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Unusual Uses for Olive Oil (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #4)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,688 Ratings  ·  287 Reviews

Life is so unfair, and it sends many things to try Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs and pillar of the Institute of Romance Philology in the proud Bavarian city of Regensburg.

There is the undeserved rise of his rival (and owner of a one-legged dachshund), Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer; the interminable ramblings of the librarian, Her

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Anchor (first published October 1st 2011)
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Bill Yes it can be read alone but I think it better to read the first three books in this series. These can also be read as one volume 'The 2 Pillars of…moreYes it can be read alone but I think it better to read the first three books in this series. These can also be read as one volume 'The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom' which provides an interesting insight into the series characters.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jason Koivu
Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: comedy, fiction, humor
After a near ten-year hiatus, the long-awaited (well, by me at any rate) fourth book in Alexander McCall Smith's comedic Portuguese Irregular Verbs series finally arrived!

I enjoyed the heck out of book number one. Then the following two became a little Candide-like or Monty Python-esque in their wackiness as our hero Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld became embroiled in far flung adventures. This fourth book, Unusual Uses for Olive Oil is a return to the sedate wordsmithing of the first bo
Harry Maier
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld returns in this fourth intallment of a seriously ironic take on German academic culture. Here's a good question: if Herr Prof Dr Dr honoris causa multi von Igelfeld wife's name is Frau Prof Dr Dr hcm Mortiz-Maria von Igelfeld, what happens when the same Frau becomes herself Prof Dr Dr hcm? She is Frau Prof Dr Dr hcm Herr Prof Dr Dr hcm von Igelfeld. I have often asked myself this question. Being a Prof Dr who lives and works and Germany myself, I found this an ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
I was surprised to see this book appear at our library since it has been nearly a decade since the original trilogy appeared. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith may or may not enjoy this series. It is a very quirky, in fact, off-the-wall zany humor. It is not everyone's cup of tea (or, ahem, stein of beer), but if you're a fan, rejoice. This book holds the same sort of tongue-in-cheek- fun of the original books. Others reviewers have noted that you may not want to start the series with this book. It ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I imagine most fans of AMS are most familiar with his #1 Ladies Detective Agency Series and I have enjoyed those too. But my favorite series is this one(I would give the series 4 stars) Portuguese Irregular Verbs and its academic protagonist Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld and his colleagues at the University of Regensburg's Institute Of Romance Philology. AMS 's subtle humor and gentle spoofing of academia makes me laugh out loud (the complicated issue of the formal title of a wife with ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is very funny, with the deadpan style of the author's other series, The Ladies #1 Detective Agency. I laughed, and I needed to laugh.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
After several years' hiatus, Alexander McCall Smith's Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld series returns, and the professor of romance languages and author of the colossal tome, "Portuguese Irregular Verbs," is as full of himself and naive as ever...and von Igelfeld fans wouldn't want him any other way. As with the previous volumes, McCall Smith creates a character who is much like most of us: someone who wants to believe (and wants others to as well) in his importance and worth, someone who wan ...more
Adrienne Kiser
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has been my favorite book thus far in the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series; Professor Dr von Igelfeld is more of a sympathetic figure while still managing to do absolutely everything wrong. He reflects on every misstep and continues to reach the same conclusion (it's not me, it's you) but by the end of the book has a realization that he might not actually be happy.

Poor Professor Dr von Igelfeld, I do sincerely wish him well as the series continues.

I particularly enjoyed the recounting of a
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Back to reality for von Igelfeld - it seems a long time ago since he got himself embroiled in political shenanigans in warmer climes in his last outing. Now he is back to the world of academic egos and his terminal case of "not quite getting it" This slim volume contains a series of episodes - the possibility of romance with Frau Benz (and this proves that whilst maddening, he remains underneath it an appealing character because I did feel sorry for him when he blew it completely with a typical ...more
May 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Pretty hilarious book , especially given the fact its about German professors
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
I didn't realize this was part of a series when I picked it up, but it didn't matter! The wonderfully pompous Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld is the author of "Portuguese Irregular Verbs," and as you can imagine, it's not a best-seller. When his collegue receives an honor for writing a sub-par book that should have gone to HIM, the injustice can not be overlooked. As the professor thinks only of himself, his antics reminded me of Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory"--No one is as smart as h ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Funny, tongue in cheek, but I kept reading thinking it would get better. The olive oil in title is at the end of the book when the lead character spills olive oil on the dachshund, whose trolley he was trying to oil, during a dinner party.
Nancy Brisson
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
How can someone so stodgy and clueless be so lovable? Talk about “tunnel vision”! Professor Dr. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, whose family crest is embellished with the hedgehog his family name honors, is the author of an obscure, but scholarly and comprehensive text called Portuguese Irregular Verbs. He is pompous, set in his ways, and puffed up with his superiority to most other creatures and especially most of his colleagues at the Institute of Romance Philology in Regensburg, Germany. Fortu ...more
Maria Thermann
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The problem with all of Alexander McCall Smith's writings is that they are so addictive! After reading the first chapter of pretty much anything the good man writes, I want to go out and get the next book in the series, so I can be sure to fuel my addiction without going cold turkey for more than a minute!

