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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith

It was such a relief to get to a book I could actually read the entire way through! I have read Alexander McCall Smith's #1 Ladies' Detective Agency and appreciated is slow and gentle (and clean!) style and so was ready to read this book, the 6th in his Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel is a philosopher, and owner of a philosophy review journal residing in Scotland. She has an 18 month old son and a fiance (the father of her son) with whom she lives. She tends to get herself involved in the things that really don't concern her and this book is no different. An old acquaitance but definitely not a friend cajols her into doing a very personal errand for her. Isabel finds herself being used in a way she didn't expect. There are also side stories with an old enemy who accuses her of plagiarism, a fox, and her niece who used to be the girlfriend of Isabel's fiance and still resents Isabel for being with him now.
I didn't like Isabel at first.
I thought that as a moral philosophizer she would be more romantic but she scoffed at putting Love is Eternal on a ring for her fiance because she said nothing was eternal (!). Instead she put "Isabel Dalhousie gave this ring" and thought it was just right. How's that for love? She also was all caught up in righteous indignation when her housekeeper suggested that she was living in sin with her fiance. (How dare she suggest such a thing!) Well she was!! But agreeing to do such a personal errand for someone she hardly knew and didn't like was ridiculous. Why didn't she just say no to the woman?
However, by the second half of the book she was growing on me. I liked the relationship between her and Jamie and the fact that she stood up for herself and her philosophy journal when the plagiarism charge came up. Her musing about life were interesting and thought-provoking and I think I would like to read the earlier books in the series to find out more about her.
There was very little profanity or sex and no violence. There were the situations of Isabel and her fiance and her married acquaintance having an affair that would make this a PG-13 but if you let your teen read this you may want to have a discussion about those things.
I have to say, it was soooo nice to read after that string of disgusting books!!

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