The Charming Quirks of Others

thecharmingquirksofothersAfter reading a 700 page book on Anti-Semitism, I needed to relax and read a book where I did not have to use my brain cells. So I read this book since I know from before, that these books are not heavy! Usually I like this series, because I recognise myself in Isabel Dalhousie’s thoughts. (Isabel being the main character, philosopher and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics.) I can myself “day-dream” like her or reason with myself, and forget time and place. BUT in this book, her philosophical dialogues with herself, were uninteresting.

For some reason, these books are classified as mysteries. The “mystery” in this novel was for her to find out if the three canditates for a headmaster post, at a private boys’ school, had some shady past. She did not really put any effort in to it, just drew some general conclusions about two of them, only to find out in the last chapter, that the board of directors had decided, to not go with any of the three, but keep the current headmaster. It feels like MacCall Smith wrote this book because his publisher ordered him to do so. There is no heart in it at all.

As for the frustrating relationship with Jamie, Isabel’s much younger lover and husband-to-be, it just got more vexing in this book. So not even that gave some reading pleasure. The two have independent lives, live parallell lives if you wish. Is that really love? Is it love when you don’t dare to confront someone? Is it love when you feel that you have to keep secrets from each other? These two have no problems in the bedroom, since “he has no spare flesh” and Isabel worship his looks and body, but they don’t TALK to each other except about music, poems, Scotland and their son. When Jamie goes to the cinema with a woman from his orchestra, Isabel only find out about it from her niece’s employée, Eddie. Why was handsome Jamie in the cinema with another woman? Because the woman said she is dying and she has never had a boyfriend, so could Jamie please fulfil a dying woman’s wish and have sex with her? Jamie said no, but not strong enough for my comfort! Isabel had to go and deal with the woman, since he would not! What does this say about their relationship? MacCall Smith might think he has created a nice character in Jamie. As a woman, I say that he has created a wet noodle that is just staying with Isabel because it’s comfortable and whether he loves her or not, is beside the point. He doesn’t have it in him to ever end a relationship. Both their relationship and the book are as exciting as a dead tuna. Unfortunately I have the next book as well, since I found it at a good price, so here is hoping that the author made an effort with that one. Otherwise I am going to have to say goodbye to the Sunday Philosophy Club series, just like I did with his 44, Scotland Street series. He has a tendency to just let his books wash out in the sand. Ever heard of stopping while one is at the top?


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