Friends, Lovers, Chocolate: Book 2 by Alexander McCall SmithFriends, Lovers, Chocolate: Book 2 by Alexander McCall Smith

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate: Book 2

byAlexander McCall Smith

Paperback | August 29, 2006

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The delightful second installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s already hugely popular new detective series, The Sunday Philosophy Club, starring the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie — editor of the Journal of Applied Ethics — and her no-nonsense housekeeper, Grace.

When Isabel’s niece, Cat, asks Isabel to run her delicatessen while she attends a wedding in Italy, Isabel meets a man with a most interesting problem. He recently had a heart transplant, and is suddenly plagued with memories of events that never happened to him. The situation appeals to Isabel as a philosophical question. Is the heart truly the seat of the soul? And it piques her insatiable curiosity: could the memories be connected with the donor’s demise? Grace, of course, thinks it is none of Isabel’s business. Add to the mix the lothario Cat brings home from the wedding in Italy, who, in accordance with all that Isabel knows about lotharios, shouldn’t be trusted . . . but goodness, he is charming.

That makes two mysteries of the heart to be solved — just the thing for Isabel Dalhousie.


From the Hardcover edition.
ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street series and the Corduroy Mansions series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has se...
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Title:Friends, Lovers, Chocolate: Book 2Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 7.96 × 5.22 × 0.86 inPublished:August 29, 2006Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0676976662

ISBN - 13:9780676976663

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from An interesting read Isabel Dalhousie , an editor of a philosophy journal is ready to help anyone according to het righteous mind. Ian , a man who had a recent heart transplant confides with her that he sees a vision of a man. Isabel thinks this must be the murderer of the heart donor! The story unravels. Isabel has a "crush" for her niece's ex boy friend Jamie and the story depicts how their lives rolls on.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Isabel Dalhousie # 2 The star of this series is the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie — editor of the Journal of Applied Ethics — and her no-nonsense housekeeper, Grace. Cat, Isabel's niece asks her to look after the delicatessen while she attends a wedding in Italy. A man comes in with an interesting problem. He has received a heart transplant and is now seeing visions of a man standing over his donor. Should Isabel get involved? She does and gets involved in all sorts of moral and ethical dilemmas. Also Ian her very good companion who happens to suffer from unrequited love with Cat has found another woman and has also received a very good job offer from London. Isabel finds herself jealous of his new girlfriend and upset that he might move. What to do, what to do? Cat upon her return brings back a Lothario that she thinks might be suitable for Isabel even though the Italian wants to be better acquainted with Cat. Is this man to be trusted? I love this series as it asks those hard questions and does not give you the answers but rather makes you think what your answer would be.
Date published: 2013-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great series The man in the brown Harris tweed overcoat - double-breasted with three small leather-covered buttons on the cuffs - made his way slowly along the street that led down the spine of Edinburgh.
Date published: 2013-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great fun Another great story in the Dalhousie series. Since I started reading this set with the fourth one, it's actually really nice to go back and see how the characters and their relationships developed. Makes me wonder why I disliked the #1 Ladies Detective agency so much. Perhaps i will give it another shot?
Date published: 2010-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing The concept of "cell memory" is very intriguing and Alexander McCall Smith covers it so well via Isabel's curious mind. I just hope Isabel and Jamie become a couple...they are so well suited, who cares about their age difference! I started on this author with the "No 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series, and have continued on with this series as well as the 44 Scotland Street series. All are wonderful, and I can't wait for next instalments of each.
Date published: 2007-10-21

