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The Lost Art of Gratitude (Isabel Dalhousie #6)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  5,119 Ratings  ·  495 Reviews


Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective.  Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction’s most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answer
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Anchor (first published 2009)
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Oct 28, 2009 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read the previous books in this series, I found this book to be somewhat less enjoyable than prior books in the series. I still enjoyed the visit but found the story-line with Minty and the non-resolution of ***spoiler*** lying, forgery, threats etc. to be less than satisfactory. Isabel's philosophy may allow her to feel that she has done/said the right thing, but that was essentially nothing. You know that Edmund Burke saying "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good me ...more
Richard Derus
Oct 26, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After all, what can one say about life that hasn't been said before? Jamie, Isabel, Grace, the aptly named Cat, and young Charlie are here presented for our quiet pleasure, going about their lives and moving through their entirely real world. The characters are deeply enmeshed in the pleasure centers of a certain type of reader, the one who smiles fondly at Ellen Glasgow or Elizabeth Goudge books when they emerge, raining the slight wisps of dust that neglect engenders, from a long shelf-slumber ...more
Dec 01, 2009 Bee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
There is a comfortable familiarity in the Isabel Dalhousie series, which always reminds me of Seinfeld and its 'show about nothing'. Because really, these books are NOT plot-heavy and sort of gently ramble their way through a series of not very exciting events and end in a mild, sputtering anti-climax. Don't get me wrong -- I love Isabel, Jamie, Charlie, Grace, Cat (sort of...), Eddie, etc., but these tend to be the books about nothing.

I don't know if I'm getting mildly bored or if this one wasn
Dec 10, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I truly enjoy Isabel Dalhousie's philosophical tangents. There are those, I'm sure, for whom they are supremely annoying and all they want is for her to shut up and get back to the story at hand. But I love the weight she gives to questions of ethics and morality that so many of us skip by blithely, completely ignorant that there is even a question to be addressed. And I love that those questions distract her from the conversation or activity right in front of her. It draws such a picture of the ...more
Anne Hawn Smith
This is my favorite book of all Alexander McCall Smith's and it is for one huge reason...the poem at the end. While the book is very entertaining and Isabel has numerous situations which cause her to work through various moral dilemmas; her insecurities about Jamie, what to do with the obnoxious Professor Dove, and especially the possibly amoral Minty Auchterlonie, the book is always more about then people than the plot. Minty approaches Isabel to help her resolve two connected issues and Isabel ...more
Elizabeth Lee
While I still love the way McCall Smith writes, I love the characters in this series, and I love the setting, I didn't find this most recent installment to be of the same caliber as the first 3 or 4.

Part of the problem is that while the main character is always pondering ethical issues (which makes sense, as she is the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, and considers herself to be a moral philosopher), things got almost a tad preachy in this book.

It seems to me that usually, it's just the
Amanda Patterson
Reading about Isabel Dalhousie and her family is a bit like dropping in on old friends to catch up on the latest news.
Charlie, Isabel and Jamie’s son, is eighteen months old. When he is invited to a birthday party, Isabel meets Minty Auchterlonie, a financier she encountered as the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. Minty confesses that she is troubled at work. Isabel never found Minty agreeable. However, Isabel, true to form, finds that she can’t help becoming involved. Isabel is as charm
Oct 27, 2009 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've had Alexander McCall Smith on my list of authors to read for a long time.
He is quite good. I jumped in with the
sixth book in a series on a female philosopher in Edinburgh (home of Smith). Isobel is a thoughtful, kind woman and mother of an 18-month-old son.
It was as much philosophizing as story,
but the story itself was realistic and
interesting. I'll certainly be ready to
read more -- from the beginning. Quotes
(as always): Oscar Wilde gazing in dismay at the decorations surrounding his deathb
Feb 14, 2013 Chazzle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like this series. And it's nice to have a series that "just works", like a doughnut stick and milk; or a hot fudge sundae. Comfort food, comfort reading.

But this installment in the series is shortchanged by being termed merely "comfort reading". Yes, the flow of the writing style is very pleasant, but it's more than that. Isabel Dalhousie's musings on ethics, with her education as a doctorate in philosophy, lulls the reader, perhaps intentionally, into a sense that she's just being "aca
Beth Bonini
Mar 29, 2016 Beth Bonini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
The Isabel Dalhousie books adhere to a pretty tight formula, and after reading six of them in quick succession that is all too obvious. There is the slow unfolding of Isabel's personal life: comprised of Jamie (a musician 14 years her junior, also her partner and the father of her child), Charlie (her 18 month old son), Grace (her implacable housekeeper) and Cat (her difficult niece, who has a different boyfriend in every book). There is the business of philosophy, not only as it relates to Isab ...more
Jun 20, 2013 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borrowed this review from "Mary" because it says everything I've been thinking about this series:
This series is starting to grow on me. I've been confused because, although they're catalogued as mysteries, they're very gentle mysteries, having more to do with the eternal puzzle of why humans (Scottish ones, mostly) behave as they do. Isabel Dalhousie can't restrain herself from getting to the bottom of philosophical conundrums. In this particular episode, trouble in the form of a previous Nemesi
This book was shelved with the mysteries but it is not a mystery. Nothing happens. There is no plot, no character development, in that the characters as presented in the first chapter are completely unchanged throughout the book. There is no action or adventure. The vocabulary is not outstanding; the authors thoughts are not thought-provoking; the style is mundane.

