Alexander McCall Smith takes you where you want to be…whether in sunny Africa (The No.l Ladies Detective Agency) or misty Edinburgh, with the Isabel Dalhousie series, which he does with this latest book.
The Scots writer has a penetrating pen in describing these neighbourhoods, as well as a canny way of bringing his characters to life. But these people are human,recognizable and likeable – a refreshing change from many of today’s books with their dark, unresolved stories of human relationships gone wrong.
In “The Lost Art of Gratitude” the Edinburgh philosopher, Isabel Dalhousie, is still editing her review on Ethics, and probing into social problems that come her way. But these days she is happy with her fiance Jamie, and their 2-year old son, Charlie and does not get as perturbed as in earlier books. It is a pleasure walking or driving the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh and enjoying the tea and scones, or wild salmon steaks in the dining-rooms she visits.
McCall Smith shows her growing more tender in her dealings, as her own home becomes ever happier. A woman financier deals Isabel a pretty wicked doube-cross, however, which she proceeds to resolve, with Jamie’s help. You can relate to these people – which is probably McCall Smith’s greatest gift.
He himself is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh and has served on national and international bodies concernd with bioethics. It is amazing how quickly he turns out these novels. This is another one to enjoy.
Review by Anne McDougall