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The Lost Art of Gratitude PDF, ePub eBook ISABEL DALHOUSIE - Book 6 Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective. Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction's most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answer ISABEL DALHOUSIE - Book 6 Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective. Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction's most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answers to all of life's questions, large and small. Isabel's son, Charlie, is now of an age--eighteen months--to have a social life, and so off they go to a birthday party, where, much to Isabel's surprise, she encounters an old adversary, Minty Auchterlonie, now a high-flying financier. Minty had seemed to Isabel a woman of ruthless ambition, but the question of her integrity had never been answered. Now, when Minty takes Isabel into her confidence about a personal matter, Isabel finds herself going another round: Is Minty to be trusted? Or is she the perpetrator of an enormous financial fraud? And what should Isabel make of the rumors of shady financial transactions at Minty's investment bank? Not that this is the only dilemma facing Isabel: she also crosses swords again with her nemesis, Professor Dove, in an argument over plagiarism. Of course her niece, Cat, has a new, problematic man (a tightrope walker!) in her life. And there remains the open question of marriage to Jamie--doting father of Charlie. As always, there is no end to the delight in accompanying Isabel as she makes her way toward the heart of every problem: philosophizing, sleuthing, and downright snooping in her inimitable--and inimitably charming--fashion.

30 review for The Lost Art of Gratitude

  1. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    After all, what can one say about life that hasn't been said before? Jamie, Isabel, Grace, the aptly named Cat, and young Charlie are here presented for our quiet pleasure, going about their lives and moving through their entirely real world. The characters are deeply enmeshed in the pleasure centers of a certain type of reader, the one who smiles fondly at Ellen Glasgow or Elizabeth Goudge books when they emerge, raining the slight wisps of dust that neglect engenders, from a long shelf-slumber After all, what can one say about life that hasn't been said before? Jamie, Isabel, Grace, the aptly named Cat, and young Charlie are here presented for our quiet pleasure, going about their lives and moving through their entirely real world. The characters are deeply enmeshed in the pleasure centers of a certain type of reader, the one who smiles fondly at Ellen Glasgow or Elizabeth Goudge books when they emerge, raining the slight wisps of dust that neglect engenders, from a long shelf-slumber. McCall Smith manages to bring these characters to modern life, Trollopean in his expansion of the core characters's world but maintaining a caring and kindly focus on them. I wish more people could achieve the feat of getting novel cycles like this published. It's not that there is anything that will win a Nobel contained in these pages, but rather that every page of them affords the voyeuristic pleasures that reading always does, but without the slightly unsavory prurience that so often seems obligatory in current sex-drugs-violence potboilers. I expect, one day soon, to visit Edinburgh and see Isabel's "green Swedish car" tootle by me as I stand at a zebra crossing, Charlie in his carseat and Jamie animatedly making a point to a composedly driving Isabel, as I wait to cross the Royal Mile. I can think of no more precious compliment to give to Alexader McCall Smith than that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    3.5 stars, but 4.5 stars for the Brother Fox storyline. This series, by one of my favorite authors, is a good one for listening to when trying to fall back to sleep. It's not boring, but earthshaking events rarely, if ever happen. The main character is the editor of a philosophical journal, and there are a lot of "what if" questions, usually (but not always) of an ethical nature, that give me food for thought throughout. Davina Porter narrates the audiobooks, and her voice is perfect to get acro 3.5 stars, but 4.5 stars for the Brother Fox storyline. This series, by one of my favorite authors, is a good one for listening to when trying to fall back to sleep. It's not boring, but earthshaking events rarely, if ever happen. The main character is the editor of a philosophical journal, and there are a lot of "what if" questions, usually (but not always) of an ethical nature, that give me food for thought throughout. Davina Porter narrates the audiobooks, and her voice is perfect to get across the mood of the story and characters, not to mention the occasional Scottish brogue. 4.5 stars for the audio performance straight across the board. This is a series to read because you enjoy the characters and tone of the story. I find Alexander McCall Smith fills the bill when what I'm looking for is that settled feeling that all is right with the world. Nothing earth-shattering typically happens in any of his novels, but they'll often have you grinning or laughing, and they'll sometimes make you scratch your head and wonder a bit. He also shows quite an appreciation for the natural world (a fox is one of the minor characters in this series), and these are things that hit all of my cozy buttons, which is why he is one of my favorite authors.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I truly enjoy Isabel Dalhousie's philosophical tangents. There are those, I'm sure, for whom they are supremely annoying and all they want is for her to shut up and get back to the story at hand. But I love the weight she gives to questions of ethics and morality that so many of us skip by blithely, completely ignorant that there is even a question to be addressed. And I love that those questions distract her from the conversation or activity right in front of her. It draws such a picture of the I truly enjoy Isabel Dalhousie's philosophical tangents. There are those, I'm sure, for whom they are supremely annoying and all they want is for her to shut up and get back to the story at hand. But I love the weight she gives to questions of ethics and morality that so many of us skip by blithely, completely ignorant that there is even a question to be addressed. And I love that those questions distract her from the conversation or activity right in front of her. It draws such a picture of the character, I'm sure I'd recognize her if we met in a cafe in Edinburgh someday. Of course, a few things happen in this installment of the series, but it's not particularly plot-driven. There are some mysteries and conflicts to iron out, but they serve more to illuminate the characters than to move the story forward. A light, enjoyable read. For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Magill

