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The Charming Quirks of Others

(Isabel Dalhousie #7)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,053 ratings  ·  607 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 answe
Paperback, Large Print, 400 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Random House Large Print (first published 2010)
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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,053 ratings  ·  607 reviews

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Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
I'm growing to hate Isabel Dalhousie. If I knew her in real life I would avoid her at all costs. But I keep reading these books and I can't say why. The main plots limp along at soap opera pacing and every book is basically the same:

Isabel insecure in relationship, spends lots of time fretting and thinking about how kind and beautiful Jamie is.

Isabel worries about her niece's latest boyfriend and grills Jamie about his feelings for Cat.

Isabel spends lots of time thinking about how terribly busy
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I admit it--I'm an Alexander McCall-Smith addict! I've read everything he's written thus far, and eagerly await each new volume. His wisdom about human nature is acute--this volume has a couple of wonderful quotes about love: "We do not need to look for reasons for love. It is simply there; it comes upon us without invitation, without reason sometimes; it surprises us when we are least expecting it, when we think that our hearts are closed or that we are not ready, or we imagine that it will nev ...more
I enjoy this series, but it's not total love like I feel for his The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I like this series at 3-4am when I wake up sometimes and don't fall right back to sleep. It won't keep you on the edge of your seat, but the characters and conversation are interesting enough to keep your mind busy until the sandman comes back.

Definitely will continue with the series, and I would like to finish all of his other series as well. But right now, it's nice to know I have so ma
Sep 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Alexander McCall Smith sometimes puts his main characters in peril they don't, in the end, suffer: leaving the reader feeling happy and content and that all in right in the world! Alexander McCall Smith's writes kindly and humane books which are an antidote to all the crime fiction I read!

As this is the 7th book in the Isabel Dalhousie series, I could barely keep my interest in Isabel as all the moral dilemmas that a middle-class lady in Edinburgh can plausibly encounter has been exhaus
Graeme Roberts
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I just love Isabel Dalhousie and her philosophical meanderings, despite the flaws of the series, which become more obvious with each book. When will Jamie (Isabel's beloved) and Cat (Isabel's niece and Jamie's former girlfriend) be more than two dimensional. Cat hasn't been allowed to grow, despite her increasing experience of men, who are mostly unsuitable. Perhaps too much about complete love and total immersion in each other, but I guess that I need to understand if that exists.

This book lame
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-scotland
This is such a sweet series that I feel guilty for not liking it better. If I were the heroine, Isabel Dalhousie, I would now spend several pages on the nature of guilt, why everybody is guilty, why I should or should not feel guilty...It's gotten so I find Isabel one of the most irritating characters in current fiction, so maybe I'll just give up on her. In this book, she's asked to find out which of three candidates for a job has something questionable in his past. She spends most of her time, ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
I vacillate in my opinion of the Isabel Dalhousie character between finding her rather sweet and charming and finding her insufferaable and irritating. This entry in the series has to be placed in the latter category.

The story here is that a school is looking for a new headmaster and has narrowed its list of candidates down to three, but an anonymous letter has been received indicating something scandalous in the background of one of three. Unfortunately, the letter doesn't say which one. Isabel
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I love the Isabel series, so getting a new installment is a treat. This one does not disappoint; although the problem Isabel is called to solve is a bit thin, her interpersonal relationships are as vibrant as ever.
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010

The first one of this series I can truly say I just didn't like. The end almost redeemed the book, but Isabel is just not her level-headed self, and jumps to outrageous conclusions based on hunches. Very unsatisfactory.
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This author can be relied on to provide a good read, and this is no exception. I think I just skipped over most of the books in this series (the Isabel Dalhousie novels), but it doesn't really matter, I'd still enjoy all the ones I haven't read, even if I have jumped to the most recent book. While I have read his novels in the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series as soon as I could get my hands on them, I have been saving the Isabel Dalhousie series for a rainy day. That is, when the sad d ...more
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Isabel's thought after a brief hug from her son Charlie, "That was the lot of the mother of sons; one embraced and held them, but even in their tenderness they were struggling to get away, and would."

