The Barnes & Noble Review
The ever-inquisitive ethicist Isabel Dalhousie is back, in Alexander McCall Smith's second installment of his wildly popular Sunday Philosophy Club saga -- this time struggling with two very different moral dilemmas of the heart.
While Isabel is managing the upscale delicatessen of her niece (who is away in Italy attending a wedding), her good friend Jamie, a handsome classical musician 15 years her junior, reveals that he is having an affair with a married woman. Isabel, the general editor of the prestigious Review of Applied Ethics, is faced with a quandary: How should she support Jamie, a beloved friend who until recently was completely enamored of Isabel's niece? While Isabel is contemplating the ethics of love and friendship, she meets a man at the deli: a clinical psychologist named Ian, who has just receieved a heart transplant. When Ian tells Isabel about strange sensations he has been having since the operation -- particularly nightmarish images of a stranger's face -- Isabel vows to figure out if the visions are in fact murderous memories somehow connected to the donor's heart. Both problems involve "echoes of ownership that persist well after we lose possession."
Set in Smith's hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, the meandering and deeply reflective plotlines of Friends, Lovers, Chocolate cover a multitude of intriguing moral issues, including the obligations of true friendship, the theoretical survival of consciousness, cultural identity, the importance (or lack thereof) of personal hygiene, the pitfalls of chocolate, and even the ethics of the buffet bar! Paul Goat Allen
As the second session of the Sunday Philosophy Club is called to order, philosopher/sleuth Isabel Dalhousie gets a new job. Her friend Cat asks Isabel to run her delicatessen while she attends a wedding in Italy. At the deli, the ever-inquisitive Isabel encounters a gentleman with a fascinating problem involving his heart, a transplant, and somebody's memories. To complicate things delightfully and to deepen the mystery, Cat returns from Italy with a most charming lothario, who not even the editor of the Journal of Applied Ethics can resist. A tasty confection from the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels.
The second installment of McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series sports a charmingly meandering plot and winningly hyperverbal characters-no surprise to fans of Isabel Dalhousie's debut, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, or any of McCall Smith's 50-plus titles. Once again, Edinburgh's Dalhousie, intrepid editor of a philosophy journal, finds herself analyzing other people's problems when asked to fill in for her niece Cat, at Cat's gourmet food shop-cum-delicatessen. At the shop, Isabel meets Ian, who is haunted by visions of a man he comes to believe must be the murdered donor of his transplanted heart. As McCall Smith lovingly takes Isabel sleuthing across Edinburgh, the donor's stepfather (a man Ian has never seen) turns out to look much like the man of Ian's nightmares. Meanwhile, Cat's romantic rejects find their way, via the shop, into Isabel's social set, including former major beau Jamie, a classical musician who, though 15 years younger, becomes Isabel's confidant. A delicious mix of the unlikely and the tried-and-true, this latest cozy from an undisputed master will make readers feel just that. 9-city author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The second entry in the "Sunday Philosophy Club" series has precociously curious Isabel Dalhousie and her no-nonsense housekeeper, Grace, in another Scottish caper. Smith lives in Scotland. 11-city author tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Isabel Dalhousie, the charming and well-intentioned editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, is back. She does not actively seek out trouble, but her inability to ignore those in need has a way of drawing her into peculiar situations. Her adventure begins when she meets Ian, who has recently had a heart transplant and is disturbed by a menacing face that keeps appearing in his memories; he and Isabel wonder whether there is any credence to the theory of cellular memory, and whether Ian could be recalling the person who was responsible for his donor's death. In much the same way that "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series opens a door to the dusty roads of Botswana, this one allows readers to experience the long, sunny days of a Scottish summer. The history and charm of Edinburgh are apparent in the detailed descriptions of the cobblestoned streets Isabel walks as she contemplates philosophical questions and attempts to make sense of Ian's issues as well as her own sudden romantic interest in a much younger friend and recent fianc of her niece. The characters and plots are thoughtful and thought-provoking, and will stay with readers well beyond the final page.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gently starchy Edinburgh ethicist Isabel Dalhousie (The Sunday Philosophy Club, 2004) slips into another sedate but vexing mystery. To accommodate her niece Cat, who's been invited to a wedding in Italy, Isabel agrees to supplement her part-time duties as general editor of the Review of Applied Ethics by working for a week in Cat's delicatessen. It's there that she meets Ian, a psychologist who's avoiding chocolate because the doctors tell him it's bad for the heart he recently received from an unknown donor. Ian soon confides that he has more serious troubles than the ban on chocolate. He's been having disturbing visions of an unfamiliar face-a face he suspects his new heart remembers. Quietly inserting herself into his nightmares, Isabel tracks down the likely donor's mother, Rose Macleod, and instantly recognizes in her partner, Graeme Forbes, the face that's been haunting Ian. Is it coincidence, cellular memory or something darker? While she's wondering what to do about her unwelcome discovery, Isabel faces a dilemma considerably closer to home: the possible loss of Cat's ex-boyfriend Jamie, a bassoonist who's become perhaps Isabel's best friend. Both problems edge toward solutions as gradually and believably as Isabel first slid into the problems. The denouement is pure magic. Beneath the slender mystery is a celebration of Isabel's fallible but resolutely ethical approach to life, charming and light but with a refreshingly unapologetic gravitas.
“A completely absorbing, profound, funny, sad, and moving book that will captivate [and] enthrall.”–Detroit Free Press“Witty, ruminative and wise.” –The Times-Picayune “Enchanting. . . . Delicious mental comfort food. . . . The ‘intimate’ city of Edinburgh is an appealing character in its own right.”–Los Angeles Times“Isabel Dalhousie . . . who made such a smart impression in . . . The Sunday Philosophy Club, returns in Friends, Lovers, Chocolate to further advance the cause of brainy, inquisitive older women who just can’t resist an intellectual puzzle.”–The New York Times Book Review