The Forgotten Affairs of Youth
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The Forgotten Affairs of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie #8)

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  2,471 ratings  ·  384 reviews
In this eighth installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s captivating Isabel Dalhousie series, our irrepressible heroine tries to untangle complex questions about both the past and the present.

Isabel’s new friend Jane Cooper, a visiting Australian philosopher who was adopted as a small child, has come to Edinburgh searching for information about her biological father. Natural...more
Paperback, 245 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Little, Brown (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sandi
Am in the midst of this book! I read McCall Smith for pure pleasure. It is refreshing to pick up a book and know that you really don't have F=to pick it apart!
Finished it; loved it; calm except for Cat who was, once again, choosing incorrectly from mushrooms to men.
Jan Rice
Alexander McCall Smith spent part of his childhood in Botswana. That's how he came to write the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. When it became a runaway success he was a law professor -- in Edinburgh, I think. He became a literary phenomenon, turning out free-standing books, books for children, and several other series, including the Isabel Dalhousie books. The latter were at first called the "Sunday Philosophy Club," an idea that never actually developed. He's also done a lecture season...more
Marianne
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth is the 8th of the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. As always, Isabel’s life is full: she has articles to read for the Review of Applied Ethics, an instance of nepotism by Professor Lettuce to deal with, decisions to make about rising journal production costs, and 2½ year-old Charlie has started swearing. Learning of her niece, Cat’s latest liaison and wondering how many boyfriends is too many, Isabel mulls over her own forgotten affairs of youth:...more
Jane
I love Isabel Dalhousie, loyal citizen of Edinburgh, philospher, owner and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. I admire her philosophy summed up in this quote: "...she would never accept things as they were. That was what made her do what she did--practice philosophy--and what made her, and everyone else who thought about the world and its unkindnesses, do battle for understanding, for sympathy, for love; in small ways, perhaps, but ways that cumulatively made a difference."

Isabel can turn t...more
Sandy Michalka
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth by Alexander McCall Smith
This review is the second of three reviews of books that seem to me go together. Part A is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder and Part C is Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. And they are connected in my mind by their interesting, enlightening and unique explorations of the fundamental questions at the center of life. They each show how their children motivate people to confront previously unexplored concepts of morality a...more
P.V. LeForge
Three or four books after I’d decided I’d had enough of Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabelle Dalousie series (and read them anyway), The Forgotten Affairs of Youth came out. What a surprise to find that, except maybe for the first volume, it is the best of the lot. Let me go back for a minute.

The first of the Isabelle Dalhousie series was entitled The Sunday Philosophy Club. In it, McCall Smith set up the idea that Isabelle would have kind of an ongoing reading club with others who enjoyed philosop...more
Karen
This is the second book in the Isabel series I've read -- I can't remember any details from the first one, which is telling. I'm not sure why I read to the end of this book, since I ultimately found it to be very boring, but I'm glad I did, because it got better toward the end. My biggest complaint about this book is that I found Isabel to be incredibly irritating, self-righteous, and self-absorbed. I also didn't really believe in her -- her musings, particularly about sex and romance, have the...more
Dlhmoore
This is the 8th book in the Isabel Dalhousie series. It is my least favorite. I was disappointed in the wandering of thoughts in Isabel's mind. Though she is a philosopher I felt the thoughts went too far afield for the scenes. It happened too many times and I got the feeling that the author was simply trying to fill the space. I really got bored with the musings.

There was too little interaction between Isabel and Jamie, and though they married at the end of the book and the wedding pages evoked...more
Ruth
I love Isabel Dalhousie but it has been a while since I have read A Sunday Philosophy Club novel and I found this book a little more drawn out than McCall Smith's earlier books in the series. I did enjoy the read but didn't find it as humorous and the pace was a little slow.
Ruth
Big sigh of relief that this was back up to AMS' usual standard.

