The Sunday Philosophy Club

The Sunday Philosophy Club

Book - 2004
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Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective.  Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction's most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answers to all of life's questions, large and small.

With The Sunday Philosophy Club , Alexander McCall Smith, the author of the best-selling and beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels, begins a wonderful new series starring the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie.

Isabel is fond of problems, and sometimes she becomes interested in problems that are, quite frankly, none of her business. This may be the case when Isabel sees a young man plunge to his death from the upper circle of a concert hall in Edinburgh. Despite the advice of her housekeeper, Grace, who has been raised in the values of traditional Edinburgh, and her niece, Cat, who, if you ask Isabel, is dating the wrong man, Isabel is determined to find the truth-if indeed there is one-behind the man's death. The resulting moral labyrinth might have stymied even Kant. And then there is the unsatisfactory turn of events in Cat's love life that must be attended to.

Filled with thorny characters and a Scottish atmosphere as thick as a highland mist, The Sunday Philosophy Club is irresistible, and Isabel Dalhousie is the most delightful literary sleuth since Precious Ramotswe.
ISBN: 9780375422980
Characteristics: 247 pages ;,22 cm.


From the critics

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Nov 16, 2018

1st book in the series; 12 in the series thru yr 2018.
Good reading......I like turning the pages, wondering how Isabel's insights about behavior, ethics, people's attitudes, will continue to "inform" me, the reader, as significant ruminations within the plot.
Alexander McCall Smith is a smart writer; his use of dialogue is rather minimal.

Because Isabel is financially advantaged, she has a housekeeper, Grace's personality is a "fresh remark," "a bright spot," upon showing the intelligence of a woman who is deeply guided by gut wisdom, right principles, observative powers, and strong loves. Grace is fully engaged with living, as a quest of making life better for more than only herself, as too, Isabel.

This book is "kind of a mystery" because the sudden death of a young man at a musical concert is a hub within the circle of the plot. Isabel was the last person to look into his eyes, before his death. Therefore, she acts on that connection to unearth the cause of his death.

And BY the way, ....will the supposed to exist Sunday Philosophy Club ever meet?

This reads like Nance Drew all grown up. She is wealthy; She is an editor of an international ethics journal so is always making supercilious comments on submissions; she is an art connoisseur; she plays piano well and is a semi-professional flautist and she solves mysteries. I kept rolling my eyes. This is not a book for the refined reader.

Mar 16, 2018

I'm so glad to have found a writer who has bucked the fiction that in order to be interesting, a story must increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure, and make your innards quiver with nervous tension. I thoroughly enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's approach: straightforward, character-driven narrative and Goldilocks pacing for pleasurable night-time reading: enough suspense to keep me interested, but not so much that it keeps me awake.

No nightmare fodder here, although McCall Smith certainly has the skill and intelligence to write a suspenseful scene. He just doesn't turn it into a nightmare. It is nice to enjoy the suspense, knowing I can trust him to let me sleep when it is time to turn out the light.

His stories are simple; his characters realistically imperfect, likeable, and uncomplicated company I enjoy keeping; and his settings places I would like to inhabit.

An easy, relaxing, pleasurable read, like a walk through a favourite park on a sunny day or a cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallows) by a fireside on a cold and windy night. Great escapism for those times when life is just too stressful.

Sep 19, 2017

Like in all of McCall-Smith's books, the characters are the most important part of the story. You don't have to like them, but after a couple of books you will get to know them, almost like friends or acquaintances. Some are not so interesting as others, but Isabel Dalhousie brings to mind so many questions. I like that she is an older woman, deeply in love with a much younger man, an unusual circumstance in most books. I enjoy her ethics and every time I read another book in the series, I want to sign up for a Philosophy class.

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 05, 2015

Just as Precious Ramotswe was so much a part of Botswana’s distinctive African way of life in his earlier books, McCall Smith’s new female protagonist, Isabel Dalhousie, is a perfect match for her Edinburgh setting. Rather smug and old-fashioned, but in a nice way! Isabel cannot help but interfere, with the best of intensions, in her niece’s love life and she is driven to pursue investigations, from a sense of personal obligation, into a possible murder. Her philosophical ramblings and social observations along the way are thoroughly entertaining and they give this book the delightful ambience that we have come to expect from McCall Smith.

mrsgail5756 Jan 11, 2013

A very good read. I enjoyed this book. I would recommend this book for all to read.

Dec 04, 2012

Finally! A book with interesting questions! Readers whose top strengths do not include philosophy will be bored or impatient with this book. For anyone philosophically minded, though, this one is delightful! Isabel questions everything, often arriving at insightful answers. She reminded me why the Norwegian government includes a philosopher and why every government should, too. If we don't ask the right questions, we will never find the right answers. I'm looking forward to reading the entire series!!

Crickett Jul 19, 2012

I am hooked. Isabel Dalhousie is a complicated woman who questions everything and with interesting results.

Aug 20, 2011

Enjoyed this book, although not as much as the Number One Ladies Detective Agency Series.

Aug 17, 2011

No where near as good as his No1 Ladies Detective Agency series. This book just goes on and on about nothing to do with the plot.

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Jul 11, 2008

The first novel in McCall Smith's series, starring Isabel Dalhousie who ever thinks, thinks, and thinks (made possible by making her the editor of the "Review of Applied Ethics).

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