    Having read the previous books in this series, I found this book to be somewhat less enjoyable than prior books in the series. I still enjoyed the visit but found the story-line with Minty and the non-resolution of ***spoiler*** lying, forgery, threats etc. to be less than satisfactory. Isabel's philosophy may allow her to feel that she has done/said the right thing, but that was essentially nothing. You know that Edmund Burke saying "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good me Having read the previous books in this series, I found this book to be somewhat less enjoyable than prior books in the series. I still enjoyed the visit but found the story-line with Minty and the non-resolution of ***spoiler*** lying, forgery, threats etc. to be less than satisfactory. Isabel's philosophy may allow her to feel that she has done/said the right thing, but that was essentially nothing. You know that Edmund Burke saying "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."? Well, that is how I feel about the resolution of the story. But I am glad Isabel and Jamie have inched into an engagement.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anne Hawn Smith

    This is my favorite book of all Alexander McCall Smith's and it is for one huge reason...the poem at the end. While the book is very entertaining and Isabel has numerous situations which cause her to work through various moral dilemmas; her insecurities about Jamie, what to do with the obnoxious Professor Dove, and especially the possibly amoral Minty Auchterlonie, the book is always more about then people than the plot. Minty approaches Isabel to help her resolve two connected issues and Isabel This is my favorite book of all Alexander McCall Smith's and it is for one huge reason...the poem at the end. While the book is very entertaining and Isabel has numerous situations which cause her to work through various moral dilemmas; her insecurities about Jamie, what to do with the obnoxious Professor Dove, and especially the possibly amoral Minty Auchterlonie, the book is always more about then people than the plot. Minty approaches Isabel to help her resolve two connected issues and Isabel reluctantly agrees to help, but finds herself being used by Minty to further her own schemes. Somehow, she manages to work good in the lives of the victims instead of the evil left from Minty. Her niece, Cat, has found a new boyfriend and this is possibly the worst of all. He is a tightrope walker and stuntman and Jamie and Isabel can only shake their heads and get ready to hold up Cat when the end comes, as they pray that it will. I am always inspired by the way Isabel finds to see beyond Cat's thorniness and love her. I can almost see Cat 20 years in the future finally realizing that it was her aunt's abiding love which remained constant through the angst of her struggle for maturity. All of this leads to the end of the book where Jamie puts to music one of the most moving poems I have read in ages. What we lose, we think we lose forever, But we are wrong about this, think of love – Love is lost, we think it gone, But it returns, often when least expected, Forgives us our lack of attention, our failure of Our cold indifference; forgives us all of this, and more; Returns and says, “I was always there.” Love, at our shoulder, whispers: Merely remember me, Don’t think I’ve gone away for ever: I am still here. With you. My power undimmed. See. I am here.” I was listening to the audio book and I could just hear God at my shoulder saying those words and I found myself playing them over and over. I read that the handwritten poem was sold at a charity auction and felt that if I had a lot of money, I surely would have bid on it, even to the point of sacrifice.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bee

    There is a comfortable familiarity in the Isabel Dalhousie series, which always reminds me of Seinfeld and its 'show about nothing'. Because really, these books are NOT plot-heavy and sort of gently ramble their way through a series of not very exciting events and end in a mild, sputtering anti-climax. Don't get me wrong -- I love Isabel, Jamie, Charlie, Grace, Cat (sort of...), Eddie, etc., but these tend to be the books about nothing. I don't know if I'm getting mildly bored or if this one wasn There is a comfortable familiarity in the Isabel Dalhousie series, which always reminds me of Seinfeld and its 'show about nothing'. Because really, these books are NOT plot-heavy and sort of gently ramble their way through a series of not very exciting events and end in a mild, sputtering anti-climax. Don't get me wrong -- I love Isabel, Jamie, Charlie, Grace, Cat (sort of...), Eddie, etc., but these tend to be the books about nothing. I don't know if I'm getting mildly bored or if this one wasn't up to the same calibre as the others, but I wasn't charmed. Isabel, instead of being endearing, annoyed me quite often. We all know she can't help but get involved in these situations that inevitably crop up, but this time (around page 125 if I recall) I wanted to scream at her. She really butted in where it was clearly none of her business and kept blathering on about how she had a moral obligation to do so. Perhaps it's just because I disagree, but this really got on my nerves. She also seemed preachier than usual, and irritatingly passive and controlled to the point of being inhuman. I will keep reading, though. For all that, there is something quietly enjoyable about this entire series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    I've had Alexander McCall Smith on my list of authors to read for a long time. He is quite good. I jumped in with the sixth book in a series on a female philosopher in Edinburgh (home of Smith). Isobel is a thoughtful, kind woman and mother of an 18-month-old son. It was as much philosophizing as story, but the story itself was realistic and interesting. I'll certainly be ready to read more -- from the beginning. Quotes (as always): Oscar Wilde gazing in dismay at the decorations surrounding his deathb I've had Alexander McCall Smith on my list of authors to read for a long time. He is quite good. I jumped in with the sixth book in a series on a female philosopher in Edinburgh (home of Smith). Isobel is a thoughtful, kind woman and mother of an 18-month-old son. It was as much philosophizing as story, but the story itself was realistic and interesting. I'll certainly be ready to read more -- from the beginning. Quotes (as always): Oscar Wilde gazing in dismay at the decorations surrounding his deathbed and saying, by way of farewell, "Either that wallpaper goes or I do." More: "Treat everyone you meet as if it's their last day." "An unpredictable person could not be predicted to be unpredictable." "The best sort of relationship, she thought, was where each person had a private area, a place of mental retreat." Last: "People who looked after animals were by and large kind people; they simply practised kindness, unlike those who made much of it. Thus, thought Isabel, are virtues best cultivated--in discretion and silence, away from the gaze of others, known only to those who act virtuously and to those who benefit from what is done."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chazzle

