The Sunday Philosophy Club (Sunday Philosophy Club, #1)
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The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie #1)

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3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  12,123 ratings  ·  1,466 reviews
Amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher who also uses her training to solve unusual mysteries. Isabel is Editor of the "Review of Applied Ethics, which addresses such issues as "truth telling in sexual relationships," and she also hosts The Sunday Philosophy Club at her house in Edinburgh. In this first book in McCall Smith's new series Isbel investigates how a yo...more
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Published September 1st 2004 by Recorded Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Ellie
To be honest, I'd have to call this series a guilty pleasure. The plotlines don't always ring true to life, although I've never been a wealthy philosopher living in Scotland, with a major crush on my niece's ex-boyfriend, a bassoon player who's at least a decade younger than me. I'm not as intellectual as Isabel, or as nosy, but I happen to love anyone who ponders the bigger moral questions in life, and who loves a crossword puzzle and a cup of freshly brewed coffee. So there you have it. Althou...more
John
I was just telling a friend that I rarely leave two-star reviews, but this is one of them. I probably wouldn't have read the entire book (Davina Porter's usual terrific narration notwithstanding), except for the resolution of the "mystery" presented at the outset; to avoid a spoiler, I'll leave it that Smith handles that aspect well in terms of a surprise.
What isn't handled so well are the characters - there wasn't a single one I care to hear about enough to read the second book in this series....more
Sharon
Aug 14, 2008 Sharon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who wonder about life
Recommended to Sharon by: read other words by the author
I didn't think I would like this series as I found myself comparing Isabel to Precious (from the author's other series 'The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency). The contrasts were obvious.Isabel Dalhousie is a very different heroine from Precious. Where Precious was a gentle simple soul Isabel is complex creature. Precious accepts life as it is and Isabel wonders why? As time went on I found myself growing fond of Isabel. She is just as fascinating a creature as Precious once you understand her.

On...more
Joanna
I wasn't crazy about the narrator. She's too airy to narrate a whodunit. The protagonist, Isabel Dalhousie, is the editor of an ethics magazine and the asides about ethics and philosophy are as dry as they sound - the ethical quandaries she finds herself in aren't engaging. And she needs a flaw - committing ethical hypocrisy, farting in an elevator, something. It's no wonder she can't get the Sunday Philosophy Club together because she's so boring! (Why is that the name of the book when they nev...more
Gayle
Alexander McCall Smith is best known for his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, of which I am a fan. He has another series featuring Isabel Dalhousie, a cultured and wealthy Scottish lady (and I use the term advisedly), which sounds far more like my usual preference than a genial African woman. So I began the first book in the Dalhousie series, The Sunday Philosophy Club, with great anticipation.

Alas, my hopes foundered. It started off well enough; Isabel sees a man fall past her, from the t...more
Katie
With all due respect to McCall Smith's fans, I couldn't stand this book. I'm sure there are many folks out there who loved it--it was, after all, a national bestseller--but I found it much too British-upper-class for my taste. The book, for a cheap little large-ish-print paperback mystery, is way too heady and intellectual for what, to me, looks like a "beach book". Ninety percent of the book was taken up by this woman's philosophical ramblings over why she is or isn't in love with her niece's e...more
Abbi
While I love Alexander McCall Smith's Ladies Detective Agency Series, I was less into this book. He follows a similar pattern and writing style in that he focuses on the characters, with the mystery being secondary. The problem is that I found the characters mildly interesting, and the solution to the mystery somewhat boring. Also, I felt the title had little to nothing to do with the book, other than a mention of the Sunday Philosophy Club. With Mma Ramotswe, I was fascinated from the first cha...more
Anne Hawn Smith
As with most of Alexander McCall Smiths books, the plot is only half the story. This series is about Isabelle Dalhousie, an educated middle aged woman living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She reviews magazine articles for a Philosophy of Ethics journal and is a member of the Sunday Philosophy club if and when it meets. We not only get a picture of her comfortable life, but a treatise on the ethical dilemmas of everyday life.

I found the ethical delemmas to be extremely interesting. When I was in colle...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Report: Isabel Dalhousie is a quiet, contented woman. She's got all the money she will ever need, she lives in a comfortable home where she grew up, she has survived the ghastly experience of loving a rotten man. She edits the Review of Applied Ethics because she's a philosopher, and because she's extremely interested in the subject of ethics (see above re: rotten man), and because she doesn't need any money or want any fame.