There is some weak humor as when the lead character "imagined herself in the street, dabbing disinfectant on passers-by, as a religi
Mar 05, 2013 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This series is starting to grow on me. I've been confused because, although they're catalogued as mysteries, they're very gentle mysteries, having more to do with the eternal puzzle of why humans (Scottish ones, mostly) behave as they do. Isabel Dalhousie can't restrain herself from getting to the bottom of philosophical conundrums. In this particular episode, trouble in the form of a previous Nemesis (the wonderfully named Minty Auchterlonie) comes looking for her. As always, the "mystery" part ...more
Nov 09, 2009 Marlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I love the Isabel Dalhousie books! For those who are not familiar with her, Isabel is an Edinburgh-based philosopher (editor of The Review of Applied Ethics) with a toddler named Charlie, whose father is her much-younger paramour Jamie. Isabel also has a reputation for sleuthing, though there are those who call it interfering.

Early in this narrative, she runs into an old acquaintance, Minty Auchterlonie, who has a son about the same age as Charlie. Though Isabel has never thought of Minty as a f
Dec 04, 2016 Alarie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second reading from the Dalhousie series. I think I’m safe to say that each book is charming on its own, yet I’ll likely not read too many of them. I tire of the repetitious backtracking to remind me who characters are once I know them. (Also why I only read about three of the author’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books.) For now, this is light holiday reading in lieu of B or C list holiday movies.

I do love Isabel Dalhousie. I also love that McCall Smith creates strong, female prot
Jan 23, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I read a McCall Smith novel. It was a nice change of pace, what I call a "rambling mystery." Smith takes his time, accounting for mundane, daily tasks, small details, like cooking dinner or the view from a restaurant window.
This volume of the Isabel Dalhousie Novels begins with an accusation from Professor Dove, that pompous, self-important thorn in Isabel's side. Soon after, we are reacquainted with Minty Act... I can never spell her name. The gal from the first book of
Mar 25, 2016 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, la-2, mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Camilla Tilly
I loved the book. Nothing really major happens but it's through and through cozy. Once again, Isabel Dalhousie gets problems with two schemers from the past that once tried to get her fired from being an editor of the philosophy magazine she so much loves. That time she bought the magazine and fired the two instead. This time she has to be really sly and fight them with the same weapons they try to use against her and/or by using their weaknesses. Everything always sorts itself out in these book ...more
May 05, 2012 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Lost Art of Gratitude is the 6th novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. In this instalment, Isabel has to deal with an accusation by Christopher Dove of plagiarism in the Review of Applied Ethics, has to break the news of her engagement to Jamie to her prickly niece, Cat, is coerced into mediating with the father of Minty Auchterlonie’s baby, meets Cat’s new boyfriend (a tightrope walker), engages a professional to capture Brother Fox and has lunch (a salad) with Pro ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Jenine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fox episode put this one over to 4 stars for me. Each Isabel D book I have read has had some passage wherein she imagines what she would do if she were a fictional character and then re-asserts that no, she is real and not fictional. I haven't liked these passages because they draw attention to my act of reading the thoughts of fictional characters. They make explicit what I am happy to leave hidden behind the scrim of my suspension of disbelief. But this book did not contain that sort of pa ...more
Bonnie Callahan
Jul 15, 2016 Bonnie Callahan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm in the midst of reading the whole Isabel Dalhousie series and they are all really wonderful little cozy books. I tend to read 2 books at once. One will be a more serious book or a classic and the second will be a lighter book or a beach read. Alexander McCall Smith has never failed me. I started with his "First Ladies Detective Agency" and have been hooked every since. The "Isabel Dalhousie" series of books are just simply sweet detective stories with great little details of life in Edinburg ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Roya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I keep returning to this series because it is like visiting with an old, comfortable friend who I like in spite of her quirks. None of the books have much of a plot and I was about 25% into this one before a plot started to emerge. I can't help comparing Isabel Dalhousie with Mma Ramotswe and wonder how Mma Ramotswe would handle the situations Isabel finds herself in. I would love for them to meet each other.

