Reading Challenges

March 14, 2011

Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie Novels

Some of you may remember my initial post about Alexander McCall Smith's creation, the philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, a nosy yet ethical Scotswoman whose inquisitive nature lands her in many a sticky situation, but normally results in a positive outcome. Recently, I've completed the third and forth books in the series, The Right Attitude to Rain and The Careful Use of Compliments. The former concentrates on myriad developments in Isabel's personal life as opposed to the mysteries we've grown accustomed to in the first two books. Fortunately, the latter sees us return once again to the successful formula that places our heroine's professional and private life on equal footing. In The Careful Use of Compiments questions related to honesty, authenticity and the use of money are raised, encapsulated in the cozy Scottish environment of Edinburgh and Jura (a coastal island), providing the perfect backdrops for an art history-themed mystery. Fans of Isabel's romantic life won't be disappointed either, there's plenty to read about regarding her newest family addition and young love. 

Isabel, as usual, handles her quirky lifestyle with aplomb as she tenaciously attempts to track down an artist who is forging profitable masterpieces by a deceased renown Scottish painter, but are the works truly forgeries? If people are happy with a painting they've bought, should the fact that it's a forgery make any difference? What is a painting's true worth? You may find yourself contemplating these questions alongside Edinburgh's favorite busybody moral philosopher...

The author has an excellent website HERE

Alexander McCall Smith discusses The Careful Use of Compliments:


  1. Thank you for reassuring me--I recently read The Right Attitude to Rain-- and although I enjoyed it, found it listing a bit to the personal side of Isabel's life---and perhaps not as strong as its predecessors because of this. I look forward to reading the next in the series---the art history mystery sounds right up my alley!

  2. Yes, you will like the forth book. It has a good mood and really recaptures the same feel of mystery found in the first book, "The Sunday Philosopher's Club".


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