Read & reviewed for The Bookbag.
http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/i...
Marfita
I've been following Isabel and her adventures in Edinburgh with delight. Nothing much really happens, but you see things through her eyes - always trying to stick to her own ethics and not always succeeding. This trip into her life has her helping a fellow philosopher from Australia find her Scottish roots. Jane was a child of an unmarried college student whose parents (this was the early 60s) made her give up the child for adoption to a couple about to emigrate.
Jane's birth mother died in a ca...more
Knitme23
I read this Isabel Dalhousie at a bad time (poor Isabel): way too busy with school and holiday stuff, fighting off a stubborn, low key, but obnoxious cold, and intermingled with a few other books that are faster-moving than she ever is. For all those reasons, I didn't find this Isabel outstanding: too little, too slow, too much philosophy, too few points of human interest. My preoccupations aside, the book read as if McCall Smith ripped through writing it so he could get on to something else, an...more
Gene
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth is a refreshing story told from a unique perspective. The main character, Isabel, a philosopher, shares her complex and sometimes rambling thoughts as she progresses through the daily challenges of life. She is so real and so human that sometimes it felt as if parts of the book were lifted from my own thoughts and experiences.

Isabel confronts common situations with tact and integrity such as dealing with her child learning foul words from another child, maintaining...more
Ray
I like Alexander McCall Smith. I haven't been able to get into all of his series but I like this one and the Number One Ladies.

However, after maybe 4 or 5 Isabel Dalhousie's maybe it's over?

The conceit of the series is that Isabel is a professional philosopher. She therefore thinks that her way of experiencing the world is more complicated than it is for non-philosophers. From the purchase of cheese to the revelation of a secret to returning a phone call, every choice is fraught with various mor...more
Ina
Reading one of the Isabel Dalhousie books is like visiting an old and dear friend. Just for a few days, I am taken away to Edinburgh and enjoying walks around town, visits to the deli owned by Isabel's niece, Cat, and sipping cups of tea in the warm, toasty kitchen. Each book is time to catch up. Isabel is an extremely likable character; she is smart, thoughtful, and has a rather exacting moral compass; she is full of common sense and filled with love for her family and country. Even though this...more
Momo
Alexander McCall Smith's books remain favorite "cozy" reads, but this eighth installment in his "Sunday Philosophy Club" series, was the least satisfying of the Isabel Dalhousie books. Still here are the wonderful, small observations about life and relationships, the finely tuned writing, and the comfortable--meant in the best sense possible--characters, but the story was so lacking in plot and suspense, even by the easy standards of McCall Smith's "mysteries." The difficulties Dalhousie faces a...more
Nancy
A charming and more satisfying story than the last two previous book in this series, with a nice balance of philosophical thought and human interaction. So, although this feels more 3.5 on my personal scale, I will call it a 4, compared to the last book.

Once again, this is not a mystery but it is another little human puzzle with several little side stories and nice characters. Grace was not very prominent in this book and her situation offhandedly resolved. Cat is still an issue though, but she...more
Donna
Reading these books reminds me of talking to my son, Dan, another philosopher. You start talking to him about one thing and then he kind of gets this blank stare as his mind goes on down many tangents until you are back to talking about "justice" or "ethics" again. I understand how Isabel's friends feel.

I enjoy these books; though they are gentle reads, they are not always easy reads. And Isabel is, as often before, caught several times in having to live up to her ethical high standards or find...more
Jamie
This series has always walked a narrow path between cozy and boring, and this one takes an occasional step off in the direction of boring. It’s three parts philosophical musing to one part plot.

I still like the characters and the setting, and I still get a little thrill from the calm, reflective joie de vivre in Smith’s books. Isabel has an enviable life, which she knows and deeply appreciates.