Read from the Book

Chapter one The man in the brown Harris tweed overcoat—double-breasted with three small leather-covered buttons on the cuffs—made his way slowly along the street that led down the spine of Edinburgh. He was aware of the seagulls which had drifted in from the shore and which were swooping down onto the cobblestones, picking up fragments dropped by somebody who had been careless with a fish. Their mews were the loudest sound in the street at that moment, as there was little traffic and the city was unusually quiet. It was October, it was mid-morning, and there were few people about. A boy on the other side of the road, scruffy and tousle-haired, was leading a dog along with a makeshift leash—a length of string. The dog, a small Scottish terrier, seemed unwilling to follow the boy and glanced for a moment at the man as if imploring him to intervene to stop the tugging and the pulling. There must be a saint for such dogs, thought the man; a saint for such dogs in their small prisons. The man reached the St. Mary’s Street crossroads. On the corner on his right was a pub, the World’s End, a place of resort for fiddlers and singers; on his left, Jeffrey Street curved round and dipped under the great arch of the North Bridge. Through the gap in the buildings, he could see the flags on top of the Balmoral Hotel: the white-on-blue cross of the Saltire, the Scottish flag, the familiar diagonal stripes of the Union Jack. There was a stiff breeze from the north, from Fife, which made the flags stand out from their poles with pride, like the flags on the prow of a ship ploughing into the wind. And that, he thought, was what Scotland was like: a small vessel pointed out to sea, a small vessel buffeted by the wind. He crossed the street and continued down the hill. He walked past a fishmonger, with its gilt fish sign suspended over the street, and the entrance to a close, one of those small stone passages that ran off the street underneath the tenements. And then he was where he wanted to be, outside the Canongate Kirk, the high-gabled church set just a few paces off the High Street. At the top of the gable, stark against the light blue of the sky, the arms of the kirk, a stag’s antlers, gilded, against the background of a similarly golden cross. He entered the gate and looked up. One might be in Holland, he thought, with that gable; but there were too many reminders of Scotland—the wind, the sky, the grey stone. And there was what he had come to see, the stone which he visited every year on this day, this day when the poet had died at the age of twenty-four. He walked across the grass towards the stone, its shape reflecting the gable of the kirk, its lettering still clear after two hundred years. Robert Burns himself had paid for this stone to be erected, in homage to his brother in the muse, and had written the lines of its inscription: This simple stone directs Pale Scotia’s way/To pour her sorrows o’er her poet’s dust. He stood quite still. There were others who could be visited here. Adam Smith, whose days had been filled with thoughts of markets and economics and who had coined an entire science, had his stone here, more impressive than this, more ornate; but this was the one that made one weep. He reached into a pocket of his overcoat and took out a small black notebook of the sort that used to advertise itself as waterproof. Opening it, he read the lines that he had written out himself, copied from a collection of Robert Garioch’s poems. He read aloud, but in a low voice, although there was nobody present save for him and the dead: Canongait kirkyaird in the failing year Is auld and grey, the wee roseirs are bare, Five gulls leem white agin the dirty air. Why are they here? There’s naething for them here Why are we here oursels? Yes, he thought. Why am I here myself? Because I admire this man, this Robert Fergusson, who wrote such beautiful words in the few years given him, and because at least somebody should remember and come here on this day each year. And this, he told himself, was the last time that he would be able to do this. This was his final visit. If their predictions were correct, and unless something turned up, which he thought was unlikely, this was the last of his pilgrimages. He looked down at his notebook again. He continued to read out loud. The chiselled Scots words were taken up by the wind and carried away: Strang, present dool Ruggs at my hairt. Lichtlie this gin ye daur: Here Robert Burns knelt and kissed the mool. Strong, present sorrow Tugs at my heart. Treat this lightly if you dare: Here Robert Burns knelt and kissed the soil. He took a step back. There was nobody there to observe the tears which had come to his eyes, but he wiped them away in embarrassment. Strang, present dool. Yes. And then he nodded towards the stone and turned round, and that was when the woman came running up the