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At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #3)

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3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,082 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews
In At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, Professor Dr. von Igelfeld gets caught up in a nasty case of academic intrigue while on sabbatical at Cambridge. When he returns to Regensburg he is confronted with the thrilling news that someone from a foreign embassy has actually checked his masterwork, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, out of the Institute’s Library. As a result, he ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Anchor Books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Koivu
Sep 28, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy, fiction, humor
Reduced indeed!

This short series by Alexander McCall Smith following the missteps of Dr. von Igelfeld, the well-intentioned but misguided professor of romantic philology, slightly degrades from book to book. I loved Portuguese Irregular Verbs, but the following two books weren't up to scratch. They were close in quality, but lacked the witty essence of the first.

The problem with At the Villa… is that it goes over the top more than the previous two. The ridiculous situations are more Three Stoog
...more
Chris
Apr 30, 2013 Chris rated it it was ok
There's nothing particularly wrong with this book; it's just that there's nothing particularly right with it either. There are two completely unrelated stories about the German professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld. In the first, he takes a sabbatical to Cambridge University, where he is completely flummoxed by British customs. He is dragged into a totally silly plot among the other academics that turns into absolutely nothing. In the second, he is quite proud to receive an honor from a university ...more
Kitti
May 05, 2009 Kitti rated it really liked it
Delightful. I laughed out loud many times throughout the book. This is the continuing story of the professor; this life and times. If there ends up being another book in this series I will definitely be reading it (or listening).

This is another one that I totally recommend on audiobook. The reader has just the right balance of gravitas and humor.
June Louise
"'I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back in Germany. Cambridge is a fine place, but you know the probelem'......'Yes,' said von Igelfeld. 'Everything is so irrational in that country. And the people, quite frankly, are utterly eccentric. You have to analyse their smallest pronouncements to work out what they mean. If it is bad weather they will say things like 'Charming weather we are having!''And yet the weather isn't charming,' said Unterholzer. 'Why then do they say that it's charming?' ...more
Maria Martinez
Jan 04, 2016 Maria Martinez rated it liked it
This was a short book divided in two parts. I skipped over most of the first part which focused on the nasty academic intrigue around Professor Dr. von Igelfeld while he is on sabbatical at Cambridge. I focused on the second part of the book which takes place at the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. Here we are confronted with kind of an insane world when Dr. Igelfeld goes to Bogota, Colombia to be honored by someone from a foreign embassy who has actually checked his masterwork, "Portuguese Irreg ...more
Lydia
Jan 05, 2015 Lydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy
I read the first book in this series, “Portuguese Irregular Verbs,” found it quite amusing and so wanted to read another in the series. My second foray was “At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances” which I listened to via a CD audio book. This book is good, but I preferred the first in the series.
“At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances” contains two stories loosely tied together by the common thread of the book’s hero, Professor Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, traveling to another country for sch
...more
astaliegurec
Alexander McCall Smith should be congratulated for getting "At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances" published. Unlike the previous two books where the "story" was fairly pointless, with this book, the "story" reads like an LSD dream. I fully expected Herr Professor Dr von Igelfeld to suddenly awaken and express his thankfulness for still being in Germany. Alas, it was not to be. The story is what the story appears to be. OK. That out the way, on to a bit more detail. Whereas the first book in the ...more
Praveen Narayanan
Sep 23, 2014 Praveen Narayanan rated it really liked it
Alexander McCall Smith
I would rate all the books from the Prof. von Igelfeld 'Entertainment' series as excellent, although it is only fair that some are more excellent than others. This could be a subjective matter, a sort of multivariate problem with several things coming into the picture. Prof. Dr. McCall Smith (apologies if other titles, honorifics and so forth were omitted, which I will reason away by invoking the ignorance directive) has created a slightly more piquant piece here than usual
...more
Jessica
Jan 21, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
I really really enjoyed all these books--fun, made you laugh, and quick reads. I like Alexander McCall Smith because he has a way of writing (convincingly) from the point of view of people from either Germany, as in this book, to Botswana to Scotland. He's brilliant. Although as Taryn says, he does better when writing from a woman's point of view.
Judy
The audio version was delightful, like all of Alexandre McCall Smith's books. However, this was a little slow until the Professor goes to Columbia. Also, it seems like the characters are beginning to sound more like one another. I could swear I heard Mme Ramotswe and Isobel Dalhoughsie phrases in his speech. Could I be hearing things? Hmmm
Sarah
Aug 25, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
This wasn't my favorite book in the series. It was amusing to think of the ridiculous situations the main character got himself into, and nice to see the perspective it afforded him at the end. I think I had a harder time getting into it because of all the setting changes and it didn't seem very realistic.
Ed
Jan 31, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, humor
#3 in the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series. The further adventures of Prof Doctor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, the world's leading scholar on Portuguese verbs, in the third of three series entries published in 2003. An extremely humorous series by author Alexander McCall Smith, better known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs series - recorded - Prof von Igelfeld continues his adventures with a stint as a lecturer on a cruise ship during which he is reported lo
...more
Jenny Karraker
Mar 01, 2014 Jenny Karraker rated it it was amazing
Again, I had to laugh at the further adventures of Professor von Igelfeld. It seems he keeps wondering into places where membership into an exclusive society has been extended to himself and not others, but he uses his influence to get them in. He ends up in Columbia, South America kidnapped by terrorists, but is able to extract himself by recommending the leader (who has been rejected membership into this society) into the group. The delight this drug-dealing thug displays on hearing of his mem ...more
Andrea
Aug 01, 2009 Andrea rated it it was ok
Another fun read - although wholly unbelievable this time around. One particular piece struck me in the book: the Master at Cambridge rises to give a toast to his fellow colleagues - who are often "at odds" - and it is quite startlingly moving.