OK, that sentence isn't particularly relevant to the book. It's just one of the many Isabel Dalhousie thoughts that I found myself going back and reading again. As the mother of sons I found it poignant, especially those last two words "and would".

I don't really read these books for the mystery, but
Jo Bennie
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: m, s
This Isabel Dalhousie novel was still charming and thoughtful, just not as gripping as some of the others. Isabel is asked to vet three candidates for the headship of a nearby boarding school, feeling obliged she takes it on and finds the affair complicated by one of them being her neice Cat's new boyfriend. Juggling life with baby Charlie, partner Jamie, plans for weddings, work for the Review of Applied Ethics and the machinations of her nemesis Christopher Dove, this is a low key reflection o ...more
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Another lovely installment in a series which deals not with big, flashy crimes, but with more intimate, low-key mysteries of life. Much of the action is quiet, and there is lots of talking and thinking, and that's just fine by me. As always, I am impressed by the author's clear affection of the people and the place in which the story is set (Edinburgh in this case, Botswana in the case of his other well-known series), as well as his obviously deep respect and admiration for women.
I feel better a
Oct 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was somewhat disappointed by the latest Dalhousie novel. It wasn't as engaging as usual and the storyline is wearing thin. Not the Jamie/Isabel storyline, but the actual mystery she is asked to solve. I am hoping the next novel will be more lively and embedded in a solid story.

I agree with one of the other reviewers that her persisting anguish and insecurity with regard to Jamie's reasons for being attracted to her is starting to become slightly annoying, though understandable. It makes her s
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it
3.99 stars. A lovely use of my leisure time. I enjoy spending time in Isabel's head. And I am sure I would enjoy visiting Scotland. But as described here, lordy, these Scots are a tongue-tied bunch. Makes me realize I am happy to be an oversharing American. Once I laughed out loud which is not an experience I expect to have while reading these books. Unfortunately I can't remember what prompted the laughter.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Винаги може да се разчита на Александър Макол Смит да те разведри с неговите приятни и малко наивни истории за живота на Изабел Далхаузи. Толкова е хубав този свят, в който дори шокиращите и заплетени мистерии намират съвсем обикновено обяснение и животът продължава своя спокоен и приятен ход.
Alison C
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Charming Quirks of Others, by Alexander McCall Smith, is the seventh in his Isabel Dalhousie series, and once again finds Isabel ruminating about a variety of ethical and philosophical dilemmas. This time, she has been asked to look into the backgrounds of three men who are short-listed as possible replacements for a headmaster at a private boys' school, after the head of the board of directors of the school receives an anonymous letter suggesting that there are unsavory secrets hidden in on ...more
Mary Margaret
I love the gentle writing of AMS, and the kindness and deep desire to do the right thing of his protagonists, especially Isabel Dalhousie. This book was a step too far for me though, possibly because it's the 4th I've read in the past few weeks. Each book follows the same set of themes (and AMS clearly has serious issues about women mothering boys), and I'm increasingly finding it improbable that Isabel could be so clear in applying moral philosophy to her life, but yet be so inept at any sort o ...more
Catherine  Mustread
I find Alexander McCall Smith's novels entertaining and quick reads, yet somewhat condescending, sometimes annoying and not very satisfying. I will rank AMS high on the storytelling ability scale and perhaps that's what draws me back to his series.

