Monday, July 16, 2012

A Review of 'Friends, Lovers, Chocolate' by Alexander McCall Smith

"In this delightful new addition to Alexander McCall Smith's bestselling detective series, the irrepressible Isabel Dalhousie gets caught up in a highly unusual affair of the heart.

When Isabel is asked to cover for vacationing Cat at her delicatessen, she meets a man with a most interesting problem.  He recently had a heart transplant and is haunted by memories of events that never happened to him.  The situation piques her insatiable curiosity: Could the memories be connected with the donor's demise?

That makes for some particularly tricky problems-- both practical and philosophical-- for Isabel to unravel in this enormously engaging and highly unusual mystery."

'Highly unusual' would be a nearly perfect description for this book.  I wasn't anticipating anything that came my way, mostly because I've read very basic detective novels where the main character had their hearts set on being a detective or an investigator of some sort instead of merely interested in why something was happening as Isabel Dalhousie is.

This book is for my Irish and Scottish Literature class, which, incidentally, I have yet to start.  I don't move into the dorms for another month and a half and classes start on September 5.  I'm happy to say that this book makes me very excited for this class!

Things started out pretty slowly in this book, but gradually picked up the pace after getting to know the characters (or perhaps getting reacquainted with them since this is the second book in a series of two).

I loved how so much of this book was bound in philosophy.  Not necessarily classical philosophy (as far as I remember, no character quoted Socrates or any of those other well-known names), but just asking a lot of questions and thinking about the situation at hand in philosophical terms.

A nice change in this book is that it was humorous compared to the previous books that I've been reading which have tended to be more dark and serious.  So while 'Friends, Lovers, Chocolate' has its own dark and serious moments, there were more times where I couldn't hold back a laugh because of something Isabel said or because of a most unexpected conversation between a couple of characters.  Mr. McCall Smith has discovered a beautiful balance of thoughtfulness and humor!

The characters are quite nice too.  McCall Smith did a nice job of making sure every character had their own voice.  In other words, no two characters acted or sounded alike.  Each had different thoughts, were quirky in some ways, and their professions were diverse, which was very neat for me.  While it happens, I don't think all of one's friends need to have the same profession as you.  The conversations are a lot more interesting if one branches out more, I've discovered.

'Friends, Lovers, Chocolate' is a very interesting philosophical mystery that will appeal to book clubs, Irish and Scottish Literature classes, and those who just love to think and laugh.  One day, I will read 'The Sunday Philosophy Club' so that I might have read all of the Isabel Dalhousie books.  She's very charming!

I give 'Friends, Lovers, Chocolate':
Thanks for Reading!


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