It's a quiet life. Then Isabel sees a murd...more
Erin
So my office has a shelf of donated books that we exchange with one another, and last week I found myself - unusually and unexpectedly - without a book in my bag, so I picked up Alexander McCall Smith’s The Sunday Philosophy Club, having heard good things about The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency and being keen to work on my “spies and detectives” category. Let this be a lesson in choosing books: do not choose out of expediency and do not choose out of the vague remembrance that someone once said t...more
jill
Okay, I have always read this author's name as "Alexandra McCall Smith," I guess because his really famous series is that African ladies' detective club one, and I'm a big sexist jerk. I was telling my mom about the books I'd picked up at the Richmond Public Library book sale, and she had to correct me. Oops.
I didn't enjoy this much. The mystery wasn't very interesting. I didn't care for the subplot about the niece's love-life or the sub-subplot about the main character's lost love from twenty y...more
Kate
Although Isabel, the main character, is described as being in her early 40s I kept picturing someone at least 25 years older. The prim, didactic editor of a small journal of applied philosophy gets herself mixed up in investigating the death of a young man at the symphony, and her sheltered life is mildly disrupted as she tries to figure out whether he was murdered. I found Isabel's incessant philosophizing and moral navel-gazing irritating; as most of the book is told from her point of view wit...more
Sue
I seem to depend upon Alexander McCall Smith to see me through a cramped plane ride, but most recently I sought rescue from help-I’ve-been-doing-taxes-all-day. I decided to make the acquaintance of Isabel Dalhousie, who, like Precious Ramotswe of The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, solves mysteries while drifting easily among her friends and delivering words of wisdom. She also muses quite a bit, as befits the editor of The Review of Applied Ethics. One thing she does not do is actually attend a me...more
Will Byrnes
Smith has created yet another female detective. This time it is Isabel Dalhousie, an independent 40-something who leads the club of the title. She is not a professional like Mma Rowatse of the number 1 ladies detective agency series, but a gifted amateur in the manner of Miss Marple. She is a lady of independent means so never needs be concerned about having to handle the mundane to put haggis on the table. The Edinburgh setting certainly gives it a more British setting than can be found in Afri...more
Martha
Dec 11, 2007 Martha rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery and philosophy lovers
I love the fact that Isabelle Dalhousie is the president and cofounder of a Sunday philosophy club that can never get around to meeting because Sunday is such a bad day....I also like her categorizations of people. For example, she believes in the existence of the "profoundly unreasonable," a small subclass of people who are beyond any reasonableness of solving their own problems or their problems with the interactions of others. I also like her belief that one must have a "moral imagination" in...more
Robin
Occasionally I enjoy bland food. Hey, even bland movies or television can be a nice way to relax sometimes. There is never, never an excuse for a bland book, which is exactly what this is. It's not good, it's not bad, it is absolutely mundane. I can think of no reason that something like this should have even been published. As an aside, a good friend of mine met Smith a few weeks ago in Tanzania. She described him as horrible, complaining, and completely self-absorbed. Somehow, I'm not at all s...more
Lee
I have a confession: I've never read any of the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. I've never liked the sound of them. A lot of friends love them, however, so when I saw this book, the first in Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series, on the clearance table at the library (meaning I paid 20 cents for it, not really free as I've indicated, but close enough) I thought I'd give it a go. I *liked* this book, but I can't say I *loved* this book. McCall Smith can undoubtedly write well but,...more
Amanda Arra
Once you discover Isabelle Dalhousie, just like Precious Ramotswe of the Ladies No. 1 detective agency, you won't want to stop reading. Isabelle is a philospher who reviews an obscure philosophy journal and in her free time, pries into others affairs. Not action packed, but rather filled with insights into human nature and observations about culture and society.
Weinz
Jan 02, 2008 Weinz rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE!
This was a Cleo selection and I'm sorry Robin but it was PAINFUL. The plot was weak, the characters were bland and the "mystery" was tiresome and flimsy. The protagonist tried to beat the other characters at her snobbery. BLAH. Skip it.
Laura
Wonderful read! It was one of the only "big kid books" I've read this year and I loved it. A real page turner. The author sometimes has some pompous asides but Jason tells me that he's a really cool guy in real life- so I forgive him.
Kt.
Great characters. Poorly written. The others in the series are better I hear. His other series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, is excellent. Don't know what happened with this one. Ick.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
This is the dullest book I've read in a long time! I can hardly believe this is the same author who writes the lively Precious Romotswe novels. In the first place, the Sunday Philosophy Club never convenes; you never hear anything about the members. I'm hardly surprised, since the president is a professional philosopher (how much does that pay?) who never does anything. Independently wealty (and it's a good thing, I guess) she does cryptic crosswords (probably in ink), and there's a lot of unnec...more
Susan
I'd have to give this book 1.5 stars; I didn't give up on it, although I was often tempted. I had heard such wonderful things about this author's other series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, but I wasn't able to get an e-book from that series from the library. When I saw this book, by the same author, with a female detective in Edinburgh I thought it would be perfect. I am interested in Scotland, and I figured it would be a nice light read similar to a Miss Marple book. Wrong on both counts...more
Selman
I had a hunch on how this book will be when I see the pictures of Alexander McCall Smith (a.k.a. yaşlı, tonton amca) and my hunch turned out right.*

