Jo Bennie's Reviews > The Careful Use of Compliments

The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith
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Feb 01, 12

Read in December, 2011

When Isabel Dalhousie receives an auction catalogue she spots a painting by an author that she has another painting by, and who has been dead for 10 years. Whilst dealing with the emotional fallout from learning she has been ousted as editor of the Journal of Applied Ethics, and getting used to life with a new baby, she bids for the painting. She is outbid, but then approached by the winning bidder and begins to wonder about the painting and its artist. On the one hand, this is the best plot of an Isabel Dalhousie story so far, I love the gentle mystery about a painting, that a possible forgery can be a window into something far sadder and more humane. However, Isabel's new baby son Charlie is unnaturally good, I don't remember new motherhood ever being as benign, but then maybe she is just lucky!
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