path. He saw her almost trip as the heel of a shoe caught in a crack between two paving stones, and he cried out. But she recovered herself and came on towards him, waving her hands. “Ian. Ian.” She was breathless. And he knew immediately what news she had brought him, and he looked at her gravely. She said, “Yes.” And then she smiled, and leant forward to embrace him. “When?” he asked, stuffing the notebook back into his pocket. “Right away,” she said. “Now. Right now. They’ll take you down there straightaway.” They began to walk back along the path, away from the stone. He had been warned not to run, and could not, as he would rapidly become breathless. But he could walk quite fast on the flat, and they were soon back at the gate to the kirk, where the black taxi was waiting, ready to take them. “Whatever happens,” he said as they climbed into the taxi, “come back to this place for me. It’s the one thing I do every year. On this day.” “You’ll be back next year,” she said, reaching out to take his hand. On the other side of Edinburgh, in another season, Cat, an attractive young woman in her mid-twenties, stood at Isabel Dalhousie’s front door, her finger poised over the bell. She gazed at the stonework. She noticed that in parts the discoloration was becoming more pronounced. Above the triangular gable of her aunt’s bedroom window, the stone was flaking slightly, and a patch had fallen off here and there, like a ripened scab, exposing fresh skin below. This slow decline had its own charms; a house, like anything else, should not be denied the dignity of natural ageing—within reason, of course. For the most part, the house was in good order; a discreet and sympathetic house, in spite of its size. And it was known, too, for its hospitality. Everyone who called there—irrespective of their mission—would be courteously received and offered, if the time was appropriate, a glass of dry white wine in spring and summer and red in autumn and winter. They would then be listened to, again with courtesy, for Isabel believed in giv- ing moral attention to everyone. This made her profoundly egalitarian, though not in the non-discriminating sense of many contemporary egalitarians, who sometimes ignore the real moral differences between people (good and evil are not the same, Isabel would say). She felt uncomfortable with moral relativists and their penchant for non-judgementalism. But of course we must be judgemental, she said, when there is something to be judged. Isabel had studied philosophy and had a part-time job as general editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. It was not a demanding job in terms of the time it required, and it was badly paid; in fact, at Isabel’s own suggestion, rising production costs had been partly offset by a cut in her own salary. Not that payment mattered; her share of the Louisiana and Gulf Land Company, left to her by her mother—her sainted American mother, as she called her—provided more than she could possibly need. Isabel was, in fact, wealthy, although that was a word that she did not like to use, especially of herself. She was indifferent to material wealth, although she was attentive to what she described, with characteristic modesty, as her minor projects of giving (which were actually very generous). “And what are these projects?” Cat had once asked. Isabel looked embarrassed. “Charitable ones, I suppose. Or eleemosynary if you prefer long words. Nice word that—eleemosynary . . . But I don’t normally talk about it.” Cat frowned. There were things about her aunt that puzzled her. If one gave to charity, then why not mention it? “One must be discreet,” Isabel continued. She was not one for circumlocution, but she believed that one should never refer to one’s own good works. A good work, once drawn at- tention to by its author, inevitably became an exercise in self-congratulation. That was what was wrong with the lists of names of donors in the opera programmes. Would they have given if their generosity was not going to be recorded in the programme? Isabel thought that in many cases they would not. Of course, if the only way one could raise money for the arts was through appealing to vanity, then it was probably worth doing. But her own name never appeared in such lists, a fact which had not gone unnoticed in Edinburgh. “She’s mean,” whispered some. “She gives nothing away.” They were wrong, of course, as the uncharitable so often are. In one year, Isabel, unrecorded by name in any programme and amongst numerous other donations, had given eight thousand pounds to Scottish Opera: three thousand towards a production of Hansel and Gretel, and five thousand to help secure a fine Italian tenor for a Cavalleria Rusticana performed in the ill-fitting costumes of nineteen-thirties Italy, complete with brown-shirted Fascisti in the chorus.From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