"There are amongst us still those who would deny to others the right to hold a different understanding of the fundamental issues of our time...we see people of one culture or belief still at odds with their human neighbors who are of a different culture o
...more
Skyring
May 16, 2011 Skyring rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed it thoroughly, listening to the sometimes incomprehensible, sometimes alarming adventures of the good Professor.

McCall Smith has a delightful way of writing. His gentle humour, his philosophical reflections, above all, his insights into the everyday minor moral dilemmas of ordinary people, are a constant joy. Shakespeare or Austen are worthy comparisons here - he sees to the heart of humanity in all his characters. Even when he does not spell out their motivations and actions, we
...more
Brenna
Jun 13, 2009 Brenna rated it liked it
Midway through the first of two short-stories in At The Villa of Reduced Circumstances, one might be led to believe that Professor Dr von Igelfeld is a wholly unpleasant man.

“On Being Light Blue” portrays a stoic German professor, taking sabbatical in England, making unspoken judgments of those surrounding him. None of them, he feels, live up to the standards set by man within der faterland. In fact, von Igelfeld comes across as a humourless boor incapable of discerning irony from statement of
...more
Rebecca
Jan 26, 2011 Rebecca rated it liked it
This third book in the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series is a bit fomulaic, but like McCall Smith's other novels I've read, the formula manages to sustain the reader's interest despite the outcome of the plot being mostly predictable. I also read the three books back-to-back, which could explain why I got a little tired of the structure by the middle of book 3. They might be best read a bit further apart.

The characterization of Professor Dr. von Ingelfeld continues to be spot-on in this book. Fo
...more
Mark
Sep 12, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
Gentle but intelligent satire of the academic world. Settings are first the fictional Institute of Romance Philology in Germany, then a fictional college at Cambridge (England), then the villa of the title in Colombia, where Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld has been invited to become an honorary member of the banana republic's elite Academy of Letters. A. McCall Smith's understated wit and clever dialogue make almost credible the both mundane and absurd situations von Igelfeld, author of the ...more
Tim Owens
Mar 07, 2016 Tim Owens rated it really liked it
Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of the Institute of Romance Philology is off on two more adventures. The first involves a visit to Cambridge on a sabbatical and the second is a trip to Columbia to receive the Distinguished Corresponding Fellowship Award from the Columbian Academy of Letters for his book on Portuguese Irregular Verbs. As usual the professor has his head in the clouds over his own importance and is still out to seek the approval he feels he is due.
Joel Mitchell
Jan 16, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general
The arrogant, socially awkward philology professor, Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, is back for two more adventures: one at Cambridge and one in Columbia. This book is every bit as good as the first two in the series. Dr. von Igelfeld's ridiculously high opinion of himself and the importance of his field coupled with his great fear of committing a faux pas combine to create a wonderful character who has pointless but amusing adventures.
Donna
Apr 30, 2013 Donna rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the first two Precious Ramotswe mysteries by Smith, and of course I am a huge Hugh Laurie fan, so I jumped at the chance to listen to this short series about an eccentric linguistic scholar, Dr. Moritz von Igelfeld.

