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Unusual Uses for Olive Oil (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #4)

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,181 ratings  ·  222 reviews
Life is so unfair, and it sends many things to try Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs and pillar of the Institute of Romance Philology in the proud Bavarian city of Regensburg.

There is the undeserved rise of his rival (and owner of a one-legged dachshund), Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer; the interminable ramblings of the librarian, Her
Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Anchor (first published October 1st 2011)
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Harry Maier
Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld returns in this fourth intallment of a seriously ironic take on German academic culture. Here's a good question: if Herr Prof Dr Dr honoris causa multi von Igelfeld wife's name is Frau Prof Dr Dr hcm Mortiz-Maria von Igelfeld, what happens when the same Frau becomes herself Prof Dr Dr hcm? She is Frau Prof Dr Dr hcm Herr Prof Dr Dr hcm von Igelfeld. I have often asked myself this question. Being a Prof Dr who lives and works and Germany myself, I found this an ...more
I imagine most fans of AMS are most familiar with his #1 Ladies Detective Agency Series and I have enjoyed those too. But my favorite series is this one(I would give the series 4 stars) Portuguese Irregular Verbs and its academic protagonist Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld and his colleagues at the University of Regensburg's Institute Of Romance Philology. AMS 's subtle humor and gentle spoofing of academia makes me laugh out loud (the complicated issue of the formal title of a wife with ...more
This book is very funny, with the deadpan style of the author's other series, The Ladies #1 Detective Agency. I laughed, and I needed to laugh.
After several years' hiatus, Alexander McCall Smith's Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld series returns, and the professor of romance languages and author of the colossal tome, "Portuguese Irregular Verbs," is as full of himself and naive as ever...and von Igelfeld fans wouldn't want him any other way. As with the previous volumes, McCall Smith creates a character who is much like most of us: someone who wants to believe (and wants others to as well) in his importance and worth, someone who wan ...more
Back to reality for von Igelfeld - it seems a long time ago since he got himself embroiled in political shenanigans in warmer climes in his last outing. Now he is back to the world of academic egos and his terminal case of "not quite getting it" This slim volume contains a series of episodes - the possibility of romance with Frau Benz (and this proves that whilst maddening, he remains underneath it an appealing character because I did feel sorry for him when he blew it completely with a typical ...more
I was surprised to see this book appear at our library since it has been nearly a decade since the original trilogy appeared. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith may or may not enjoy this series. It is a very quirky, in fact, off-the-wall zany humor. It is not everyone's cup of tea (or, ahem, stein of beer), but if you're a fan, rejoice. This book holds the same sort of tongue-in-cheek- fun of the original books. Others reviewers have noted that you may not want to start the series with this book. It ...more
Maria Thermann
The problem with all of Alexander McCall Smith's writings is that they are so addictive! After reading the first chapter of pretty much anything the good man writes, I want to go out and get the next book in the series, so I can be sure to fuel my addiction without going cold turkey for more than a minute!

The delightful Professor Doctor von Igelfeld series is set in my own country, Germany, always an unusual choice for an English-language writer. Although the unlikely hero of the piece, Professo
Adrienne Kiser
This has been my favorite book thus far in the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series; Professor Dr von Igelfeld is more of a sympathetic figure while still managing to do absolutely everything wrong. He reflects on every misstep and continues to reach the same conclusion (it's not me, it's you) but by the end of the book has a realization that he might not actually be happy.

Poor Professor Dr von Igelfeld, I do sincerely wish him well as the series continues.

I particularly enjoyed the recounting of a
Nancy Brisson
How can someone so stodgy and clueless be so lovable? Talk about “tunnel vision”! Professor Dr. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, whose family crest is embellished with the hedgehog his family name honors, is the author of an obscure, but scholarly and comprehensive text called Portuguese Irregular Verbs. He is pompous, set in his ways, and puffed up with his superiority to most other creatures and especially most of his colleagues at the Institute of Romance Philology in Regensburg, Germany. Fortu ...more
I guess I should have started at the beginning of the series, but the books aren't actually numbered on the cover, so I had no idea. And I don't think it would have made a difference anyway.

Mostly the reason I read this book was because it was about a philologist. The writing style was kind of enjoyable, but I didn't really like any of the characters, and the book was really just 5 vignettes with no cohesive plot. Not something you can really lose yourself in. But nice and short!

Also, I was so c
I love this series. I read it with a German accent.
I'm sorry to say that I couldn't even force my way through Alexander McCall Smith's "Unusual Uses for Olive Oil." I got to the 50% point, but the level of embarrassment Igelfeld kept putting himself in finally reach such a pitch that I just couldn't take it. I had some hope that this book would be better than the previous three since the chapters actually seemed cohesive enough to form a story. But, the pain of reading the book finally drove me away. If you liked the previous books, this one mig ...more
For years I've been loyal to only one character of Smith's, Mma Ramotswe. I've tried his Scotland series, and it never took. I happened to pick up this one with low expectations and fell in love with the awkward, socially clumsy Professor Dr Moritz-Marai von Igelfeld. The world of Romance Philology at first glance is dry and purely academic, but Smith's telling of Igelfeld's thoughts is witty and kept me chuckling. A fun read.

I guess I'll have to go back and start with the first one.
Another funny little bedtime book. I quite like Professor Dr von Igelfeld. I think that it because I can recognise in him parts of characters who I know. I find the observations very keenly made. In this book, I particularly like the idea of a reading retreat in the mountains. Of course, with von Igelfeld, a tiny bit of authority and power goes a very long way, but as an idea, it has some merits.