1. Isabel again notices Cat’s “inability to tell good men from bad” [p. 14] when Cat describes her friend Kirsty’s fiancé, Salvatore, who won’t disclose what he does for a living. Is Isabel correct about Cat’s weakness for inappropriate men? If she is, is it likely that Cat will ever resume her relationship with Jamie?2. “You could never be me,” says Isabel to Cat. “And I could never be you. We never know enough about another person to be him or her. We think we do, but we can never be sure” [p. 12]. What are the implications of this statement on Isabel’s efforts to solve the mystery that Ian’s heart transplant presents?3. Isabel is forty-two. Jamie tells Isabel that Louise, the married woman he is seeing, “is about your age, actually” [p. 48]. Cat tells Isabel that she’s not interested in Tomasso because of his age, which she says is “About your age. . . . Early forties” [p. 106]. Why is Isabel’s age mentioned so often? Is it because she thinks her chances for love are diminishing as time passes? Are her chances for love diminishing because of her age? Does Isabel have an exaggerated sense of her age?4. How likely does a love affair between Jamie and Isabel seem? If Jamie is in his late twenties, is it likely that he would be romantically interested in Isabel, whom he calls “perhaps my closest friend” [p. 47]? Do you assume that this romance will be developed in upcoming volumes?5. The question Isabel raises on page 54, of whether our possessions in some sense remain ours, is very much related to the feelings and visions Ian experiences after his heart transplant. Ian believes that he may be experiencing the memories of the man whose heart he received. What do you think of the idea that memory might exist at the cellular level [pp. 89–90, 92–93]? What is most interesting about the situation that Ian describes?6. What is unusual about the way Isabel’s mind works? What, for instance, does she mean by saying, “There was a lot that one might say about chocolate, if one thought about it” [p. 67]? Does Isabel think like a writer of fiction, embroidering stories about people and their motivations? In what ways is fiction like moral philosophy?7. Ian says he’s heard that Isabel has a “reputation for discreetly looking into things,” which she herself rephrases as “indecent curiosity. Nosiness, even” [p. 83]. Given Jamie’s and Cat’s disapproval of Isabel’s curiosity, is her need to get involved in such matters as Ian’s “indecent,” or the opposite?8. What questions does the plot raise about the ethics of organ transplants and the rights of families and recipients to know about the person with whom they are engaged in this intimate form of charity? Why does Ian feel the need for contact with the family of his donor?9. Isabel gets into awkward trouble when she assumes too readily that she has discovered the identity of Ian’s donor. How do you view her split-second decision to describe herself as a medium when she meets with the mother of Rory Macleod [pp. 125–31]? Does she make a serious moral error in this situation? Do you agree with her views on “moral proximity,” as she defines it on page 122?10. Grace and Isabel, housekeeper and employer, have a conversation regarding Isabel’s romantic prospects. Grace tells Isabel, “You’re kind. Men like you. . . . They love talking to you,” and Isabel replies, “Men don’t like women who think too much. They want to do the thinking” [p. 170]. How true is this observation? Is Isabel too intelligent to be thought of as desirable by the majority of men?11. Where, and in what kinds of situations, are the moments of comedy in the story? Does the comedy result from a farcical mishap, or a wry observation, or the way people speak to each other? How would you describe McCall Smith’s sense of humor?12. Are Grace and Isabel friends, despite their differences in social class and education? What kind of a person is Grace, and what does she bring to Isabel’s life? Is it surprising that a pragmatist like Grace would believe in spiritualism?13. Isabel isn’t perfect, and she sometimes makes social errors in a moment of impulse. When she recommends kindness and honesty to Tomasso in the restaurant, she is reacting to her own uncertainty about Tomasso and his motives [p. 178]. Is he being dishonest with her and with Cat? Why is Isabel attracted to Tomasso? What are the subtle things that happen in Isabel’s mind during their conversation in the restaurant [pp. 176–84]?14. Ian and Isabel have a conversation about Scottish poets in which Ian reflects on William Dunbar’s phrase “taken out of the country.”* How does McCall Smith’s prose style, as well as Isabel’s musings, reflect the importance of "clear good language"[p. 197]?*For complete text of Dunbar’s poem, “Lament for the Mahers,” see http://www.bartleby.com/101/21.html15. Jamie tells Isabel that he won’t take the job with the London Symphony because of Cat, and Isabel angers him by saying, “She won’t come back to you, Jamie. You can’t spend your life hoping for something that is never going to happen” [p. 225]. Is she right or wrong to say this? Does it seem that Jamie needs to understand what Isabel is trying to tell him?16. What traits make Isabel a likeable character? What does her character tell readers about the ways in which ethical thinking can enter into the circumstances of everyday life?17. Why is Brother Fox in the novel [pp. 100, 216–17, 261]? What does he represent? What is the effect of the novel’s ending?

Editorial Reviews

“In his patented, gently ironic, witty fashion, McCall Smith provides another winning story.” The Toronto Sun

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate delivers on its title, offering a fulfilling mystery and satisfying visit with the Edinburgh connection.” Calgary Herald