The delightful Professor Doctor von Igelfeld series is set in my own country, Germany, always an unusual choice for an English-language writer. Although the unlikely hero of the piece, Professo
Bivisyani Questibrilia
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was purchased thanks to a huge sale going on at my local bookstore. Although it is actually the fourth book to the von Igelfeld series, I've never read any of the previous books. That aside, this book was still very easy to enjoy. I'm familiar with McCall Smith's work in the Isabel Dalhousie series so this was a rather different approach to the literary world: hilarious, entertaining and light. Von Igelfeld as the main character is quite fitting to the whole story as he finds himself i ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I guess I should have started at the beginning of the series, but the books aren't actually numbered on the cover, so I had no idea. And I don't think it would have made a difference anyway.

Mostly the reason I read this book was because it was about a philologist. The writing style was kind of enjoyable, but I didn't really like any of the characters, and the book was really just 5 vignettes with no cohesive plot. Not something you can really lose yourself in. But nice and short!

Also, I was so c
John Frankham
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humorous-fiction
The fourth book featuring Prof von Igelfeld, the famous author of the 900 page block-buster Portuguese Irregular Verbs. Well-meaning he is, but lacking insight and understanding of his academic rivals, and, actually, everyone else. On a date with the widowed Frau Benz, his diatribe against a certain make of car is not helpful, and he also 'bumps into' once more the dachshund which, due to his best intentions, now propels itself on one leg and three wheels. Delightful and humane as always, with a ...more
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: at-home, my-abcs
This is the 4th book in the Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld series: the adventures of a German professor of philology. He's great with language, espeically Portugese Irregular Verbs, his 1200 page opus, though clueless with people. He just doesn't get social situations & etiquette & that makes for some great comedy. If you're a fan of "The Big Bang Theory", you'll like this series. They're a lot of fun.
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For years I've been loyal to only one character of Smith's, Mma Ramotswe. I've tried his Scotland series, and it never took. I happened to pick up this one with low expectations and fell in love with the awkward, socially clumsy Professor Dr Moritz-Marai von Igelfeld. The world of Romance Philology at first glance is dry and purely academic, but Smith's telling of Igelfeld's thoughts is witty and kept me chuckling. A fun read.

I guess I'll have to go back and start with the first one.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the 4th in this series & it's really just a sliver of a book in which we continue to follow our clueless professor Von Igelfeld through his varied bumbling escapades. This is my least favorite AMS series but it's still entertaining.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Although I love almost everything by Alexander McCall Smith, this book seemed like an indulgence. It was worth a few chuckles but not worthy of an entire book.
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love this series. I read it with a German accent.
Massimo  Gioffre
Witty humor for important scholars. Since I'm not a scholar I didn't have much fun.
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
These really grew on me.
I thought after the disappointing third installment that von Igelfeld was destined to remain a trilogy, but McCall Smith comes back after nearly a decade with the best one yet!
The addition of The Librarian, Herr Huber, is very welcome indeed.
And the brief (thankfully) segment on defenestration was chuckle-worthy. I'm just glad I suffered through the horrible chapter on the same subject in "The Bertie Project" before I read this.
Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Entertaining; however, I didn't realize that this was a continuation of a series (#4 in fact) although that explains some of the context that I didn't understand at the beginning of the book. Yet, it reminded me a bit of Inspector Clouseau.
Jo Marchant
This was an unusual read and I struggled with the names a little and the whole concept of the book. It was not an easy read but it was a funny one in lots of places, a very funny one but not easy to always follow.
May 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
This series should have been no more than two book.s. The last two provided only very intermittent chuckles, wheres the first two were very amusing.
Marie Greaney
Jun 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
I'm giving up on this one. It's just not doing it for me. Maybe I had to read the previous ones in the series first?
Basia Korzeniowska
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Not his best at all, though some reminders of a Diary of a Nobody.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
How complex this world is, he thought; how easily may things appear to be one thing and then prove to be another. And how easy it was to see the worst in humanity when what we should really be looking for is the best. (p. 35)

...von Igelfeld was later unable to recall exactly who had started the debate. He did know, however, that it was not the Librarian, Herr Huber, whose wandering conversation was entirely reactive, and never introduced a new or challenging topic. (p. 39)

And marriage was a cha
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Herr Huber 1 7 Jul 24, 2014 02:47PM  
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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)
  • At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #3)

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