It rained heavily last night, and we’re expected to have more rain over the next few days. As unpleasant as this might be, everything is looking very green this morning. And it’s a perfect day for a hot cup of tea and a good book.
My book club met virtually yesterday to discuss The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. Isabel Dalhousie is an independently wealthy single woman in her early forties living in Edinburgh. She has a degree in Philosophy and is the editor of the “Review of Applied Ethics”, but this is just a very part-time job. She seems to spend most of her time drinking coffee, doing the crosswords, dropping in on her niece Cat at her deli and attending lectures… oh, and getting involved in things tht are really none of her business. This novel opens with Isabel attending a concert that she is clearly not enjoying, having been given this ticket by a friend who was unable to go. She is readying herself to leave when she witnesses a young man fall to his death from the upper balcony. This event has shaken her, and when she reads about it in the newspaper the next day, she decides that it is her moral obligation to find out more. Did he just fall or could he have jumped? When she discovers that a friend of hers was also a friend of this man, Mark, she probes for more information about his life, and thus begins her investigation into what really happened to him before he met his death. She is also concerned with Cat’s choice of boyfriend, as she has disliked Toby since her first introduction. She wants Cat to resume her relationship with Jamie, whom Isabel feels would be much more suitable and would make Cat happier in the long run. Alas, the heart goes where the heart wants to go. These two issues make up the bulk of this first installment in the “Isabel Dalhousie” series. We were originally scheduled to read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, but one of my members thought it was too heavy and depressing to read right now, so soon after The Hate U Give, and requested that we switch up the reading list so we could read something a bit happier during this stressful time of rising COVID case numbers. It was a great idea, and Eleanor Oliphant is now rescheduled for the fall, when we will all hopefully be vaccinated and life returns to something resembling normal. This book was well-written and thought-provoking but was not heavy or sad. It was a light, if philosophical, read, and really took readers inside Edinburgh. One of my members read this when it was on our book list for last year, before life came to a standstill last March due to COVID, and she enjoyed it so much that she’s now on book five of this series. We all thought Isabel was much older than early forties, probably because of her habitual, unexciting lifestyle and the fact that she does not have a “real” job, as the “Review” seems to be more of a hobby. We found her relationships with both Cat and Jamie to be very interesting, as well as her relationship with her very Scottish, very unbending housekeeper Grace. While Grace sees everything in terms of black and white, for Isabel, all things are varying shades of gray, and she wonders which outlook makes one happier. One member said this book did not make her feel excited, that it was an easy, calming read, a thought upon which we all agreed. One of my members had read a few books in McCall Smith’s more famous series, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”, and she found some similarities between the main characters. I think that, once we can go to used bookstores again, I will try to find a few more books in this series, as Isabel is like a friend I might want to take off my bookshelf and “go for coffee with”, as opposed to requesting from the library and “making dinner reservations”. It was a good choice and we had a great discussion.
That’s all for today. Stay dry and curl up with a good book!Bye for now…