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The Comfort of Saturdays by Alexander McCall Smith
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Jul 14, 12

bookshelves: 2011
Read in July, 2011

Seriously? Alexander McCall Smith writes books like this and they sell? I say this as a sucker who bought a copy, albeit second-hand. I enjoyed the subtle and humorous prose of a couple books in the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series which were striking in its setting and its main character.

In "Saturdays", Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher who (for unexplained reasons) is wealthy and independent editor of an ethics journals. Dalhousie is asked to look into the affair of a well-known doctor whose reputation has been ruined as a result of a pharmaceutical scandal.

To an academic reader, all of the above sounds thoroughly interesting. You'd think I'd like the character at least. But no, Dalhousie is not marked by any particular wit or charm, and the characters around her are equally bland. There is a sense of friction with a peripheral character named Nick Smart but what is at first intriguing dissolves into nothing. There is no real discussion of the ethics of impartiality nor does the story devolve into a clash of personalities and tensions between truth and lies. It's slow and it's plodding and we meet each character once or twice once so there's little room for character development.

This novel is not a novel at all but a very mundane journal of someone whose life consists entirely of the uneventful. I can handle very well books in which nothing happen (cf. How Late It Was How Late) but not ones where nothing happens and where there is no compelling voice or character.

No more for me thanks, Mr Smith.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Dianeh In the earlier books, Isabel's wealth is explained. She got it from her parents. The house she lives in was theirs as well.


message 2: by Sun (new) - rated it 1 star

Sun Dianeh wrote: "In the earlier books, Isabel's wealth is explained. She got it from her parents. The house she lives in was theirs as well."

Fair enough. May I ask why you liked the book so much? Is it a return to characters you want to find out more about?


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