The Right Attitude to Rain (2006) is the third novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series, following Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. In the previous volume, Isabel spent a bit of time thinking of Auden and Brother Fox. With a little help from Jamie, she tracked down the donor of Ian's heart. And she brought about a sense of resolution between a father and his late son.
In this novel, Isabel is concerned about her interventions into others's affairs. Several people, particularly Jamie, have chided her for going over the line into nosiness. However, she has convenient excuses for noticing a foreign couple park their car in a clearly marked no-parking zone and for following them into the Scottish Gallery. As it happens, she is destined to encounter this couple often during the next few weeks.
Speaking of intervening, Isabel is looking for an apartment for Grace, her housekeeper. Isabel's father has asked Isabel to take care of Grace and she has decided that this request means that she should provide a place for Grace to live. Isabel asks Jamie to go with her to inspect an apartment close to his home.
Isabel immediately takes a liking to the seller, Florence Macreadie, and Florence seems to like Isabel. Florence also seems to approve of Jamie. Florence has inherited a house in Trinity from her aunt and must leave her long-time residence. Yet she is not enjoying the flood of nosy viewers who have come into her home.
Cat has another boyfriend, Patrick, and Isabel is determined to hold back her opinions of the man. Isabel is told about Patrick by Eddie, Cat's only employee, who seems to approve of him. Isabel soon learns that Patrick is dominated by his mother, whom she knows slightly, but she virtuously refrains from mentioning her growing doubts on the relationship to Cat.
Isabel has houseguests during the summer. Cousin Mimi McKnight and her husband Joe have fled the Dallas heat and are visiting Isabel for a few weeks before moving on to a house in Oxford. They are seldom within the house during the daylight hours. Joe is researching the history of adoption in the libraries and Mimi is haunting bookstores to find works by Arthur Waley.
In this story, Isabel spends too much time thinking about the morals of various subjects innocently introduced by various acquaintances. She is personally concerned about her relationship with Jamie. Of course, Jamie loves Cat, but her niece has spurned all his advances. Now Isabel is free to wonder about her own feelings for the much younger -- fourteen years -- and very good looking man.
Naturally, the Review of Applied Ethics takes up some of her time and lots of her mentality. She has a young professor on her editorial board who asks many questions. Another member of the editorial board submits an incoherent article on "The Ethics of Tactical Voting" that requires extensive editing. At least it gives her some outlet for her obsessive cogitations.
This story is more personal than the previous novels, with few elements of a mystery story. Actually, the author has always dealt more with the daily mental life of Isabel Dalhousie than with her investigations into illegal acts. There are some improper activities occurring in this novel, but they are almost irrelevant to the main plot.
Highly recommended to McCall Smith fans and to anyone else who enjoys tales of a highly intelligent woman with independent means and a rather old-fashioned approach to life and romance.