    I really like this series. And it's nice to have a series that "just works", like a doughnut stick and milk; or a hot fudge sundae. Comfort food, comfort reading. But this installment in the series is shortchanged by being termed merely "comfort reading". Yes, the flow of the writing style is very pleasant, but it's more than that. Isabel Dalhousie's musings on ethics, with her education as a doctorate in philosophy, lulls the reader, perhaps intentionally, into a sense that she's just being "aca I really like this series. And it's nice to have a series that "just works", like a doughnut stick and milk; or a hot fudge sundae. Comfort food, comfort reading. But this installment in the series is shortchanged by being termed merely "comfort reading". Yes, the flow of the writing style is very pleasant, but it's more than that. Isabel Dalhousie's musings on ethics, with her education as a doctorate in philosophy, lulls the reader, perhaps intentionally, into a sense that she's just being "academic". Yes, her musings arise from the immediate objects of her attention, and many of these issues are fairly trivial. The centerpiece of her considerations, the main issue of the book, though, is a direct confrontation of evil itself. It very much reminded me of the moral goosebumps I experienced watching a movie called The Emperor's Club, starring Kevin Kline. I'm trying to convey that the experience of reading this book can be felt very much. It's not just an academic exercise or another cosy mystery by any means. At least to me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Patterson

    Reading about Isabel Dalhousie and her family is a bit like dropping in on old friends to catch up on the latest news. Charlie, Isabel and Jamie’s son, is eighteen months old. When he is invited to a birthday party, Isabel meets Minty Auchterlonie, a financier she encountered as the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. Minty confesses that she is troubled at work. Isabel never found Minty agreeable. However, Isabel, true to form, finds that she can’t help becoming involved. Isabel is as charm Reading about Isabel Dalhousie and her family is a bit like dropping in on old friends to catch up on the latest news. Charlie, Isabel and Jamie’s son, is eighteen months old. When he is invited to a birthday party, Isabel meets Minty Auchterlonie, a financier she encountered as the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. Minty confesses that she is troubled at work. Isabel never found Minty agreeable. However, Isabel, true to form, finds that she can’t help becoming involved. Isabel is as charming as ever. She never shies away from her problems. She cajoles, questions, philosophises and investigates her way through this 6th offering from her creator. Isabel also has to deal with Professor Dove, who tried to oust her as editor of The Review in a previous novel. They argue over one of a writer’s greatest fears - plagiarism. Cat, her niece, and Jamie’s former lover, is involved with a stunt man. Jamie adds to her lot by pressing her to marry him. I have loved this series for the sheer elegance of McCall Smith’s writing, the kindness of his heroine and the absence of sensationalism. However, as Jamie grows, I find that she is one of the most annoying mothers that I have come across in a book. The idyllic state of motherhood is wearing thin. There is also the sense that nothing ever happens, and this can be a little tiresome. I wish that Isabel would get really mad sometimes and do something crazy. Other than that, the book is a comfortable, predictable read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan in Perthshire

