Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I: Isabel Dalhousie

If there is one character whose shoes I would love to step into, it would be Isabel Dalhousie, the literary sleuth conjured by Alexander McCall Smith. Isabel is a philosopher and prone to introspection that I find unequivocally delightful. She is the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, loves Auden and her hometown of Edinburgh. The fun begins when she is absolutely unable to resist prying into things that are really none of her business. Of course she keeps telling herself that she shouldn't be prying but curiosity does get the better of her and she manages to get to the bottom of several puzzling event that happen around her. Like who was the guy who plummeted to his death from the top tier of the theater, locking glance with her for a fraction of a second on his way down? Did he just fall? Or was he pushed? Or was it suicide?
Every time questions plague her until moral conscience pushes her into letting curiosity win.
Then there are gems of thought-seeds as I call it. Lovely sentences that make you pause when you read them and ponder a bit (may not be in agreement, in fact many times for me it is in argument).
When Jamie, her boyfriend, asks her
"What would it be like not to be able to go out in case people recognised you? what if you had done something so ... appalling that you couldn't face people?"
Strands of thoughts later came the lovely gem:
Without shame, guilt became a toothless thing, a prosecutor with no penalties up his sleeve.
Isabel's housekeeper Grace (makes me realize that McCall Smith likes the name Grace) is a stern Edinburgh lady, who is enamored by the occult, which makes for an interesting side story. Then of course there is Brother Fox. The red fox who slinks about at the bottom of Isabel's garden. Her niece Cat and her delicatessen, Isabel's little baby  boy Charlie, all characters in Isabel's life who together weave tapestries of delightful stories worth a couple hours with a nice cup of tea by the fireplace. In the company of threads of thought of the philosopher, as, say, she rejects an article for the Review of Moral Ethics.
"Letters with moral merit," she said to Charlie, "are often very dull. Humour, Charlie, needs a victim."


  1. Lovely post as usual! I've read a couple of Isabel Dalhousie books and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the characters. Thank you for reminding that I need to read some more!

  2. I don't really have an idea about her books. I should probably read it! :)

    1. Do tell me what you think of it, when you do. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Don't forget the dreadful Professor Lettuce!

    1. Ah the Lost Art of Gratitude. Loved that one too! Thanks, Amanda!

  4. Enjoy your writing SK... Keep it up!


Thank you for visiting! I'd really love to read your comments on my blogs/writing, so please feel free to leave a note.