This is not so much a novel as a series of short stories from the life of said scholar, and some of them were a bit funny, but most were not good enough to hold my interest. I found Igelfeld to be irritating and sanctimonious. Writing this review a year later, it is
...more
Julieann
typical of this series - the "hero" is very ego-centric and as a result, very naïve. In this book Herr Doctor Professor von Igelfeld goes to Bogata to receive an academic honor - to be made a Distinguished Corresponding Fellow of The Columbian Academy of Letters. He has adventures, of course, but can afford to be generous to the revolutionaries, government officials and colleagues.
Duane Bowker
Aug 22, 2015 Duane Bowker rated it liked it
Third in the very silly Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, Professor von Igelfeld goes to Cambridge University as a visiting scholar where he has much trouble grasping the British sense of humor. He then travels to South America to receive an academic honor, is caught up in a bloodless revolution and, to his own great surprise, is named President when the government collapses.
Megan
Feb 25, 2008 Megan rated it liked it
I enjoy most of this author's books, in particular the Numer 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books as well as the Sunday Philosophy Club series. His pace is slow and makes you feel like nothing is happening, but his descriptions of the characters, male or female, are thorough.

The main character in this series is a German professor of Portuguese whose claim to fame is a book he wrote on irregular verbs. He feels this gives him cache amongst his peers and is always internally fighting for respect. This
...more
Mark
Oct 23, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
This third book in the Professor von Igelfeld series is quirky, funny and even silly, but charming in its style and exquisite language. There are two separate short stories in this volume, one set at Cambridge in England and the other in Colombia. In both, Professor von Igelfeld finds himself in ridiculous situations, where his overblown sense of his self-importance prevails. I thought it was not as fresh as the previous two volumes, perhaps because the expansion of the character is limited. The ...more
Sherie Brown
Mar 22, 2016 Sherie Brown rated it really liked it
Shelves: academia, german
A humorous wrap-up to the trilogy about brilliant (but clueless) Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria Von Igelfeld. This time he somehow turns a trip to accept an obscure literary award into a brief presidency of a South American country. Not quite as many laugh-out-loud moments as the sausage dog volume.
Kenneth
The centennial of WW1 is in August and I have been reading about the stupidity that led to the war and the terrible conduct of the war that cost so much in blood and treasure not to mention the fall of three empires. This novella was a welcome change. It is witty, whimsical and thoroughly enjoyable.
Judy
Feb 22, 2016 Judy rated it did not like it
I could not finish this book. This is very rare for me. I didn't realize it was third in a series, so maybe I would have done better to read the first one, but I'm not going to give the author a chance. Sorry. Academic in-fighting can be fun, but I'm just not in the mood for it.
Mark Speed
Jun 23, 2014 Mark Speed rated it really liked it
Just as the author really got going with his protagonist and his colleagues, the series ended. McCall Smith had a funny relationship with this series. Or it might have been that his publisher wanted him to concentrate on something more commercial. I'd welcome another in the series.
Angela Boord
May 28, 2014 Angela Boord rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A gentle, funny little novel about politics in academia, the difference between Germans and the English, language, and hope. I'll probably be looking for books #1 and #2 in the series.

(On the Ambleside Online Year 12 free reading list)
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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)
  • Unusual Uses for Olive Oil (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #4)

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