Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith

36. The Lost Art of Gratitude - sixth in the Isabel Dalhousie series
by Alexander McCall Smith
fiction, 2009
unabridged audio read by Davina Porter
finished, 6/28/10

There is a particular form of disappointment that readers feel. When we've loved a series, we expect we will always love it. And then one day a book comes out and we don't care for it in the old way. We hope against hope that it isn't a downward spiral, though we know it well could be.

Of all Alexander McCall Smith's works, I love the Isabel Dalhousie series the most. I've felt a special connection with her since the beginning. I wrote about this a bit when I did a book report on the book just previous to The Lost Art of Gratitude called The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday.

In this book, I just found myself annoyed with her. I didn't think she used good judgement when she got involved in an unpleasant situation. I understand that people come to her for advice and help but I thought her common sense was lacking in this instance. Maybe I read too many mysteries but it seemed like she took a chance confronting a woman in a remote place. This woman is not a good person, and though I knew that AMS would not let her harm Isabel, I still thought it was a silly thing for Isabel to do.

And, as I noted in the other book report, I can't say too much about the story/characters because there have been important changes which have occurred from book to book. Let's see: I can say she has a boyfriend. But he is almost too perfect, and I am a bit tired of her descriptions of his physical beauty and his kindness.

So, there you have it. Short and not so sweet this time. I rarely finish books I don't care for, but I felt that Isabel deserved my loyalty after giving me such reading joy in the previous books. It isn't a horrible book by any means but it was just ho-hum for me. Does this mean I won't read the latest one, The Charming Quirks of Others? Of course I'll read it. Maybe Isabel was just in a funk. Maybe she just needs to not say yes to every request for help. Maybe her fella will grow a bit as a person. Whatever does or doesn't happen, I'll continue to read about this kindly, well-intentioned woman who thinks deeply about life and how to live it.


  1. A few borrowers in the library have said the same thing about AMS books lately.

  2. I have felt that way about the Jacquline Winspear Maisie Dobbs series and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series--sometimes the characters behave badly or the situations seem contrived and trite--then I have to remind myself this is fiction!

  3. Funny that you should feel this way. I've felt that I've read that last few books in this series only out of a sense of duty.

  4. What a coincidence. I just finished listening to a Maisie Dobbs book and felt a bit disappointed. Not nearly as good as the previous books in the series. But I'll continue. As you said about Isabel, maybe Maisie was in a funk, too.

  5. Cait, thanks for telling me this - I'm really amazed. I sort of live in my own little book world, and am so surprised to learn someone feels the same way about a book as I do. :<)

    Morning's Minion, I've not read the Gabaldon though I've sure read of it! I haven't had this experience with Maisie.

    Clair, as I wrote to Cait, I'm amazed.

    Les, and as I wrote to Morning's Minion, I haven't felt this way about any Maisie books. From your sidebar, it looks like it was Messenger of Truth -

  6. Yes I am waiting on "The Charming Quirks of Others" but I too, like you was very disappointed in this book. Something was lacking.
    I'm now reading the 44 Scotland series by AMS. Have you read those?

  7. Mim, I almost wrote in the book report that AMS is the king of book titles. I love them all.

    I have read most of the Scotland Street series. I didn't like the first one, but then when I read the second one, Espresso Tales, I began to love them. I haven't read book 5 or 6 yet. My only ongoing criticism is that Bertie as a six year old just doesn't seem believable, even for a genius child.

  8. I have to say that the 44 Scotland series are my favorites after The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

    I named my little dog Bertie Pierre, after all!

  9. I'm positive that she was in a bit of a're the one who convinced me to give her another chance and I will!

  10. Clair, that's wonderful! I love the name!

    Staci, yes, please don't let this one book report put you off the series!

  11. I love Isabel, they are my favorite A.MCS books. I agree though about this one, time for the characters to grow a bit. It feels as though it was written rather too fast, though, what would I know!
    I will certainly read the next one, though I am off detective books on the whole at the moment.

  12. Carole, that's an interesting thought about written too fast. I guess I just want to see a bit of change - it's so much the 'same old, same old' when it comes to her fella and her niece. I want a bit more depth.


Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.