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The Forgotten Affairs of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie #8)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,793 Ratings  ·  478 Reviews

In this latest installment of the beloved Isabel Dalhousie series, our inquisitive heroine helps a new friend discover the identity of her father.

Isabel and her fiancé know who they are and where they come from. But not everybody is so fortunate. Jane Cooper, a visiting Australian philosopher on sabbatical in Edinburgh, has more questions than answers. Adopted at birth, Ja

Hardcover, 261 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2011)
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Nov 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
Isabel Dalhousie is sanctimonious bitch!

She is condescending to her housekeeper.

She slut shames her niece.

She is a snob about her so-called work which she never seems to do.

She thinks her 2 year old son is a food snob because he likes olives, sardines and gherkins.

She justifies her buttinksky behavior by thinking she has the power to make other people happy.

She ponders how lucky and happy she is and assumes those who were not blessed with a trust fund and good education lead lives of quiet despe
Jan Rice
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 2 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: t ...more
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Marilyn Clement
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
P.V. LeForge
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sandy Michalka
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Leila T.
Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Apparently I'm re-reading this book now, but since I don't remember reading it the first time and i didn't review it, here are some 2014 thoughts:

Casual racism within the first few pages. Repeated once or twice elsewhere in the book.

Tedious and not-interesting philosophizing.

One long yawn re: relationship between Isabel and Jaime.

Unrealistic depiction of a two-year-old, who is remarkably absent from his parents' lives/the book.

Caricatures of lesser, potentially more interesting characters.

Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Big sigh of relief that this was back up to AMS' usual standard.

Read & reviewed for The Bookbag.
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fluff
While this is not my favourite McCall-Smith series, I found this book started off well. I enjoy Isabel Dalhousie's philosophical comments and the humour they bring to situations. Unfortunately the book ran out of steam from the middle to the end and left the reader with a flat feeling.

There is not much convincing to be done with a review of the 8th book in a series. Alexander McCall Smith is my literary palate cleanser -- and boy did I need one after a doozy of a previous read -- and with a trip to Isabel's hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland in my near future (never woulda thunk that when I started this series so many years ago!) it seemed no better time to pick up this next book in the series.

Alas, not much new to report and that's just the way I think fans of this series like
Dec 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gentle-reads
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
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I always hold a special place in my heart for Isabel Dalhousie. A woman who combines being a mother, lover, write and philosopher with grace and appeal. She constantly questions her own ideas and those of the people around her in the most civil way possible. This particular book focuses on a young woman looking for her long lost parents, another one of Cat's sticky affairs and Lettuce once again making an appearance. Warm, beautiful and moving, I will always love to read another book in this ser ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Feb 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Goodness. I don't even know what to say about this book other than I see no point in continuing to read it. Nothing happens. A woman loves her husband, adores her son, has more money than she knows what to do with and rambles through her live randomly bumping into people while apparently not doing any work at all.

Some books are worth the read because the author uses prose so beautiful that you read it just for the pure pleasure of it. This is not one of these books. It's also not one I'll finish
Jamie Collins
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)
A pleasant read. Not sure what the relevance was though, of the little spiritualist-inspired windfall and Grace's subsequent financial loss. It sort of petered out. I like this series, but Isabel seems to be too comfortable playing God in others' lives and it is becoming disturbing. I think Smith needs to throw a wrench in the works in his next installment, lest Isabel become too self-satisfied to be worth reading. My sympathies are slowly moving more toward Cat.
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cozy
Still loving this series. Book 8 sees Isabel confident in her relationship with Jamie (love the ending!) and enjoying motherhood. Love the surprise about Lettuce, can't wait to see what he'll do when she nips his plagiarism in the bud. The title sleuthing adventure is well done, bittersweet and very very Isabel. Hoping there is a book 9.
Genine Franklin-Clark
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I wouldn't have thought I would love a series more than McCall Smith's Ladies' #1 Detective Agency, but this series is one I do love more. I would never have thought I would be so enamoured of a series with a Scottish woman phoilosopher as the main character. This is smart, gentle, hardheaded, thoughtful, amusing ... everything one could ask and more.
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love the Isabel Dalhousie Series -- she's always very proper & gets involved in civilized mysteries, which come out very neatly. Following the connections in her mind, is always entertaining. These are not meaty books, but a fun light read.
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: about-uk
A perfect end-of-year book. This series is perfect to enjoy with a cup of hot tea in chilly winter weather. I love Isabel's profound (yet tangential) musings as she goes about her daily life.
Sep 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Sweet little book, as usual!
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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 11 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 Lost Art of Gratitude (Isabel Dalhousie, #6)
  • The Charming Quirks of Others (Isabel Dalhousie, #7)
  • The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (Isabel Dalhousie, #9)
  • The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie, #10)
  • A Distant View of Everything (Isabel Dalhousie #11)
“..."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.” 3 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....”
More quotes…