    Okay, I have now officially given up on Isabel Dalhousie! Life is too short. I enjoyed the first 3 books but since then, I have become more and more bored - and ultimately annoyed at the lack of character development. I initially liked the fact that Isabel was an older, rich, independent, intelligent woman who along with her cast of characters would develop in time. Cat, Grace, Jamie, Eddie all had real potential. There is little mystery in these novels and less and less of the Scottish dimensio Okay, I have now officially given up on Isabel Dalhousie! Life is too short. I enjoyed the first 3 books but since then, I have become more and more bored - and ultimately annoyed at the lack of character development. I initially liked the fact that Isabel was an older, rich, independent, intelligent woman who along with her cast of characters would develop in time. Cat, Grace, Jamie, Eddie all had real potential. There is little mystery in these novels and less and less of the Scottish dimension. Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh is a living, breathing construct which adds real depth to Rebus’ stories. This Edinburgh is a pale reflection of what is such an exciting, cosmopolitan city. Isabel’s philosophy leaves a lot to be desired and her inner angst is just now so over the top and unbelievable that I cannot be bothered any more. Trite stories which meander aimlessly do not appeal to me. The Isabel Dalhousie books are not anywhere near as good as the Number 1 detective agency or Scotland Street. Disappointed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    The Isabel Dalhousie books adhere to a pretty tight formula, and after reading six of them in quick succession that is all too obvious. There is the slow unfolding of Isabel's personal life: comprised of Jamie (a musician 14 years her junior, also her partner and the father of her child), Charlie (her 18 month old son), Grace (her implacable housekeeper) and Cat (her difficult niece, who has a different boyfriend in every book). There is the business of philosophy, not only as it relates to Isab The Isabel Dalhousie books adhere to a pretty tight formula, and after reading six of them in quick succession that is all too obvious. There is the slow unfolding of Isabel's personal life: comprised of Jamie (a musician 14 years her junior, also her partner and the father of her child), Charlie (her 18 month old son), Grace (her implacable housekeeper) and Cat (her difficult niece, who has a different boyfriend in every book). There is the business of philosophy, not only as it relates to Isabel's job as editor of The Review of Applied Ethics, but also as it informs her thinking and decisions. And then there is the "mystery" which Isabel is drawn into in each novel. Some of the mysteries have satisfying resolutions, which Isabel can take some satisfaction in, while others remain unresolved. In one of the novels, perhaps it was this one, Jamie is composing a piece of music but can't find the right resolution for it. Music is a constant theme in the novels, not just because Jamie and Isabel are both passionate about it, although there is that; but also because, like a piece of music, there are certain motifs and lines which are repeated over and over. The mystery in this novel involved one Minty Auchterlonie, an investment banker who "sails too close to the wind". Minty has gotten herself into trouble, both in her personal and business life, by taking too many risks and behaving in a self-interested way which ignores the needs and claims of others. She draws Isabel into her problems, and Isabel discovers that Minty is far from innocent in her own troubles -- but is she actually "wicked", as one character describes her? This novel had a personal significance for me as my husband has recently been taken advantage of in business by someone he had trusted and thought of a close friend. Over the course of the last year, we have often discussed the idea of "revenge" -- and how it then taints the injured party. There is a clear-cut example of that in this novel. But then there is the problem, difficult for most humans: Should someone who has behaved badly, unethically, be allowed to benefit from their behaviour -- and, well, get off scot-free? Do bad deeds, or indeed a bad character, always reap their own just rewards? Some people call it "karma". It's an interesting, and entirely realistic, dilemma -- and although lack of resolution may be frustrating in a novel, I believe that it is appropriate to this particular philosophical problem. At one point, near the end of the novel, Isabel decides that it is better to be naive than cynical -- even if you are sometimes taken advantage of. Throughout the novels, Isabel insists on treating people with kindness -- and also, importantly, trusting them. I tend to agree with this line of thinking . . . perhaps this is why these novels have meant to so much to me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Borrowed this review from "Mary" because it says everything I've been thinking about this series: This series is starting to grow on me. I've been confused because, although they're catalogued as mysteries, they're very gentle mysteries, having more to do with the eternal puzzle of why humans (Scottish ones, mostly) behave as they do. Isabel Dalhousie can't restrain herself from getting to the bottom of philosophical conundrums. In this particular episode, trouble in the form of a previous Nemesi Borrowed this review from "Mary" because it says everything I've been thinking about this series: This series is starting to grow on me. I've been confused because, although they're catalogued as mysteries, they're very gentle mysteries, having more to do with the eternal puzzle of why humans (Scottish ones, mostly) behave as they do. Isabel Dalhousie can't restrain herself from getting to the bottom of philosophical conundrums. In this particular episode, trouble in the form of a previous Nemesis (the wonderfully named Minty Auchterlonie) comes looking for her. As always, the "mystery" part of the story is a subplot to the real ongoing plot involving Isabel, her gorgeous young bassoonist lover Jamie, their precocious toddler Charlie, her opinionated, Spiritualist housekeeper Grace, and her niece, Cat, who in my opinion would greatly benefit from psychotherapy and medication. Alexander McCall Smith mostly does an excellent job writing from a female point of view. Really the only nit I have to pick is that Isabel's cultural and technological conservatism do not ring true in a character who is supposed to be in her early to mid-40's. To be fair, Jamie, 10 or so years her junior, is the same, so at least they're well matched. Isabel, who is independently wealthy, edits a philosophical journal from home. She insists her contributors submit their articles to her in hard copy; she does not, apparently, utilize voice mail or a cell phone. Music is a large part of her life, but it's not clear how it's played in her home. I think one of the earlier books referred to a turntable. I'd like the author, who himself is 65, to enlist a female consultant in Isabel's age range to lend a bit more credibility to her character.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mommalibrarian