Concerning the relationship between Isabel and Jamie: (view spoiler)...more
Libby
This book feels darker than previous novels in this series, and perhaps it's because the world has gotten darker--e.g., Grace's decision to invest her life savings in a stock that Isabel made a killing on because of Grace's recommendation via her spiritualist group, then losing it all when the stock tanks mimics events happening in the real world. There is a feeling of foreboding that permeates the novel--it's not as cozy as its predecessors, but it does leave this reader anxious to read the nex...more
Dot
Another Isobel Dalhousie novel set in Edinburgh. The author is very prolific and I'm thinking perhaps enough is enough. This chapter in the Dalhousie series feels like just more of the same, and I am getting tired of the main character's habit of applying her philosophy to every situation she encounters. The early books were so good and I really enjoyed the discussions of morality and ethics so it is rather disappointing to find that this one is less engaging than the others. However, it is sti...more
Lauri
Sweet little book, as usual!
Lynetta
I've always wondered how other people think, a question, of course, impossible to answer. Alexander McCall Smith does his best to explain how (Dr.) Isabel Dalhousie's mind works. She edits a philosophy journal, and at times her train of thought is a bit deeper than I care about. In one conversation (p 206) Isabel wonders if it would be less complicated to run a delicatessen, "To order cheese and salamis and all the rest and not worry about what we should do and how we should do it?" Actually, in...more
Kristine Morris
I do love Isabel Dalhousie. I think I've said this before but how I'd like to live her idyllic life. Her thoughts seem to mirror so many of my own. McCall Smith has an uncanny ability to articulate the common place philosophy in which we all dabble. For example, he writes (talking as Isabel):

So you're like most of us today. I have misgivings about people not having a spiritual life. It's so.....so shallow. I sometimes think that life without a spiritual dimension must be like being made of cardb...more
Josiah
Philosopher Isabel Dalhousie of Edinburgh has sworn off meddling in other people's affairs when a visiting scholar, Jane of Australia, begs her help. Jane's mother bore her out-of-wedlock and was forced to give Jane up for adoption. Now Jane wants to meet her mother's friends and track down her boyfriend. Along the way, Isabel gets into scrapes with her niece, Cat, and decides on a date with fiance Jamie.

This is the first of the Dalhousie stories I've read, and I'm not sure how to rate it. The...more
Rebecca
Scottish philsopher Isabel Dalhousie lives in Edinburgh with her younger fiance Jamie, and their two-year-old son Charlie. Isabel often finds herself involved in the affairs of others due to what she terms "moral proximity," and this time she's helping an adopted Australian philosopher born in Scotland try to trace her birth parents. In addition, she's dealing with yet another attack on her leadership of the Review of Applied Ethics by the devious and despicable Professor Lettice, this time thro...more
Elizabeth
This was such a painful book to read. Now that I've finished it, I wonder how I ever was able to plough through. The only actual ineresting thing is the little cultural and social observations and descriptions, delivered with McCall Smith's usual clever charm. Unfortunately, however (as all that sounds quite good), by this 8th book, Isabel Dalhousie really annoys me.

What an irksome character! Perhaps, because of McCall Smith' writing, I feel as though she is real and completely to blame for her...more
Marilyn
This is the eighth book in the Isabel Dalhousie series and the first book I have read by Alexander McCall Smith. I loved this cozy mystery. This book was able to stand alone for a good read. I loved the protagonist, the inquisitive Philosopher by trade and heart. Her mind is constantly moving with flotsam and jetsom and one never knows when and where her mind will lead her at any given moment. I was reminded of a large party I attended, many years ago, in which half the attendees were local gove...more
Babs
I’ve loved and admired this series for a while. So thoughtful, so erudite, and so much more philosophical (of course) than most books that this was a joy and wonder to read. That being said, for some reason, I was vaguely disappointed with this book. I hate saying this, since I feel I should have a better handle on my feelings and thoughts and should be better able to express myself, but for some reason, I can’t seem to be able to clearly define why I am disappointed by this book at this time.

I...more
Ivonne Rovira
Alexander McCall Smith's novels featuring Isabel Dalhousie are exercises in ethics. What is a true parent? Must one give a warning to someone who one knows won't take it anyway, a warning that might stave off a great deal of pain? What is paramount, the desires of blood kin or civic duty? Is there karma? What is love, and can obsession be love or love obsessive? Are sins less venal when committed by the easily led than by those who had the will to resist? The mystery in The Forgotten Affairs of...more
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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...
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“..."Charming people, when not actively shooting one another," a friend had once said, which was so unkind, but, like so many unkind comments, had a grain of truth in it. They did shoot one another and had been doing so for centuries. They did bicker over and brood on long-dead history--or history that should be long dead. The problem with history was that it refused to lie down and die.” 2 likes
“He seemed genuinely astonished. "You admire me?"

"Yes," she said gravely. "All of us do things we regret--that's part of being human. And sometimes, I think, moral quality reveals itself not so much in what we do, but in what we later say about what we have done....”
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