The Right Attitude to Rain Audio Cassette – Sep 1 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
The third novel featuring well-to-do and somewhat-nosy philosopher Isabel Dalhousie continues McCall Smith's exploration of the rights and wrongs of everyday life, with Isabel's thoughtful presence providing decidedly more intellectual punch than the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. When Jamie, a young musician, begins to show interest in Isabel, her stirred feelings threaten to overwhelm her even keel, throwing her into ethical crisis. To what degree are our lives dictated by biological imperatives and desires? Does the meaning of art arise from the art itself or its audience? Are white lies permissible, and if so, when? What does the well-off individual owe the homeless man on the corner? Out-of-town visitors to Edinburgh—Americans, no less—provide further touchstones for all manner of ethical mulling as well as the grist of the book's mystery: does Angie, a young, inscrutable woman betrothed to a wealthy Dallas bachelor, Tom Bruce, have her eyes set on true love or money? At times Isabel's intense dedication to mindfulness borders on the didactic, but love comes to the rescue, nicely illustrating the book's most important philosophical puzzle: how is it that people find real happiness, and what does it have to do with loving rather than thinking? (Sept. 19)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Prolific Scottish novelist McCall Smith is best known for the delightful--and phenomenally popular--No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. His second mystery series, featuring Scottish American moral philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, is a charmer, too, and steadily growing in popularity. In this third installment, Isabel, fortysomething and well to do (her mother left her a sizable inheritance, much of which she donates anonymously to charity), once again finds herself in several ethical dilemmas. Houseguests from Dallas introduce her to an affable and affluent fellow Texan, whose flighty fiancee seems less interested in his character than his cash. Meanwhile, Isabel must come to terms with her feelings for Jamie, her niece's handsome former suitor. (He's 14 years Isabel's junior, but should age really matter when it comes to matters of the heart?) Isabel's predilection for passing judgment occasionally comes off as preachy, but her assessments of human foibles are both hilarious and shrewd. Even the most erudite among us can't always suppress inappropriate urges, advises Isabel, illustrating her point with the tale of a Cambridge classicist who vociferously opines on the girth of a visiting scholar's wife. Adding to the pleasures here are McCall Smith's wealth of heady references, from W. H. Auden and Robert Graves to Catullus and Kant. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This is the third book in the series. In the prior books, Isabel shows herself to be a woman who likes to take her time to examine her behavior . . . before acting . . . and usually kicks herself when she doesn't let her intellect lead her. While being concerned about her niece, Cat, Isabel mostly is disappointed that Cat has rejected the handsome and worthy Jamie for a series of less good marital candidates. But Isabel has taken solace in keeping Jamie for a friend, while Jamie pines for the uninterested Cat.
When it rains, is that a blessing . . . or bad luck? In Scotland where it usually rains, you'd better take the former attitude. That's the theme of this story: How should you handle the unexpected?
The story moves forward on a number of fronts: Isabel develops an interest in an odd couple of Americans who turn out to be friends of her cousin; Cat has a new man in her life; Isabel and Jamie seem to drift closer together than either expected; Isabel helps Cat find some new help; and Isabel sets out to buy a home for Grace, her housekeeper.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
Isabel develops a romantic interest (I won't spoil it for you!), has some visitors from America, and generally has some interesting and fun times. The plot, as in the previous books, has little enough to it that I don't want to say much more, but the philosophical musings and thoughts on everyday life are charming and a pleasure to read, and I was thrilled to see her character blossom so nicely!
Can't wait for the next one.
While I am happy to see that this book was subtitled "An Isabel Dalhouse Novel" instead of "Mystery", I think this book would have been more appropriately labeled "Romance", since the sole purpose of the book seemed to focus on when and how Isabel would get together with Jaime.
Unfortunately, this book was not much of a romance, either. I could not relate to it on any front. I am actually the same age as the main character, married to a younger man and without children. I am an inquisitive and educated person. I have been to Scotland and have met many people like the ones described in the book.
Despite all of the similarities, this book just rings false to me. This new relationship between Jaime and Isabel(friends with benefits?) is not in the least bit romantic. Isabel has to be the worst "detective" ever, frequently and repeatedly jumping to wrong conclusions throughout the series. For someone big on examining the morality and ethics of others, she is remarkably blind to her own. Whether Cat had rejected Jaime or not, surely an affair with a man who is the ex-lover of one's niece and closest living blood relative warrants some kind of moral/ethical debate. It is shocking to me that Isabel was taken aback at Cat's reaction to her new relationship with Jaime. I would have been suprised if her response had been anything other than it was. I don't think it should have taken a philosopher to anticipate that.
Isabel's constant pining over Jamie, and his seeming almost indifference to her, really wore on me. I forced myself to finish this book. A very sad end to what had been a good series. I know another book follows this one, but I will not be reading it.
I have had enough of the self-absorbed and self-righteousness musings of Isabel Dalhousie.
Most important is the change in tone. I still relish Isabel's deeply ethical approach to life and McCall Smith's writing, but this book feels like it should be viewed separately from the other books. It delves more deeply into Isabel's inner life, while dealing only superficially with her relationship with other. Even her affair is given a very cursory treatment.
If what you enjoyed about the previous Isabel Dalhousie books were the interplay of philosophy and genuine mysteries, then this book may leave you unsatisfied. If you really relished the philosophical discussions, then read on, and ignore the fact that the only "question" (not even a mystery) is of the nature of "does he like me."
With particular finesse, Smith weaves in both the American perspective and the Scottish perspective because "Isabel" is half each and Smith mixed in some visiting American relatives from Texas. He thus created an opportunity to mix and match cultures in this ethical question. The resolution of that question I will leave to the reader as he or she consumes this finely created addition to the "Isabel Dalhousie" series of Smith books.
As always, Smith is clear, with fine and illustrative human experience examples to point out the fine points of ethics, especially as it mixes with real society and real human beings. Nonetheless, his messages are clear and his style is engaging. The book is recommended to all readers of Smith's former works and anyone looking for a quick and interesting take on the societal position of older women being involved with younger men.