinburgh, Isabel barely notices the moonlit scenery. But "she imagined him at Abbotsford looking out of his library window, at the world he peopled with his characters, a world of desperate doings and heroic quests." *** If you want Edinburgh and Scotland to come alive, read Scott! Smith does the impossible: he makes both mere flat and boring backdrops to a play full of conditioned-reflex humans. -OOO-

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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