His style was not hilariously funny but it ensured a smile on my lips through most of the book. The story was not my-brain-is-on-fire clever but there was neither a bit of shallowness in it, and I liked it in general. I especially liked the ending. It gave me pleasure to guess that this tonton amca probably knew that anyone but the modest readers wil...more
Chazzle
I really liked this book a lot. Had I known Alexander McCall Smith was so good, I would have read him a long time ago. Now I'm going to read him more.

The author definitely has the writing chops. Here’s a pretty amusing excerpt:


“ ‘…And then, when we arrived at his parents’ place in Cork, it was a middle-class bungalow with a Sacred Heart on the kitchen wall. And his mother did her best to freeze me out. That was awful. We had a flaming row after I came right out and asked her whether she disliked...more
Rebecca
This is the first book in the Isabel Dalhousie series, and while fans of the Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency series will recognize the folksy and cozy narrative style, Isabel Dalhousie is a different kind of protagonist than Mma Ramotswe.

Like the Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency books, this story is not plot driven, but character driven. Like the Homer Kelly mysteries of Jane Langton, Alexander McCall Smith's mysteries tend to be on the lighter side (relatively gore-free), but filled with historic...more
Jennifer
Can you tell I have been reading through most of Alexander McCall Smith's books lately? It has been a bit of a sad summer for me and his books have filled a real need to escape for a few minutes to foreign destinations. In this series of books, we meet a Scottish heroine, a philosopher named Isabel, who lives alone and is quite independent yet lonely. She is exactly my age, 42! :)

Isabel has a habit of involving herself in other people's lives...in this novel she witnesses someone fall off the ba...more
Jennie
It really pains me to say this about anything by Alexander McCall Smith, but I really hated this book. It's supposed to be a mystery, but aside from the death at the beginning of the story, there's really no mention of an investigation until about 90 pages in. The main character comes across as something of a busybody with too much money and not enough to do with herself. The pages-long philosophical tangents were pointless, and it got to the point where if I saw the word "moral" just one more t...more
Meg
An interesting and light read about Isabel, an independently wealthy single woman who is a moral philosopher especially interested in ethics of morality. This interest colors her view of even simple gestures in ilfe which is what makes the story interesting. She is a bit of a detective, working at mysteries of peoples' actions through the eyes of her moral responsibility to get involved in them. How does this guy write so many books so fast?!
Spiegel
I didn't find this nearly as charming as the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Nothing much happens for a lot of the book -- surprising given that it begins with someone falling to their death -- although it's realistic that an amateur detective wouldn't be able to investigate things properly. I keep thinking that the main character could have been an interesting subversion (or is it a deconstruction?) of the genre, but it didn't quite work for me. Maybe I would have enjoyed the book more if t...more
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Isabel Dalhousie 12 29 Dec 23, 2013 12:21PM  
La Stamberga dei ...: Il club dei filosofi dilettanti di Alexander McCall Smith 1 7 Oct 30, 2012 02:35AM  
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  • The Tale of Hill Top Farm (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, #1)
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  • A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs #8)
  • A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #1)
  • Queen's Ransom (Ursula Blanchard, #3)
  • Aberystwyth Mon Amour (Aberystwyth Noir, #1)
  • Hush Now, Don't You Cry  (Molly Murphy Mysteries, #11)
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  • A Christmas Beginning (Christmas Stories, #5)
  • Jane and the Man of the Cloth (Jane Austen Mysteries, #2)
  • Death of a Snob (Hamish Macbeth, #6)
  • Deadly Nightshade (Martha's Vineyard Mystery, #1)
  • Playing With Fire (Inspector Banks, #14)
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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, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what...more
More about Alexander McCall Smith...
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1) Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2) Morality for Beautiful Girls (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #3) The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #4) The Full Cupboard of Life (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5)

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“She was made for untidy rooms and rumpled beds.” 125 likes
“There was a distinction between lying and telling half-truths, but it was a very narrow one.” 12 likes
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