This seventh book in the Isabel Dalhousie/Sunday Philosophy Club series finds more tension than usual between Jamie and Isabel and the (remote) possibility that their relationship might be in trouble. Isabel manages to sleuth out the primary cause of
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
As always, Alexander McCall Smith offers his readers a pleasing confection. This book, the seventh in his Isabel Dalhousie series, is shelved in the mystery section of my public library, even though calling these books mysteries is a real stretch. What's most enjoyable about this series are the frequent internal monologues wherein Isabel meditates on whatever is going on around her or in her own mind. Inevitably she criticizes herself and her own thoughts, even though we know that she is pretty ...more
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Finished books 1-7 in this engaging series- as always, with AMcS, you get interesting and delightful characters. Isabel Dalhousie is the editor of the Journal of Applied Ethics and her musings on right and wrong are a thoughtful diversion from the stories at hand- solving 'cases', her niece Cat, her romance with Jamie, her little boy, Charlie (dressed in his McPherson rompers!) Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, they brought back wonderful memories of the two years we lived in this most amazing country ...more
Doug Cooper
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
It took me the better part of an afternoon/evening to read this. A quick, yet satisfying book for a lazy day. I've stuck with the Isabel Dalhousie series and I've come to realize that the point of the story is never the main dilemma that Isabel has to solve. It's always about her foibles, misgivings and thoughts. I identify with her because I have a tendency to over-think Everything and I tend to daydream (albeit when no one else is around to interact with). In the end of Charming Quirks she tel ...more
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I loved this book, which is wise, wry, and downright funny. There is some morose contemplation, but also little gems of observation: "People felt the need to come from somewhere, even if it was a long time ago and they were not sure exactly whre it was and when. Blood links, she thought, was what it was about. However tenuous such links were, people regarded them as standing between themselves and the void of human impermanence."

In her usual style, Isabel also drifts off on many flights of fanc
Nadia Cavagliere
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would very much like to be like Isabel Dalhousie- sure of what is morally right and wrong, with a peaceful, well-constructed life. Mr. McCall Smith truly captures the nuances of being a 40-year old philosopher, established on the path of motherhood, with a relationship with a younger man. Everything about her world is elegant- from her home to her thoughts, even to her occasional bouts of angst. Her most charming quirk is her inability to help herself from solving the dilemmas of others. Sort ...more
Mary Helene
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: series
Charmingly written, a comfort book which leads one gently to reflect on several topics, one of which is forgiveness. "There are so many grudges we can hold against the pst and for the love and approval that we did not get from it. But if we forgive, then the past can lost its power to hurt." (p.134). But less you think that Pollyanna had a hand in writing this, Mr. Smith also writes "then it is because somewhere within ourselves we have an outrageous part: a dark twin in whose mind thoughts of i ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this particular installment in Isabel Dalhousie's life. It was charming and fun. I do so enjoy Isabel's (i.e. the author's) way of thinking. I also appreciate that the author has made a 'real' character who has faults and who occasionally gets mired down and stuck in her way of thinking about things.
Gwen the Librarian
Not my favorite in the series, but still cozy and philosophical.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
McCall Smith has perfected the birdwalk, making it an integral part of his novels, especially in the Isabel Dalhousie series. It is an important way to know the characters' thoughts, beliefs and hear their discussions, often seemingly unrelated to the plot. However, they turn out to have significant bearing on the decisions and actions of the principal characters. Always enjoyable and thought-provoking, Isabel is one of my favorite people in fiction!
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A pleasure to listen to on RB Digital. Very slim plot centers around Isabel investigating 3 candidates for headmaster position at Edinburgh boys school and a young musician trying to take Jamie away from Isabel by telling him she has a terminal illness. But always, it is just the little stories and musings of Isabel that make these books an enjoyable experience.
Patsy Collins
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Delightful - as are all the books I've read in this series.
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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

Other books in the series

Isabel Dalhousie (1 - 10 of 12 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 Forgotten Affairs of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie, #8)
  • The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (Isabel Dalhousie, #9)
  • The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie, #10)
  • A Distant View of Everything (Isabel Dalhousie #11)
“One of the drawbacks to being a philosopher was that you became aware of what you should not do, and” 0 likes
“He shows the most amazing brass neck,” she said.” 0 likes
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