Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Book Review - The Perils of Morning Coffee: An Isabel Dalhousie story by Alexander McCall Smith

The Perils of Morning Coffee
Well, not much to say really about McCall Smith's books except if you want a slow gentle meandering stroll through the streets of Edinburgh, there is no better person to do it with than The Editor in Chief of the Sunday Philosopher Club, Ms Isabel Dalhousie.

The prose is gentle as are most of the characters, with just the odd occasional munchkin thrown into the plot, well plot is really the wrong word to describe what takes place in a McCall Smith novel, they're more a gentle soliloquy told from the perspective of Isabel as she wanders through Edinburgh life engaged to her younger lover, a musician in the Scottish Orchestra and bringing up their toddler son together.

Isabel edits and publishes a Philosophy periodical the, 'Review of Applied Ethics', with two thousand four hundred and eighty seven  subscribers, (always pays to be precise in these kind of things!) which doesn't make any money, but that doesn't matter as she is 'secretly' well off.

Her relationship with her niece, Cat, is a fragile one as Cat owns and runs a delicatessen and seems, in Isabel's eyes to go through men quite quickly.  Of course the relationship is strained more than a little as Jaimie, Isabels lover, fiancée and father to Charlie their toddler son, was a 'cast off' of Cat's and she did not take kindly to her aunt taking up with him, even although she was the one who had ended their relationship......

The title of this one refers to a mistaken invitation to morning coffee that was accepted, acknowledged as a mistake, but the coffee morning then takes place between Isabel and an academic from the local university only for Isabel to be accosted in the street by the man's wife sometime later accusing her of having an affair with her husband. The sheer effrontery of the accusation is enough to send Isabel into all sorts of philosophical debate with herself, with Jaime and all and sundry and to begin to 'stick her nose in to places' where she would be better leaving alone.....

Complicated, but gentle soliloquy, it's the only way to describe these books.... you will either love them or hate them, Me, I love them.  You just get wrapped up in them but they are easy put downs and intermissions to something more serious that you might also be reading at the time, and if you love them, you will always find yourself sneaking back into it if you have put it down and turned to something else.

I know that is a strange description to give to any book, but there you go, it's the only way I can do it.

from me and because I am a huge fan it has to be

5 out of 5 stars  


  1. Hi, Tom. I enjoy Smith's books, but I don't pick them up often enough because, as you say, the tone is gentle and the thrill factor is very, very low. On the other hand, he really knows how to bring a character to life, even the oddest.

    Now I have a hankering for some quiet pleasure.

  2. Jaye, thanks for stopping by:

    Yes I do like a story with a bit of gore in it I have to confess and an epic battle or two don't go amiss, but I do like to retreat into the more genteel world of Mccall Smith for a more relaxing laid back read ......


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