The Charming Quirks of Others
. Alexander McCall Smith
Once again, in this seventh Scottish novel by the AMS, we are invited into the small, ordinary, thoughtful lives of Isabel Dalhousie’s circle of family and friends. Her private investigation, however, explores issues that are actually of enormous importance : love, friendship, self awareness, ambition, forgiveness and morality. It is a delightful book that ponders everyday life, with our actions and consequences of our actions, intended or otherwise. The characters take time with their lives, reminding us to do so with ours. Indeed, reading these stories is often a break/holiday from our overextended realities!
All of AMSs books have an expectation and anticipation of well written stories, concerning individuals who matter to us. I always read them for details of life in Edinburgh (one of my home cities), Scotland in general, as well as character development. So many fascinating details of the Edinburgh I know, each book in the Dalhousie series is like going home for a week, right back to my neighbourhood. The books all tend to make me homesick, with the sights, sounds, smells, inquisitiveness of active minds. You call them busybodies, I call them good company. They are a familiar set of friends now. I have booked my plane ticket back already. He so clearly understands the charming quirks of human nature, while writing a satisfying, insightful, intelligent, and fun story.
As always there is no sense of time for me (how much has passed since the last book, where are they in their lives, why aren’t they married yet?) Some of it seems a bit farfetched, although I am truly aware that truth is stranger than fiction. So little of the brutal side of Edinburgh life is ever evinced. But then there are readers who only like Quintine Jardine, instead of Ian Rankin. Edinburgh is currently the City of Literature, and has a glorious literary past (and obviously present and future).