The Comfort of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie 5) by Alexander McCall Smith

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The Comfort of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie 5) by Alexander McCall Smith

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: More wonderful 'interfering' from the incorrigible Isabel Dalhousie.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Abacus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0349120553

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As always with Alexander McCall Smith, this fifth book in the Sunday Philosophy series benefits from being read in sequence with the previous titles. One of the beautiful aspects of his writing is that his characters develop slowly, gently, over the series so although you could probably dive in here and get a fair idea of his style you really should start at the beginning to thoroughly enjoy the pleasure of an AMS read. In this episode Isabel is busy taking care of her son, Charlie, looking after her niece Cat's delicatessen, editing the review and struggling with her own personal fears over her relationship with Jamie. And she wouldn't be Isabel if she didn't, somehow, get entangled in someone else's problems, someone else's life, and here she finds herself trapped into investigating the case of a doctor whose career has been ruined.

I was torn about taking half a star away from my rating but in the end decided I had to because as much as I adore his writing, in this particular book there are a couple of things that niggle away at me too much to let them pass. Firstly, Isabel's son, Charlie is perhaps the most well-behaved and un-babylike little boy ever! Isabel does not seem to have suffered at all for having had a baby, and her life isn't dramatically different to how it was before. To be fair to AMS he does have Isabel mention that she considers herself very lucky since she has her housekeeper Grace to help, as well as Jamie who is a very hands-on father, and a young baby sitter who will happily watch Charlie of an evening if she wants to go out. Yet still, I do find myself feeling grumpily jealous of Isabel and how she seems to have uninterrupted nights of sleep, a happy, contented little baby and never finds herself crying, covered in porridge with a screaming baby who hasn't had a nap all day...

So, off comes half a star for this, and also because there is a little paragraph within the book where AMS suggests that all women are constantly terrified that their partners are going to leave them because they will grow old, unattractive, and their partners will meet someone else! I suspect that this is true of some women, but surely not all of us are living our lives worrying about this? (Well, I wasn't before but maybe I should be!) Isabel's jealousy and suspicions over Jamie are understandable with such a large age gap between them and his being, apparently, both wonderfully kind and handsome. But I did want to shake her every now and then and say 'for goodness sake woman, can't you see how good you've got it?!'

Still, I had those moments when the writing was so easy, so beautiful to read. I always want to underline bits, here and there, or break my rule about folding down the corners of pages just to mark some phrase or thought that I particularly like, or something he says that makes me want to pack my bags and go and live in Edinburgh. He says very near the start of the book The air was heavy, and although it would soon be eight o'clock, there was still a good deal of sunlight about - soft, slanting sunlight, with the quality that goes with light that has been about for the whole day and is now comfortable, used which I find very evocative. I also like when he has Isabel say towards the end of the book That was love, she supposed, elevating the ordinary into something beyond itself, and carrying one along with the entire absurd enterprise.

I don't think this is the best of the series, but still that makes it a darn sight better than a lot of other books! Best read in a comfy chair with a hot drink and a plate full of biscuits.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: The follow up to this book is The Lost Art of Gratitude or you might like to try his stand alone novel La's Orchestra Saves the World.

Buy The Comfort of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie 5) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Comfort of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie 5) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Comfort of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie 5) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Comfort of Saturdays (Isabel Dalhousie 5) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.com.


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