Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Tag

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate

Alexander McCall Smith’s (2005) Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, Vintage Canada, ISBN #13:  978-0-676-97666-3, paperback, 261 pages.

What does it mean to transplant a heart?  Is it merely a surgical procedure?  Or does one’s heart carry with it the trials and tribulations – the heart ache, if you will – of the life they have led?

These are the questions McCall Smith addresses in the second in his series of Isabel Dalhousie mysteries, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate.

Once again, the Scottish town of Edinburgh with its rugged landscape and small town characteristics is featured prominently.

Once again Isabel Dalhousie, with the assistance of her niece, Cat, her friend, Jamie, and her housekeeper, Grace, attempts to unravel a mystery.

This mystery, however, is one of the heart.

The Sunday Philosophy Club

Alexander McCall Smith’s (2004) The Sunday Philosophy Club, Vintage Canada, ISBN # 0-676-97665-4, paperback, 247 pages.

Meet Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and amateur sleuth.

Isabel is a 40 something year old woman (although I imagine her much older) who lives alone in the small Scottish village of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is a village not unlike the small Ontario towns in Alice Munro’s writing and Isabel is highly conscious of the fact that everyone seems to know everyone else’s business.  At the same time, however, Isabel goes to great lengths to get to the heart of matters.

In this first in the series, Isabel unravels the mysterious death of a young man who falls from the upper balcony of the opera hall.

Joining her in her investigations is:  her housekeeper, Grace, who doesn’t mince words; her niece, Cat, who owns the local delicatessen (a gathering place for coffee and conversation), and; Cat’s former boyfriend, Jaimie.

Jaimie is the most present of the secondary characters as he is frequently called upon by Isabel to be a male escort of sorts and to come over when she is fearful in the house alone at night.  They are good friends and Isabel often expresses the desire for he and Cat to reconcile.  At the same time, however, she is conscious of her own feelings for Jaimie but, as an older woman (you can see why I keep thinking she must be older than 40 something), she keeps her feelings in check.

As an individual who has not read a lot of mysteries I felt that I was getting closer to understanding the small town dynamics of this Scottish village with all of its ethical dilemmas when reading this book than I was to solving a mystery.  That said, a mystery was solved and it was Isabel Dalhousie’s questioning nature that was responsible for solving it.