    This book was shelved with the mysteries but it is not a mystery. Nothing happens. There is no plot, no character development, in that the characters as presented in the first chapter are completely unchanged throughout the book. There is no action or adventure. The vocabulary is not outstanding; the authors thoughts are not thought-provoking; the style is mundane. There is some weak humor as when the lead character "imagined herself in the street, dabbing disinfectant on passers-by, as a religi This book was shelved with the mysteries but it is not a mystery. Nothing happens. There is no plot, no character development, in that the characters as presented in the first chapter are completely unchanged throughout the book. There is no action or adventure. The vocabulary is not outstanding; the authors thoughts are not thought-provoking; the style is mundane. There is some weak humor as when the lead character "imagined herself in the street, dabbing disinfectant on passers-by, as a religious proselyte might thrust a tract into a stranger's hand; absurd thought. But surely it was just as intrusive for people to buttonhole others with a view to converting them to a religion. She had thought of the massive presumption of such earnest missionaries, that they should imagine that a few words from them should be able to overturn another's whole theology or philosophy of life. Did they really expect that one would say, 'My goodness, so I've got it wrong all my life.'" This is the best humor in the entire books so now you will not have to read it. The main character is a 'professional philosopher'; an independently wealthy middle-aged lady who edits a journal because she bought it. Every thought that passes through her mind is presented and analyzed in her head. The author unwittingly admits as much on p.252 when he has the character say, "Please pay no attention to what I say. I'm a professional philosopher, you see, and we go on about things rather a lot."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Camelia Rose

    What a refreshing update from Alexander McCall Smith! In The Lost Art of Gratitude, we welcome back the manipulative Minty Auchterlonie from the first instalment. Because of Minty, there are more mystery and twists in this book. Is she a sociopath or has she got multiple personality disorder? I enjoy reading our part-time amateur sleuth's inner moral, philosophical musing, though sometimes I wish she is judgemental and more forceful, but then she wouldn't be our moral philosopher. There are disc What a refreshing update from Alexander McCall Smith! In The Lost Art of Gratitude, we welcome back the manipulative Minty Auchterlonie from the first instalment. Because of Minty, there are more mystery and twists in this book. Is she a sociopath or has she got multiple personality disorder? I enjoy reading our part-time amateur sleuth's inner moral, philosophical musing, though sometimes I wish she is judgemental and more forceful, but then she wouldn't be our moral philosopher. There are discussions on sexism and the so-called modern nanny state. I wonder if Isabel Dalhousie is imaged from the writer himself? "To talk about sex was nothing to talking about about God; the body stripped bare was never as bare as the soul so stripped."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Addy

    The title says it all. Read and look into yourself.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Continuing on with a favorite audiobook series. These are not exciting books but characters, musings on "ethical philosophy" questions by Isabel, and the Edinburgh setting make this such a pleasure.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christe

    I saw a reader's review that said these books are the equivalent of herbal tea and a cozy fire -- Right! Pleasant, at times, quite humorous ruminations by Isabel who lives a charmed and pleasant life in which nothing truly bad is ever going to happen, and in fact nothing much at all happens!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This series is starting to grow on me. I've been confused because, although they're catalogued as mysteries, they're very gentle mysteries, having more to do with the eternal puzzle of why humans (Scottish ones, mostly) behave as they do. Isabel Dalhousie can't restrain herself from getting to the bottom of philosophical conundrums. In this particular episode, trouble in the form of a previous Nemesis (the wonderfully named Minty Auchterlonie) comes looking for her. As always, the "mystery" part This series is starting to grow on me. I've been confused because, although they're catalogued as mysteries, they're very gentle mysteries, having more to do with the eternal puzzle of why humans (Scottish ones, mostly) behave as they do. Isabel Dalhousie can't restrain herself from getting to the bottom of philosophical conundrums. In this particular episode, trouble in the form of a previous Nemesis (the wonderfully named Minty Auchterlonie) comes looking for her. As always, the "mystery" part of the story is a subplot to the real ongoing plot involving Isabel, her gorgeous young bassoonist lover Jamie, their precocious toddler Charlie, her opinionated, Spiritualist housekeeper Grace, and her niece, Cat, who in my opinion would greatly benefit from psychotherapy and medication. Alexander McCall Smith mostly does an excellent job writing from a female point of view. Really the only nit I have to pick is that Isabel's cultural and technological conservatism do not ring true in a character who is supposed to be in her early to mid-40's. To be fair, Jamie, 10 or so years her junior, is the same, so at least they're well matched. Isabel, who is independently wealthy, edits a philosophical journal from home. She insists her contributors submit their articles to her in hard copy; she does not, apparently, utilize voice mail or a cell phone. Music is a large part of her life, but it's not clear how it's played in her home. I think one of the earlier books referred to a turntable. I'd like the author, who himself is 65, to enlist a female consultant in Isabel's age range to lend a bit more credibility to her character.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marlyn

