Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Charming Quirks of Others by Alexander McCall Smith

In The Charming Quirks of Others, Isabel Dalhousie, moral philosopher and editor/owner of the quarterly journal, Review of applied Ethics, is asked to investigate, with discretion of course, three candidates for the job of headmaster at a boys' school. The school received a letter hinting that one of the candidates shouldn't be hired. However, it failed to state which one. As Isabel looks into their lives and backgrounds, she finds out some amazing things about the three candidates, herself, and others around her.

This is the seventh book in the Isabel Dalhousie series, but the first one I've read. I enjoyed it immensely. Alexander or should I say Sandy, the name he goes by, creates the most wonderful stories filled with terrific characters. This one is no exception. It's less about the story, though, and more about the characters.

Even though this book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone book. I didn't feel like I was missing any crucial background information to explain anything in this book. Having said that, I really want to go back and read the other now because this one was so good.

By the way, the 9th book in the series is already out in hardcover. According to his website, there's also an eBook original story featuring Isabel.

Speaking of Isabel, I just loved her. She can go off on a tangent like no other person or character I know, then somehow make her way back to the subject at hand. It's quite extraordinary. Since this was the first book I read, I had a little trouble figuring out her age, until her husband, Jamie and small son, Charlie came onto the scene. I especially loved her ponderings on moral philosophy, It's funny, I dropped out of 1st year philosophy in university because it was a snooze-fest. Yet, it was the philosophical bits in this book that I found the most intriguing.

New words:
solecisms (page 15): A grammatical mistake in speech or writing
platitudinous (page 56): dull or tiresome
mendacious (page 110): lying
prurient (page 127): Having an excessive interest in sexual matters
approbation (page 196): approval
syllogistically (page 211): an argument or form of reasoning in which two statements or premises are made and a logical conclusion is drawn
clype (page 235): tattle-tale

I've read a few of his other books and enjoyed each one. He's written so many books, though, that I'm afraid at this point, I'm never going to catch up. Honestly, he can write faster than I can read. I haven't written reviews for all of the books I've read, but here are two that I loved: Corduroy Mansions and La's Orchestra Saves the World. I'd highly recommend them both.

Highly recommended. If you've read and enjoyed any of his other books, I'm sure you'll like this one, too. I have lots of his other books on my bookshelf that I intend to day.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit Alexander McCall Smith's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

The Charming Quirks of Others by Alexander McCall Smith, Vintage Canada (Random House Canada), ©2011. ISBN 9780307399571(Trade paperback), 256p.


  1. I tried book 1 of this series and couldn't get into it, but you have encouraged me to try again. I've had Corduroy Mansions on my list for ages also. Sounds like I should move it up.

    1. Yep, his stories are character driven. I had a little trouble at first because I was waiting for some action. I loved Isabel so much that after while I forgot about that.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I read the first book in this series years ago and liked it. He is such a prolific and talented writer yet I haven't gone back. Must change that.

    1. I agree that he's talented. I was reading the other day that his stories come out mostly fully formed so he doesn't spend a lot of time on rewrites. He doesn't show any signs of slowing down, so his fans are going to have lots to read. ;)


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