Having said that, I wonder if I am turning into von Igelfeld? Irascible, quick to take offence, these
This is the 4th book in the Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld series: the adventures of a German professor of philology. He's great with language, espeically Portugese Irregular Verbs, his 1200 page opus, though clueless with people. He just doesn't get social situations & etiquette & that makes for some great comedy. If you're a fan of "The Big Bang Theory", you'll like this series. They're a lot of fun.
This is the 4th in this series & it's really just a sliver of a book in which we continue to follow our clueless professor Von Igelfeld through his varied bumbling escapades. This is my least favorite AMS series but it's still entertaining.
Once again A. M. Smith has given me a few hours of sheer delight with this latest story of the German philologists who inhabit the Institute at Regensburg. The quirkiness of the professors and the mishaps that befall Professor von Igelfeld are priceless. I loved the part that described the Reading Week in the mountains, and the almost- relationship with a widow with a distinctive surname that completely escaped the Professor. As the Professor contemplated future possibilities and big changes in ...more
Kerstin JR
As usual I really enjoyed this last installment of the series, there is only one little niggle, at one point it is said that Herr Huber has never been married, when in fact in the previous book it is mentioned that he was married and his wife ran away with a motorcyclist...
That really niggled at me.
But all in all it is an excellent book and I love the subtle humor especially since I live in Germany right now.
I have the books as well as the audio books and both narrators are good, although I do
How complex this world is, he thought; how easily may things appear to be one thing and then prove to be another. And how easy it was to see the worst in humanity when what we should really be looking for is the best. (p. 35)

...von Igelfeld was later unable to recall exactly who had started the debate. He did know, however, that it was not the Librarian, Herr Huber, whose wandering conversation was entirely reactive, and never introduced a new or challenging topic. (p. 39)

And marriage was a cha
It's been a long time since we last met Professor Dr. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, that highly distinguished author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs. In this latest installment of short stories (which is what the book truly is, though the stories do have a common thread that ties them loosely together), von Igelfeld proves that he has not, unfortunately, learned anything since we last saw him. Still as self-centered and self-righteous as before, the professor bungles his way through a variety of ...more
I listened to this on audio recently, and it was fabulous. How to describe these short books about Herr Professor Dr. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld... Do you think that academia, in addition to being a worthwhile furtherance of our knowledge as a species, can also be a great source of humor and entertainment? How about ridiculously over-the-top German professors who take themselves too seriously? If so, then this series is hilarious.

This is the fourth book in the series, and while I think it wo
Miriam Downey
View my whole blog posting here: http://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot.c...

"How complex this world is, (von Ingelfeld) thought; how easily may things appear to be one thing and then prove to be another. And how easy it was to see the worst in humanity when what we should really be looking for is the best.”

Well, folks, Professor Dr. von Ingelfeld is up to his ears in pomposity once again in the latest episode of The Portuguese Irregular Verbs series by Alexander McCall Smith. If you have not met Pr
Unusual Uses for Olive Oil is the fourth novel in the 2 Pillars of Wisdom series by Alexander McCall Smith. Once again we enter the rarefied atmosphere of the Institute of Romance Philology to see what the author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs, the always pedantic and often socially inept Professor Dr Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld is getting up to. Although he is not dissatisfied with his life, his crosses to bear are many: Herr Huber, the boring but loquacious Institute librarian; the condescensi ...more
I'm usually a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith. Apparently this book series is a lot of fun and is a hoot to read. I didn't start at the beginning, but with book 4, and many said that was the best book. Scary thought. I was quite disappointed with this book, and enjoyed only about 1/2 hour of the whole book. Don't know if I'll read more of this series or not AMS has great talents, I have read many of them and appreciate his talents.
This audiobook just could not hold my interest. I think McCall Smith writes a lot of little nuances so if one isn't paying attention, a lot of the charm of these stories is lost. I did appreciate what I did hear. It's good to know that some characters never change: Professor Von Igelfeld is still a pompous ass riding on the so-called "success" of his book Portuguese Irregular Verbs. He believes that everyone owes him, or if not owes him then should at least defer to him.

My favorite story was th
This was a completely pointless book that nevertheless ended up being very entertaining, in the way a lot of pointless things are. The main character is both unbearable and oddly lovable at the same time, and his various tame adventures were a good break from the heavy subject of WWII. I won't rush out to get all of the other books in the series, but if I should happen upon one, I'll gladly pick it up.
Oh, how I love the sweet natured escapism of Alexander McCall Smith, especially the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, about the foibles of out-of-touch-with-the-real-world academics. I've just read the fourth one, Unusual Uses for Olive Oil. Here's a sample (p.154) ...

"He paused. What exactly were the problems of the world? They were profound, he was sure, but he now realised that he had not exactly exercised himself over them during the past few years. Nor before that either. In fact, he had n
I should really have done some more research before picking up a random Alexander McCall Smith book thinking it would be a mystery. Took me about 100 pages to quit looking for the murder. Also the picture on the front rather spoils the whole question of what you do with the olive oil, and has no connection with any other part of the book. It's like he finished the book, thought "What shall I call it?" and just opened it at the last chapter. I'll try the Scotland books or something instead.
Professor von Igelfield is a German(?) professor who has written a book, Irregular Portuguese Verbs, which has not sold many copies but has brought him some fame in the world of "Philology". He could best be described as smug and stuffy but that personality gives the story its humor. Although he constantly gets himself into uncomfortable social situations he somehow is likeable--fun read.
Listened to the book on CD. I give this 4 stars for the sheer entertainment value. This is an extremely light read, poking fun at the German academia, with some high-brow references and puns. It was hilarious bordering on absurd. I will likely read another book from the series now (since this is the first one I read by this author).
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Herr Huber 1 4 Jul 24, 2014 02:47PM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Portuguese Irregular Verbs (4 books)
  • Portuguese Irregular Verbs (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #1)
  • The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #2)
  • At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #3)
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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