    I love the Isabel Dalhousie books! For those who are not familiar with her, Isabel is an Edinburgh-based philosopher (editor of The Review of Applied Ethics) with a toddler named Charlie, whose father is her much-younger paramour Jamie. Isabel also has a reputation for sleuthing, though there are those who call it interfering. Early in this narrative, she runs into an old acquaintance, Minty Auchterlonie, who has a son about the same age as Charlie. Though Isabel has never thought of Minty as a f I love the Isabel Dalhousie books! For those who are not familiar with her, Isabel is an Edinburgh-based philosopher (editor of The Review of Applied Ethics) with a toddler named Charlie, whose father is her much-younger paramour Jamie. Isabel also has a reputation for sleuthing, though there are those who call it interfering. Early in this narrative, she runs into an old acquaintance, Minty Auchterlonie, who has a son about the same age as Charlie. Though Isabel has never thought of Minty as a friend, Charlie is invited to Minty's son's birthday party. Feeling that Charlie needs to be exposed to his peers, she accepts, only to find that Minty has an ulterior motive. Minty thinks that her son's father is trying to take him away from her, and asks Isabel to speak with him. Reluctanly, Isabel agrees, only to find that Minty hasn't told her the whole story. Of course there are other plotlines in the book; her nemesis Professor Dove makes another attempt to oust her from the editorship of the Review, her niece Cat becomes engaged to a funambulist, and the fox who lives in her back garden is injured. Although these books are definitely mysteries, they don't always include murders, which kind of refreshing. There is something gentle and charming about Isabel and her life, and it's a joy to read about.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alarie

    This is my second reading from the Dalhousie series. I think I’m safe to say that each book is charming on its own, yet I’ll likely not read too many of them. I tire of the repetitious backtracking to remind me who characters are once I know them. (Also why I only read about three of the author’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books.) For now, this is light holiday reading in lieu of B or C list holiday movies. I do love Isabel Dalhousie. I also love that McCall Smith creates strong, female prot This is my second reading from the Dalhousie series. I think I’m safe to say that each book is charming on its own, yet I’ll likely not read too many of them. I tire of the repetitious backtracking to remind me who characters are once I know them. (Also why I only read about three of the author’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books.) For now, this is light holiday reading in lieu of B or C list holiday movies. I do love Isabel Dalhousie. I also love that McCall Smith creates strong, female protagonists and writes convincing dialogue and behavior for them. Isabel is a moral philosopher and a control freak, which are both helpful traits for telling a story and helping it unfold. Life in Scotland, music, art, literature, and food provide plenty of entertainment for artsy readers independent of the mysteries. I regard these books as novels. Thus far, the mysteries are more the stuff of everyday life and don’t require the police. I’d be happy to invite Ms. Dalhousie to dinner without fear that one of my guests won’t live out the night. (You might wonder how she finds time to edit her journal, but McCall gives her about a year to buckle down before bringing us back to her door.) The fox in her back yard had a bigger part in this episode. I liked that.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Camilla Tilly

