Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Alexander McCall Smith - "The Careful Use of Compliments"


Isabel Dalhousie is back in her fourth book, published in 2007, the latest installment of this enchanting, already beloved, best-selling series.

In addition to being the nosiest and most sypathetic philosopher you are likely to meet, Isabel is now a mother. Charlies, her newborn son, presents her with a myriad wonders of a new life, and doting father Jamie presents her with an intriguing proposal: marriage. In the midst of all this, she receives a disturbing letter announcing that she has been ousted as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics by the ambitious Professor Dove.

None of these things, however, in any way diminshes Isabel's curiosity. And when she attends an art auction, she finds an irresistable puzzle: two paintings attributed to a now-deceased artist appear on the market at the same time, and both of them exhibit some unusual characteristics. Are these paintings forgeries? This proves to be sufficient fodder for Isabel's inquisitiveness. So she begins an investigation... and soon finds herself diverging from her philosophical musings about fatherhood onto a path that leads her into the mysteries of the art world and the soul of an artist.

For some earlier Alexander McCall Smith entries see -

A couple of quotes:-

"She looked at the room around her, at her desk, at her books. None of this would belong to her for ever; it would change hands and somebody new would be here, somebody who would not even know who she had been, somebody who would look at her with astonishment if she came back, in some thought experiment, and said: That’s my desk – I want it. Our possessing of our world is a temporary matter: we stamp our ownership upon our surroundings, give familiar names to the land about us, erect statues of ourselves, but all of this is swept away, so quickly, so easily. We think the world is ours for ever, but we are little more than squatters."

"There were two horses in the soul. she thought, as Socrates had said, in the Phaedrus – the one, unruly, governed by passions, pulling in the direction of self-indulgence; the other, restrained, dutiful, governed by a sense of shame.... "

"They stood at the front door; Peter pressed the small white button in the middle of a brass fitting to the right: PLEASE PUSH was written on the porcelain; olds Edinburgh – modern buttons just said PUSH, the simple imperative, not the polite cousin."

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