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Publisher's Summary

One afternoon over coffee at Cat’s delicatessen, a friend of Isabel’s shares a call for help from Duncan Munrowe. Crafty thieves have stolen a prized painting from his collection, a work by the celebrated French artist Nicolas Poussin that was earmarked for donation to the Scottish National Gallery. Munrowe has been approached by the thieves and hopes that Isabel will assist him in recovering the painting. Never one to refuse an appeal, she agrees, and discovers that the thieves may be closer to the owner than he ever would have expected.

Against the backdrop of this intriguing case, Isabel copes with life’s issues, large and small. She and Jamie have begun to suspect that their three-year-old son, Charlie, might be a budding mathematical genius. What should be done about it? Then there is the question of whether Isabel should help a young couple who want to move in together - against the wishes of the girl’s parents. The boyfriend is hoping Isabel might intercede. As she wrestles with these problems, Isabel finds herself tested as a parent, a philosopher and a friend.

But, as always, she manages to use the right combination of good sense, quick wits and a kind heart to come to the right solution, proving once again why Isabel Dalhousie has become one of Alexander McCall Smith’s most beloved characters.

©2012 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2012 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Story

Great story, simply gorgeous narration...

Oftentimes the first thing I do when I log onto Audible is check if there is a new story by Alexander McCall Smith. If there is, I always immediately download and by the next two days I have listened to the whole story.

I really love this series because of the delightful characters and the main character's concern on how to live an ethical life with the situations that come up in front of her, rather than a theoretical situation. I think the author, Smith, does this intentionally.

Not to worry if you are not "down" for ethics in good stories! But if you do decide to get this book, I would suggest starting with the first of the series and moving forward.

The narration by Davina Porter is just so gorgeous!

As an aside, it is simply amazing how the author can invent a three-dimensional, new character and bring the reader along to "get it" on the spot.

I hope you do listen to this book and enjoy it.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 02-17-13

watching clouds

Another great story from Alexander McCall Smith. I enjoy Isabel's self dialogue she goes through more ethical problems in her when she should be listening to someone talk. This story has here again a Cat's delicatessen helping out when Cat is sick and staff has a problem. Jami is busy with his music and Charlie is being taught mathematics by Grace which results in a problem with Isabel. Duncan Munrowe asks Isabel to help him recover his stolen painting by French artist Nicolas Poussin. Isabel can find the most unique ways of solving problems. Davina Porter and her slight Scottish accent is Isabel. She is a delight to listen to. Can not wait for the next book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Another Isabel winner!

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

The plots of the Isabel Dalhousie novels are subtle: more about human nature and interactions than action or events. That said, this one held together very well and kept me moving forward as interesting things were revealed and just when I (or Isabel) thought I knew something, it was likely to be revealed that maybe we were off base. Nicely done!

Which character – as performed by Davina Porter – was your favorite?

Oh, Isabel is always my favorite. I always listen to Porter's performances because her accent gives just the right flavor. To me, she IS Isabel.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I don't listen to this series to get an extreme reaction. I listen because getting inside Isabel's head, where most of the story takes place, reveals things to me about my own interior monologues, both generous and sometimes a tad too quick to intellectualize and draw conclusions.

Any additional comments?

Eagerly awaiting the next Isabel Dalhousie novel! Each gets better than the last.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Bull
  • Blacksburg, VA, USA
  • 11-10-12

Vintage Dalhousie ...

... Though with fewer twists and moral dilemmas than the others in this series. No ethical questions that require more than a brief consideration from Isabel, and she never gets herself into one of her famous pickles. I believe I read somewhere that these books are consolidations of serial installments McCall Smith wrote for "The Scotsman" newspaper. He may have been a little behind deadline on a couple of the episodes, here chapters, and they don't all have the richness and depth we've come to expect.

I love all of McCall Smith's Edinburgh novels. Besides being hugely entertaining they are all narrated by three of the greats in Audible's stable. Simon Prebble does the Corduroy Mansions series, Robert Ian Mackenzie the 44 Scotland Street series, and Davina Porter does Isabel Dalhousie. It's going to be a sad day if Audible ever casts a different narrator for Isabel, she's is pitch perfect.

The other two Edinburgh series are to be highly recommended as well, as they feature dogs, and I like dogs: Angus Lordie's dog Cyril (with the gold tooth) and Freddie de la Hay in Corduroy Mansions. Those series have, I believe, a richer cast of characters as well, ranging from hoodlums (Lard O'Connor) and precocious kids (Bertie).

A good read. At just over eight hours, it's just about perfect for a medium-range road trip.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Lee
  • Blue Anchor, NJ, United States
  • 01-07-13

Light and lovely

These books have the feeling of visiting with an old friend. We get to see the little ups and downs of Isabel's life, she dabbles in a puzzle of some sort, we check in with Grace, Charlie, Jaime and Kat- then we're done until our next visit over a cup of tea. Couldn't be better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Untidy ending is uncharacteristic of author

Not my favorite of McCall Smith's work. The story line dragged and the ending was uncharacteristically inconclusive. Pass on this story and you won't be missing much, sorry to say.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JJE
  • Wilsonville, AL, United States
  • 01-30-13

Awesome book terrible audio

If you could sum up The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds in three words, what would they be?

I loved the book however the audio needs to be changed. I was constantly having to adjust the volume or just miss out on what was said. Loud then normal then what sounded like mumbling - voice was too low.

What did you like best about this story?

Everything! I love AMS!

What didn’t you like about Davina Porter’s performance?

I didn't. Read above.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listen while I drive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable

I love the author's clear and concise style. It is always fun to catch up with Isabel's life. I highly recommend the whole series!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Need an antidote to the ailment of contemporary existence?

I love Alexander McCall Smith! His novels delve gently and humorously into those things that are most important. This is not escapist literature. Quite the opposite, it connects you, the reader, to the humanity that binds civilized folk to one another. This installment of the Isabel Dalhousie series will not disappoint. Bless you, A. M. S. !

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Mind wandered

Would you try another book from Alexander McCall Smith and/or Davina Porter?

No, I did not care for the stream of consciousness of this book. I stopped halfway to check the reviews to see why so many people liked it. The narrator was good

What do you think your next listen will be?

Mystery

Which character – as performed by Davina Porter – was your favorite?

the nanny

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment, I kept waiting for something to happen. there was no resolution. If I had gotten it from the library I would have returned it unfinished.

Any additional comments?

I gather I was supposed to be interested in her ethical dilemmas but mostly I was bored and my mind wandered just as the characters did and I found I just didn't care.