    I loved the book. Nothing really major happens but it's through and through cozy. Once again, Isabel Dalhousie gets problems with two schemers from the past that once tried to get her fired from being an editor of the philosophy magazine she so much loves. That time she bought the magazine and fired the two instead. This time she has to be really sly and fight them with the same weapons they try to use against her and/or by using their weaknesses. Everything always sorts itself out in these book I loved the book. Nothing really major happens but it's through and through cozy. Once again, Isabel Dalhousie gets problems with two schemers from the past that once tried to get her fired from being an editor of the philosophy magazine she so much loves. That time she bought the magazine and fired the two instead. This time she has to be really sly and fight them with the same weapons they try to use against her and/or by using their weaknesses. Everything always sorts itself out in these books. Isabel's tiresome niece once again chooses an impossible man that she actually gets engaged to at the same time as Isabel finally gets engaged to her Jamie. But Cat's relationship doesn't last and thank heavens, there are no accusations in this book about Isabel having stolen Cat's discarded boyfriend nor about the age difference between Jamie and Isabel. The author has finally left that behind. The "mystery" of this novel became a sideline thing. Isabel is asked to help an unpleasant woman that has been threatened in all sorts of manners. But there really is no threat and Isabel doesn't really have to do anything. So, not an exciting book but a really cozy read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I loved this book. It's all in the style of the writing and the characterization. The plot is rambling and nothing much seems to happen. But it's just a completely enjoyable book. i want the rest of them! From Publisher's Weekly: Smith's quietly triumphant sixth novel to feature Scottish philosopher Isabel Dalhousie (after 2008's The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday) shows that Isabel and the author's other, better-known female sleuth—Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series—a I loved this book. It's all in the style of the writing and the characterization. The plot is rambling and nothing much seems to happen. But it's just a completely enjoyable book. i want the rest of them! From Publisher's Weekly: Smith's quietly triumphant sixth novel to feature Scottish philosopher Isabel Dalhousie (after 2008's The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday) shows that Isabel and the author's other, better-known female sleuth—Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series—are sisters under the skin, despite obvious differences. Minty Auchterlonie, who once alerted Isabel to some insider trading, fears someone is out to get her. The tax authorities have suddenly investigated Minty, and an unknown party has sent her a funeral wreath. When Isabel looks into these provocative acts, she draws on lessons learned from the journal she edits, the Review of Applied Ethics, to arrive at the complex truth behind them. Meanwhile, the father of Isabel's young son proposes marriage, and a defeated academic rival accuses her of knowingly publishing plagiarism. Smith's trademark humor and telling observations about people heighten the appeal.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    It's been a while since I read a McCall Smith novel. It was a nice change of pace, what I call a "rambling mystery." Smith takes his time, accounting for mundane, daily tasks, small details, like cooking dinner or the view from a restaurant window. This volume of the Isabel Dalhousie Novels begins with an accusation from Professor Dove, that pompous, self-important thorn in Isabel's side. Soon after, we are reacquainted with Minty Act... I can never spell her name. The gal from the first book of It's been a while since I read a McCall Smith novel. It was a nice change of pace, what I call a "rambling mystery." Smith takes his time, accounting for mundane, daily tasks, small details, like cooking dinner or the view from a restaurant window. This volume of the Isabel Dalhousie Novels begins with an accusation from Professor Dove, that pompous, self-important thorn in Isabel's side. Soon after, we are reacquainted with Minty Act... I can never spell her name. The gal from the first book of the series. She asks for Isabel's help in confronting a man responsible for starting a fire on her property, a man she says has claim to her son. While sorting through both these issues, Isabel reflects on moral responsibility, art, and love, enjoying the time she has with lover Jamie and son Charlie. Brother Fox also makes an appearance, and we see Isabel's compulsion to interfere, or instinct to aid, whichever you feel is more accurate, is not limited to human beings. "The Lost Art of Gratitude" is a very nice addition to the series, and I look forward to borrowing the next book from my local library.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    The Lost Art of Gratitude is the 6th novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. In this instalment, Isabel has to deal with an accusation by Christopher Dove of plagiarism in the Review of Applied Ethics, has to break the news of her engagement to Jamie to her prickly niece, Cat, is coerced into mediating with the father of Minty Auchterlonie’s baby, meets Cat’s new boyfriend (a tightrope walker), engages a professional to capture Brother Fox and has lunch (a salad) with Pro The Lost Art of Gratitude is the 6th novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. In this instalment, Isabel has to deal with an accusation by Christopher Dove of plagiarism in the Review of Applied Ethics, has to break the news of her engagement to Jamie to her prickly niece, Cat, is coerced into mediating with the father of Minty Auchterlonie’s baby, meets Cat’s new boyfriend (a tightrope walker), engages a professional to capture Brother Fox and has lunch (a salad) with Professor Lettuce. As usual, Jamie is the voice of reason when Isabel feels action is needed, and Isabel’s musings on many and varied subjects are a continual source of humour. And despite everything sent to try her, Isabel finds she has much to be grateful for. Alexander McCall Smith’s novels are filled with gentle philosophy, charming characters and laugh-out-loud humour. This audiobook, skilfully abridged by Katy Nichol so that no relevant parts are omitted, is beautifully narrated by Hilary Neville. Delightful!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Callahan

    I'm in the midst of reading the whole Isabel Dalhousie series and they are all really wonderful little cozy books. I tend to read 2 books at once. One will be a more serious book or a classic and the second will be a lighter book or a beach read. Alexander McCall Smith has never failed me. I started with his "First Ladies Detective Agency" and have been hooked every since. The "Isabel Dalhousie" series of books are just simply sweet detective stories with great little details of life in Edinburg I'm in the midst of reading the whole Isabel Dalhousie series and they are all really wonderful little cozy books. I tend to read 2 books at once. One will be a more serious book or a classic and the second will be a lighter book or a beach read. Alexander McCall Smith has never failed me. I started with his "First Ladies Detective Agency" and have been hooked every since. The "Isabel Dalhousie" series of books are just simply sweet detective stories with great little details of life in Edinburgh. Isabel is a philospher by trade but when asked for her help she philosphizes (not a word, I know) her way to an answer while enjoying the simple gifts of life such as brother fox who lives in her garden. No CSI style violence here. Just something relaxing to read before going to sleep. However, Smith indeed has caused me to keep my IPad near so I can look up things about Edinburgh or Scotland as I read. Thank you again Alexander McCall Smith! As long as you keep writing, I'll keep reading!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenine

    The fox episode put this one over to 4 stars for me. Each Isabel D book I have read has had some passage wherein she imagines what she would do if she were a fictional character and then re-asserts that no, she is real and not fictional. I haven't liked these passages because they draw attention to my act of reading the thoughts of fictional characters. They make explicit what I am happy to leave hidden behind the scrim of my suspension of disbelief. But this book did not contain that sort of pa The fox episode put this one over to 4 stars for me. Each Isabel D book I have read has had some passage wherein she imagines what she would do if she were a fictional character and then re-asserts that no, she is real and not fictional. I haven't liked these passages because they draw attention to my act of reading the thoughts of fictional characters. They make explicit what I am happy to leave hidden behind the scrim of my suspension of disbelief. But this book did not contain that sort of passage (unless I missed it). Instead it contains a statement which describes the hook and the brilliance of this writer's novels: [Perhaps that was what adults really wanted, searched for and rarely found: a simple story in which good triumphs against cynicism and despair. ...one did not publicise the fact too widely, certainly not in sophisticated circles. Such circles wanted complexity, dysfunction and irony: there was no room for joy, celebration or pathos. But where was the *fun* in that?] Joy, celebration and pathos in the small moments of ordinary lives. Bless.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ken Vaughan

