Monday, June 16, 2008

Alexander McCall Smith: Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
An Isabel Dalhousie novel - second in the "Sunday Philosophy Club" series.
I think of McCall Smith books as “brain candy”: sweet, delicious, easy on the brain, with a smooth aftertaste that leaves one wanting to pick up another. This series is set in Edinburgh; the main character, Isabel, a well-educated and comfortably well-off woman in her early forties, divorced, is editor of the Review of Applied Ethics (a job which provides for plenty of philosophical topics to ruminate on as she goes about her daily errands). She’s also endowed with something more than the usual sense of curiosity and need to see things through. In this story she meets a man who’s undergone a heart transplant and has been seeing uncomfortable visions; he asks her help in figuring out why this is happening. There are many interesting digressions on life after death, cellular memory, the morality of getting involved, and the relevance of age differences in romantic relationships (Isabel is rather stuck on an attractive young man fifteen years her junior). McCall Smith is a past professor of medical law and served on bioethics bodies, so he knows what he’s writing about when it comes to the medical and ethical issues – although he doesn’t allow Isabel to get weighed down or go into too much detail. There is, however, slightly more depth to this series than one finds in the series set in Botswana: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Extremely enjoyable light summer holiday reading!

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