I have read and reread all of Alexander McCall Smith's books about Botswana and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I absolutely adored the series.
So when his new book came out about Scotland, I thought it would be the same caliber. I bought the book and immediately downloaded it for listening. Tonight I finished the book and I want to warn other fans to avoid this book at all costs.
First of all, the "Sunday Philosophy Club" is mentioned only briefly in the book and never meets. What is the point in the title???
Secondly, since Isobel, the heroine, is a philosopher, over half of the book is about her philosophical musings about ethics. This book has no real plot or action.
Finally, the murder, about which the entire book is based, is not a murder at all. Just an unfortunate accident. If I am giving away the plot, believe me, you haven't lost much.
This is a very slow, thin book with little character development and less plot. The amusement in it is the extraction of major philosophical and moral debates from very minor daily life. It's calm, not unpleasant, but not much more.
Book just meanders all over the place a bit too much for my taste. Think it's the author's style - remember feeling when reading the Ladies Detective Agency that the pace was very very slooooow
Would never ask an author to change their style!
Love Davina Porter always. She's a pro.
I'm currently listening to book 5 in this series. I have loved them all and will be listening to the rest of them, as well. I originally thought they would be mysteries, but they're not really, although usually there is something odd going on that Isabel is trying to sort out. They remind me more of the 44 Scotland Street books, of which Audible does not have the complete series, so I had to find another. I'm glad I found this one.
The reason I decided to review this one is that, being the first book in the series, a new listener might look at these reviews first and I wanted to make a suggestion.
When I first started listening to these books, the picture of Isabel that formed in my mind was actually Maggie Smith, circa Harry Potter. I'm sure it was to do with the accent and Isabel's personality, combined with the roles I've seen Maggie Smith play. Ms. Smith is a wonderful actress and attractive, but she is much too old to be Isabel Dalhousie. This didn't matter so much in the beginning, but later in the series it does, and the image I've had all this time is hard for me to shake now.
So, in order to give some perspective to a new listener, I want to point out that Isabel is actually about the same age as, say, Jennifer Aniston. If you can picture Jennifer as a Scottish philosopher with an adult niece, you will be much closer to "reality" than I have been.
Other than that, the only advice I have is to relax and enjoy and prepare to be hooked.
different story line
Yes, not fond of the "philosopher" and her unravelling stories.
She has an easy listening voice, good clear speech and great reading style.
I enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective books, Corduroy Mansions etc. This character just did nothing for me.
cook, lawyer, knitter, mom, grandmom
Whereas I think I'd very much enjoy Isabel Dalhousie as a friend or tea companion, she is somewhat lame as an amateur Private Investigator. I have a minor in philosophy and a law degree, and I understand her many, many philosophical and ethical references very well. From a standpoint of the story, there are TOO many, and many of them are not really pertinent. That a woman of that maturity and sophistication does not seem to understand the emotional drives of herself or the people around her strains credulity as well. I've very much enjoyed McCall Smith in other works, particularly the "Ladies Detective Agency" series set in Botswana. I'd enjoy Isabel more with less meandering philosophy and more action. The actress, Davina Porter, who narrates is spot on.
Not enough resolution.
Her wide range of marvelous accents!
Maybe. A scriptwriter would tighten it up. I doubt most of Hollywood would get most of the what Isabel's talking about without their Wikipedia, anyway!
Too much philosophy--a little slow--the reader had a grating voice and didn't do well on the different voice.
Not sure--I would if I knew the books would be more like The #1 Ladies Detective Agency
Maybe Katherine Kellgrin
Yes, it had a somewhat interesting storyline, with the mystery in it.
less descriptive thinking and more action
yes as I like the 1st ladies detective series of his.
she just was not too exciting.
there is too many small characters and not enough action.
The listening experience would have been much more enjoyable if the plot and protagonist were more interesting.
I was particularly disappointed in the main character, Isabel Dalhousie. She was rather unlikable and tedious and her pontifications on ethics made me want to stop listening on more than occasion.
I have never listened to Davina Porter before, but I liked her narration.
I would cut Isabel Dalhousie! Unfortunately, that doesn't leave Alexander McCall Smith much to work with.
I had enjoyed reading another book by the author, and assumed (perhaps unfairly), that this book it would translate well into audio. His meandering style didn't capture my interest while listening, as it did while I was reading.
I found myself wondering what the heck she was talking about and why a lot. It went on and on about things not pertaining to the plot, and I would get very bored. I found myself losing focus on the story and getting lost in my thoughts. Certainly not gripping. Not my cup of tea, but for others I'm sure it was relaxing and nice. It was by no means a page turner.
Yes, but not this series. I'll give the Ladies Detective Agency a try.
The Narrator does a good job. It was an adjustment for me getting used to the Brittish accent.