It finally dawned on me that I need to stop thinking of this series as light mysteries
Ken Vaughan
Nov 16, 2009 Ken Vaughan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feel-good-reads
This is the 7th in McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel, Jamie and their son Charlie have settled into a comfortable domestic routine. They reluctantly accept an invitation from an acquaintance, Minty Auchterlonie, to attend her son’s birthday party. Isabel is drawn into Minty’s secretive dealings with a young man with whom she had an affair, and who is the father of her son. Meanwhile, Isabel is embroiled in a controversy over plagiarism in the journal she edits, the Review of Applied ...more
Nov 16, 2010 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not a "murder" mystery, but there are certainly mysteries to be solved an Isabel can't help getting involved. Meeting up with Minty Auchterlonie again, after a few years, leads Isabel on a twisted journey. Isabel is moral philosopher and Minty gives her plenty of moral dilemma's to ponder. In the end, while Isabel feels she has handled Minty well, I found the resolution a bit less satisfying. While Minty is called on her misdeeds, she really doesn't pay for them.

It was enjoyable, though to catc
Sep 11, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith creates these wonderful characters, that essentially have rather agreeable lives. I think of all his characters, Isabelle leads the most charmed life. She is intelligent, well-educated, and well-to-do. She has a handsome, sensitive and younger fiance, who has fathered her beautiful and well-behaved son. And she enjoys her job.

All in all there is simply no angst, nor traumas and nary a crisis on the horizon. But despite the lacks these things, Alexander crafts a beautiful s
Aug 08, 2016 Lynda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second time to read McCall Smith's "The Lost Art of Gratitude". There is just something in following Isabel Dalhousie's life; her calling as a philosopher; her doctorate in philosophy; an editor; a mother; a lover; an aunt, etc. The scenes float between the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the country side and between individuals from her past and present lives. Isabel is managing the best she can between all of her relationships and the many hats she wears. She is also drawn back int ...more
Mary Helene
Nov 07, 2009 Mary Helene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's Alexander McCall Smith theory of literature (or - why write? why read?) "Perhaps that was what adults really wanted, searched for and rarely found: a simple story in which good triumphs against cynicism and did not publicize the fact too widely, certainly not in sophisticated circles. Such circles wanted complexity, dysfunction and irony: there was no room for joy, celebration or pathos. But where was the fun in that?... We want resolution and and ending that show us that t ...more
Karlyne Landrum
Apr 17, 2010 Karlyne Landrum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most thought-provoking portion of this book is the idea of someone being "wicked". It made me wonder if we ever really believe in the wickedness of those we bump up against, or are we careful and perhaps too charitable as Susie is when she is searching for the word that Peter quickly supplies for her --"Wicked", he says. When someone is completely self-centered and has no compassion or even interest in anyone else (except as a being that can be used for their own ends), what are they but wic ...more
Nov 05, 2009 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, fiction, audio
Alexander McCall Smith is awfully special. I am continually amazed that there is so much of life in his calm stories, that there is so much for us to ruminate about and apply to our own lives. In this series, and in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency McCall Smith channels older women. Perhaps they are unreal, as some readers have pointed out--I certainly can make a claim that his male characters don't seem quite fleshed out in the American sense. That is, I have never met men like Jaime, say, or ...more
May 01, 2013 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*not* knowing that this book was a part of a series, I thought the storyline rambled a bit for much of the book. However, I can see that if you had previous emotional attachments to the characters, it would have been more engaging.

What helped my enjoyment of the book immensely was that I listened to an audiobook version of it, and the fantastic Irish accent helped bring the book to life quite a bit. It felt much more like listening in to someone recounting a story of their past month, and less l
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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
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Other Books in the Series

Isabel Dalhousie (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie, #1)
  • Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie, #2)
  • The Right Attitude to Rain (Isabel Dalhousie, #3)
  • The Careful Use of Compliments (Isabel Dalhousie, #4)
  • The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday (Isabel Dalhousie, #5)
  • The Charming Quirks of Others (Isabel Dalhousie, #7)
  • The Forgotten Affairs Of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie, #8)
  • The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (Isabel Dalhousie, #9)
  • The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie, #10)
  • At the Reunion Buffet (Isabel Dalhousie, #10.5) (Isabel Dalhousie Novels)

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“Myth could be as sustaining as reality - sometimes even more so.” 7 likes
“Moral beauty existed as clearly as any other form of beauty and perhaps that was where we could find the God who was so vividly, and sometimes bizarrely, described in our noisy religious explanations. It was an intriguing thought, as it meant that a concert could be a spiritual experience, a secular painting a religious icon, a beguiling face a passing angel.” 3 likes
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