The Charming Quirks Of Others: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel

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The Charming Quirks Of Others: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel

by Alexander Mccall Smith

Knopf Canada | November 1, 2011 | Trade Paperback

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The seventh installment in the beloved chronicles of Isabel Dalhousie finds our inquisitive heroine facing new intellectual challenges, but buoyed by her recent engagement to the nearly perfect Jamie.

After having dinner with Jamie, Isabel is approached by a pair of old friends, asking her to help them in a rather tricky situation. A successor is being sought for the headmaster position at their alma mater. The board has four final candidates. They received an anonymous letter, however, alleging that one of them has a very serious skeleton in their closet. Could Isabel discreetly look into it? The answer is of course, yes. Although for Isabel the whole investigation is even more revealing: she finds herself attracted to one of the candidates, which complicates her life immeasurably because she is engaged to Jamie, the father of her young son.

Dealing with issues of charity, forgiveness and humility, Isabel''s most recent investigation is a revealing look at the need we all have to keep a little bit of ourselves hidden.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 7.96 × 5.16 × 0.8 in

Published: November 1, 2011

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307399575

ISBN - 13: 9780307399571

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– More About This Product –

The Charming Quirks Of Others: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel

by Alexander Mccall Smith

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 7.96 × 5.16 × 0.8 in

Published: November 1, 2011

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307399575

ISBN - 13: 9780307399571

Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONE     SATURDAY EVENING,” remarked Isabel Dalhousie. “A time for the burning of ears.”   Guy Peploe, seated opposite her in the back neuk at Glass & Thompson’s café, looked at her blankly. Isabel was given to making puzzling pronouncements—he knew that, and did not mind—but this one, he thought, was unusually Delphic.   He stirred his coffee. “I’m not quite with you, Isabel. Not quite. Burning ears?”   She smiled. She had not intended to be opaque, and it was Guy, after all, who had brought up the subject of Saturday evenings; she was merely picking up on the theme. He had mentioned an opening he had attended last Saturday, a show featuring a Scottish realist painter who had been ignored in his lifetime but who was now lauded as a genius. Everybody had been there; which meant, he said with a laugh, everybody who went to Saturday-evening openings at galleries. The remaining four hundred and eighty thousand people who lived in Edinburgh and its immediate environs had presumably been doing something else.   That had triggered Isabel’s remark about burning ears, which she now went on to explain. “What I meant is that on a Saturday evening,” she said, “there are always a number of dinner parties in Edinburgh. The same people go to dinner with the same people. Backwards and forwards. And what do they talk about on these occasions?”   “Thos
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From the Publisher

The seventh installment in the beloved chronicles of Isabel Dalhousie finds our inquisitive heroine facing new intellectual challenges, but buoyed by her recent engagement to the nearly perfect Jamie.

After having dinner with Jamie, Isabel is approached by a pair of old friends, asking her to help them in a rather tricky situation. A successor is being sought for the headmaster position at their alma mater. The board has four final candidates. They received an anonymous letter, however, alleging that one of them has a very serious skeleton in their closet. Could Isabel discreetly look into it? The answer is of course, yes. Although for Isabel the whole investigation is even more revealing: she finds herself attracted to one of the candidates, which complicates her life immeasurably because she is engaged to Jamie, the father of her young son.

Dealing with issues of charity, forgiveness and humility, Isabel''s most recent investigation is a revealing look at the need we all have to keep a little bit of ourselves hidden.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies'' Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"Readers of the previous volumes will find the same quiet delights. . . . Even the quotidian becomes interesting in Smith's deft hands."
-People
 
"Crisp, often funny prose complements the author's limitless reserve of good will and understanding of people in general."
-Publishers Weekly
 
 "[McCall Smith's] sly observations on the human condition remain warm and intelligent, and the evocative description of the Scottish cityscape is utterly beguiling."
-Library Journal
 
"Marks [Isabel Dalhousie's] finest hour to date. . . . A powerful demonstration of Smith's ability to dramatize the ways everyday situations spawn the ethical dilemmas that keep philosophers in business."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
"If this were music, it would be praised and played at daybreak, admired for its sinuousness and structure."
-The Scotsman


From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

1. In an Entertainment Weekly interview Alexander McCall Smith was asked which fictional character he most identifies with, and he answered, "Isabel Dalhousie and I agree on just about everything. She seems to think as I do." Which one of his characters do you most identify or agree with?

2. One of the early reviews called The Charming Quirks of Others "a powerful demonstration of McCall Smith''s ability to dramatize the ways everyday situations spawn the ethical dilemmas that keep philosophers in business." (Kirkus Reviews) Describe some of the dilemmas in the book and discuss what you would have done in Isabel''s or another character''s place.

3. The novel opens with Isabel and Guy Peploe discussing gossip. How does this conversation allude to later events in the book? What is your feeling on gossip? Is it harmless and/or pointless? Does it have real purpose in social settings?

4. Do you agree with Isabel when she considers that "people were only too ready to believe things that were manifestly untrue" and that people are happy to hear others cast in a negative light? Do you think we all do this despite our better judgment?

5. The author discusses the dilemma of a working mother in this novel. "I could spend all my time with Charlie, which is what I would love to do. But would I be any happier? And would it make any difference to Charlie?" Discuss this, and how child rearing is extremely important for a mother, but so is working and feeling responsible for something outside the home. If you have children, did you go to work while raising them or did you stay home, and how did you come to your decision to do one or the other?

6. Isabel often acts on her intuition; sometimes it leads her to the truth, sometimes not. What is your opinion about acting with your gut, or on simple intuition? Discuss some situations where your intuition was correct, and some where it was not.

7. Discuss the theme of forgiveness in the novel.

8. What do you think the author is saying about different kinds of love in the novel (loving your children, your partner, your friends, all of humanity)?

9. What do you make of the title? If we look at others faults as charming or positive, would it be easier to accept or put up with them? And if we openly accepted our own faults, would it be easier to accept others faults? What does Isabel think?

10. Isabel is jealous of Jamie and his friendship with a fellow musician. How does she overcome her jealousy? What are other ways people overcome jealousy? Are there situations where one should simply accept your jealousy and address it head on?

11. Discuss the importance of songs and poetry in this and in all of Alexander McCall Smith''s novels. What role does music and poetry play in the novels and in life?

12. Who are some of the poets that Alexander McCall Smith often quotes in his novels, especially in this Isabel Dalhousie series? Who are some of your favorite poets?

13. Another important cultural element in Isabel''s life, in addition to music and poetry, is art. Various artists are mentioned and this novel focuses on a particular piece of art by Scottish painter Raeburn. How is art tied to Isabel''s life and this novel? Why is Isabel generous with this particular painting of her ancestor?

14. How do art and music help Isabel deal with the ethical issues that pop up in the novels and with the detective work she does "helping" others?

15. Isabel wishes for happiness for Harold Slade, whom she really does not care for and who is a bit of a bully, and she states, "Although it''s harder to love, it''s always better." Do you agree? Discuss a situation you''ve been in where this worked for you.

16. Do you agree with the final phrase of the book, "Loving anything with all your heart always brings about understanding, in time." How does this sentence epitomize or summarize the novel for you?

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