9.21.2009

The Careful Use of Compliments- A Review


The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith is the fourth installment in the Isabel Dalhousie series. Anyone familiar with my blog knows how much I adore McCall Smith and I am thrilled to report that once again he has managed to produce a novel that was both moving and thought provoking.

Isabel is a philosopher and the editor-in-chief of The Review of Applied Ethics. She is juggling a number of complicated things in her life including a new baby, her baby daddy (for lack of a better term), being suddenly fired from her post as editor on the Review and dealing with the mysteries of an art forgery.

Alexander McCall Smith has such a masterful way of weaving his characters around philosophical plot twists. These novels are classified as "mysteries" but if anything they are more mysteries of the heart rather than traditional whodunits.

What I love the most about this series is the subtle way McCall Smith explores certain philosophical questions and very funny moral dilemmas concerning human nature... such as- should one use compliments (false compliments) to get ahead in certain necessary situations? (Hence the title). Or when one firmly believes in the power of good manners... is it OK to disregard them when met with a nemesis?

If you are new to the Isabel Dalhousie series, I suggest you start at number one, The Sunday Philosophy Club. Getting to know Isabel and Co. will feel like you are making lifelong friends and you will find yourself laughing out loud from McCall Smith's take on the nuances of human nature.

Now to catch up I have (of course) ordered the next one... The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday. Until then...

The Careful Use of Compliments can be purchased at: www.amazon.com

14 comments:

Michael Rivers said...

I have not heard of this series. I'm always looking for a new author to read. I'll have to keep this in mind!

M.Lane said...

Nice review! Did you like the PBS series from his books?

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

PS. I dont think I have a nemesis but if I do, and if I meet it/him/her ANYTHING GOES!!

Beth Dunn said...

That sounds great! xoxo

Rebecca said...

Based on your enthusiam for McCall Smith, I just picked up "The Sunday Philosophy Club." I will get to it after I finish the new Diana Gabaldon book.

Thank you again for the recommendations.(And I too like make up reviews ;)

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Michael- His most popular series is the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency which are books that I absolutely cherish. This series is lesser known but equally as fun...

M. Lane- Thanks! I have been waiting to watch the series on HBO (did they also do one for PBS?). I'm planning on buying the dvds and watching them all at once :) and Lol to the nemesis. I agree- anything goes. Manners? Out the window!

Hi Beth- Thank you for stopping by my blog. I hope you do get to read his books... they are so special.

Rebecca- I'm so glad! I will admit it took me a little while to warm up to the series (maybe because I'm such a huge fan of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and his 44 Scotland Street series- both which I highly recommend.) This series of books is quite different but once I got into them I loved them. I'd love to hear what you think.
I'd really recommend trying 44 Scotland Street and reading those books too. They take place in Scotland as well and are written in "episodic" style. And I have taken the hint on makeup reviews lol! They have not been banned. I promise to do one in the next two weeks :)

Beth Dunn said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm afraid my book is not sophisticated enough for your taste but it nice to meet you and hear your recommendations in blog land!

Dustjacket Attic said...

Good review, I feel like reading that now!

I'm a huge Agatha fan, so enjoyed your previous post on her. Also love Hitchcock's movies ... you met Tippi how exciting.

Thank you for your visit and comment today, lovely to have you over.
xoxo

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Hey there! Nice to meet you. I see we have a few friends in common (Mr. Lane and La Belette Rouge). I was secretly reading your blog during dinner with my mother in law but I couldn't comment from my phone! Am going to look into this new series.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Beth- I beg to differ! I'm sure your book is fabulous. I do not discriminate with books (chick lit / mysteries/ philosophical quandaries) as long as it moves me to tears, laughter, happiness, pensiveness or to think...I will read it.

Thank you DustJacket Attic- Your blog is so lovely... I'm glad to have found it too!

Mrs. Scoffs (or do you prefer Tessa? I noticed that M. Lane calls you Mrs.) Thank you so much. I love that you and your mother in law were reading it over dinner! I hope you like this series... I recommend with any Alexander McCall Smith series to start with the first and read them in order...

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

This is an author I still have to read. I am busy working my way through all my Minette Walters and Ruth Rendells. I always enjoy your reviews on books and they make me feel like rushing out to buy the book straight away! I have to restrain myself as I have so many at home waiting patiently. xx

Jenavira13 said...

Must add this to my winter break reading. Just saw the first episode last night of No. 1 Ladies's Detective Agency and was thoroughly charmed. It also made me miss Anthony Minghella's style.

La Belette Rouge said...

I have never read anything of his. I am addicted to the HBO series, The No.1 ladies' Detective Agency." What book do you recommend I start with?

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Belette- If you have never read anything by McCall Smith I suggest you start with the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency or 44 Scotland Street (both listed are the first books in each series). Then I would suggest starting with the Sunday Philosophy Club (which is the first book in the series I have reviewed here. My reason for recommending the other series before this one is that they are great showcases of his work while the Sunday Philosophy club is more obscure. Hope you enjoy them!

Jenavira- I have yet to see the HBO series- I am waiting to buy the dvds! xo

Sharon McPherson: AUTHOR / ARTIST said...

Very interesting. I have got to admit I have yet to read No.1 Ladies Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street, even though they usually sit on the front shelves at the book shop: I see them all the time. And I am Scottish!!! This is going to be interesting, I am definitely going to read them first. Thank you for the recommendations. :)

Thank you too for your inspiring and encouraging comments on my blog :)

 
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