    This is the 7th in McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel, Jamie and their son Charlie have settled into a comfortable domestic routine. They reluctantly accept an invitation from an acquaintance, Minty Auchterlonie, to attend her son’s birthday party. Isabel is drawn into Minty’s secretive dealings with a young man with whom she had an affair, and who is the father of her son. Meanwhile, Isabel is embroiled in a controversy over plagiarism in the journal she edits, the Review of Applied This is the 7th in McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel, Jamie and their son Charlie have settled into a comfortable domestic routine. They reluctantly accept an invitation from an acquaintance, Minty Auchterlonie, to attend her son’s birthday party. Isabel is drawn into Minty’s secretive dealings with a young man with whom she had an affair, and who is the father of her son. Meanwhile, Isabel is embroiled in a controversy over plagiarism in the journal she edits, the Review of Applied Ethics, and is shocked to discover that her regular backyard visitor, Brother Fox, has sustained an injury. And of course there’s her niece Cat, who has acquired a new boyfriend with an unusual occupation. As always, McCall Smith sees to the root of his characters’ motivations and misdemeanors, yet treats them with the utmost fairness, finding wisdom in the small gestures that make up our daily lives.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Roya

    I keep returning to this series because it is like visiting with an old, comfortable friend who I like in spite of her quirks. None of the books have much of a plot and I was about 25% into this one before a plot started to emerge. I can't help comparing Isabel Dalhousie with Mma Ramotswe and wonder how Mma Ramotswe would handle the situations Isabel finds herself in. I would love for them to meet each other. It finally dawned on me that I need to stop thinking of this series as light mysteries I keep returning to this series because it is like visiting with an old, comfortable friend who I like in spite of her quirks. None of the books have much of a plot and I was about 25% into this one before a plot started to emerge. I can't help comparing Isabel Dalhousie with Mma Ramotswe and wonder how Mma Ramotswe would handle the situations Isabel finds herself in. I would love for them to meet each other. It finally dawned on me that I need to stop thinking of this series as light mysteries and read them from the point of view of a morality tale. Isabel often annoys me because she is such a busybody and I do not always agree with her actions or conclusions. Additionally, although she is around 40 years old, I cannot help but picture a much older woman. I think she finally uses e-mail in this book and agrees (grudgingly) to accept an electronic copy of a potential article for her Review. But I keep going back to read more….

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Alexander McCall Smith creates these wonderful characters, that essentially have rather agreeable lives. I think of all his characters, Isabelle leads the most charmed life. She is intelligent, well-educated, and well-to-do. She has a handsome, sensitive and younger fiance, who has fathered her beautiful and well-behaved son. And she enjoys her job. All in all there is simply no angst, nor traumas and nary a crisis on the horizon. But despite the lacks these things, Alexander crafts a beautiful s Alexander McCall Smith creates these wonderful characters, that essentially have rather agreeable lives. I think of all his characters, Isabelle leads the most charmed life. She is intelligent, well-educated, and well-to-do. She has a handsome, sensitive and younger fiance, who has fathered her beautiful and well-behaved son. And she enjoys her job. All in all there is simply no angst, nor traumas and nary a crisis on the horizon. But despite the lacks these things, Alexander crafts a beautiful story... one that envelopes you in a cocoon of security. I enjoy Isabelle's stress-less living. Alexander's promise of these kind of worlds, is one makes me return ever so faithfully to his books. I love a story every once in a while where nothing terrible happens. As a mom, I can really appreciate Alexander's worlds... always as smooth as silk... a fabulous suspension of reality.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Not a "murder" mystery, but there are certainly mysteries to be solved an Isabel can't help getting involved. Meeting up with Minty Auchterlonie again, after a few years, leads Isabel on a twisted journey. Isabel is moral philosopher and Minty gives her plenty of moral dilemma's to ponder. In the end, while Isabel feels she has handled Minty well, I found the resolution a bit less satisfying. While Minty is called on her misdeeds, she really doesn't pay for them. It was enjoyable, though to catc Not a "murder" mystery, but there are certainly mysteries to be solved an Isabel can't help getting involved. Meeting up with Minty Auchterlonie again, after a few years, leads Isabel on a twisted journey. Isabel is moral philosopher and Minty gives her plenty of moral dilemma's to ponder. In the end, while Isabel feels she has handled Minty well, I found the resolution a bit less satisfying. While Minty is called on her misdeeds, she really doesn't pay for them. It was enjoyable, though to catch up and learn how Isabel and her family is growing. I'm not trying to be cute here. Isabel's son is obviously growing, but Isabel's relationship with her younger lover and significant other is growing, as well. Finally, its nice to have Brother Fox have a bigger role in this book rather than his normal passing through, enjoy able as those brief glimpses are.

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