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The Lost Art of Gratitude: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel (6) (Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]

Alexander McCall Smith
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $4.96 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description


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.
The sensational sixth installment in the best-selling chronicles of the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie finds our inquisitive heroine and new mother racing two very troublesome people from her past.

Isabel’s son, Charlie, is only eighteen months, but his social life is already kicking into high gear, and it's at a birthday party, where Isabel is approached by Minty Auchterlonie, an old adversary and now a high-flying financier. Minty, it seems, is having trouble in her personal life, and seeks Isabel's help. To make matters worse, the anything but peaceable Professor Dove has accused Isabel's journal of plagiarism.  There is also the ever-pressing question of the future of her relationship with Jamie. As always, she makes her way toward the heart of each problem by philosophizing, sleuthing, and downright snooping as only she can.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Smith's quietly triumphant sixth novel to feature Scottish philosopher Isabel Dalhousie (after 2008's The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday) shows that Isabel and the author's other, better-known female sleuth—Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series—are sisters under the skin, despite obvious differences. Minty Auchterlonie, who once alerted Isabel to some insider trading, fears someone is out to get her. The tax authorities have suddenly investigated Minty, and an unknown party has sent her a funeral wreath. When Isabel looks into these provocative acts, she draws on lessons learned from the journal she edits, the Review of Applied Ethics, to arrive at the complex truth behind them. Meanwhile, the father of Isabel's young son proposes marriage, and a defeated academic rival accuses her of knowingly publishing plagiarism. Smith's trademark humor and telling observations about people heighten the appeal. (Sept. 22)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Praise for the Isabel Dalhousie Series:

"Alexander McCall Smith, a fine writer, paints his hometown of Edinburgh as indelibly as he captures the sunniness of Africa. We can almost feel the mists as we tread the cobblestones."
The Dallas Morning News

"The literary equivalent of herbal tea and a cozy fire . . . Invite[s] readers into a world of kindness, gentility, and creature comforts. McCall Smith's Scotland [is] well worth future visits."
The New York Times

"Alexander McCall Smith's assessments of fellow humans are piercing and profound. [His] depictions of Edinburgh are vivid and seamless . . . His fans are sure to embrace these moral peregrinations among the plaid."
San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

  • File Size: 959 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (September 22, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002L6HE4G
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,398 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enviable life October 4, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
You have to believe that author Alexander McCall Smith has a special fondness for his main character in "The Sunday Philosophy Club" series, Isabel Dalhousie, for he has created for her a seamlessly agreeable life. She is intelligent, well-educated, well-to-do and beautiful. She has a handsome, sensitive and younger fiance, who has fathered her beautiful and well-behaved son. Isabel loves her "job" as a moral philosopher and editor of a scholarly journal and lives in a historic mansion in Edinburgh, a city that fits her like a glove.

So without the frisson and stress, how does "The Lost Art of Gratitude" (and others in the series) grab the reader's attention and hold it? It may well be that the very stresslessness of living is what makes her story so interesting and enjoyable to the reader. You know that nothing terrible will ever really happen to Isabel and to the ones she loves. Who doesn't fantasize about a world where we are surrounded by beauty and intelligence that will never end? Where babies don't ever have to have their diapers changed nor do they ever get colic or throw tantrums. Where your SO, in addition to being beautiful/handsome and talented, respects you and intuitively connects with your every thought and impulse. And is always yin to your yang.

McCall Smith does provide a few gray clouds for his heroine in "The Lost Art..." in the form of a couple of Isabel's old adversaries--Minty Aucterlonie and Christopher Dove, but they have both been vanquished by Isabel in the past, and there is no doubt that she will prevail against them again.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
The Lost Art of Gratitude is the 6th novel in the "Sunday Philosophy Club" series by Alexander McCall Smith, which center on philosopher and occasional amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie. The book picks up only 2-3 months after "The Comfort of Saturdays" - Isabel and Jamie's son Charlie now being 18 months old.

If you've read the other books in the series you'll know that they feature an assortment of storylines, most of which seem to take a backseat to Isabel's musings on everyday matters. This book is no different. Minty Auchterlonie asks Isabel to help her with a troublesome problem, Isabel's niece Cat has a new and unsuitable fiance, Brother Fox is injured and needs medical attention and Christopher Dove is scheming to force Isabel to resign as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics.

I truly love this series, but I was so disappointed by this book which felt like it was written "by numbers". One of the things that I like most is Isabel's musings on life and ethics. However this time round they felt forced: formulaic rather than intriguing. Also, McCall Smith seemed to have only limited interest in the plotlines. Cat's relationship felt like it was tucked in as an afterthought ("must involve Cat - oh let's give her another problematic boyfriend and we can just wrap it up by Isabel hearing about what happened"). The Minty storyline was given more prominence but then again it felt like he got bored with it in the end.

If you've loved this series as I do, you should still read the book - while disappointing, it's not completely dreadful. However I'd wait for the paperback. If you're new to the series, don't start here! Start with The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries). It's a series best read in order.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately unsatisfying October 24, 2009
There's a significant word in the title - "Novel". Yes, "novel", not "mystery" as the previous Isabel Dalhousie books have been labelled. So, there is "truth in advertising" because there is certainly no solving of mysteries in this book.

Instead we have the gentle story of a few weeks in the charmed life of Isabel Dalhousie and her relatives, friends and enemies, in which nothing much happens.

The not-so-nice Profs Dove & Lettuce re-appear but are easily and oh-so conveniently foiled again. The main storyline (or what I assumed was the main storyline) involving Minty the investment banker seems largely unresolved by the end of the book, so much so that I had to re-read it to make sure that I hadn't accidentally missed some important plot development by skipping a page. Perhaps the plan is for the next novel in the series to bring the Minty storyline to some kind of closure, or is the lack of closure somehow the point of the novel?

Perhaps "The Lost Art of Gratitude" is an attempt to resposition Isabel Dalhousie series into the serialised format of the 44 Scotland Street series, where we expect to follow the storylines of the characters from book to book. Or perhaps the author has just run out of steam with this group of characters?

If you are an Alexander McCall Smith fan and have read all his other books (as I have), by all means read this book for completeness (I am sure nothing I could say would stop you anyway). If you are new to Alexander McCall Smith, then this isn't the book to start with, try Number One Ladies' Detective Agency.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As usual this book delivers profound information in a gentle, humorous manner.
Published 1 month ago by Ann Baum
4.0 out of 5 stars Normally I love everything by this author, but...
Started out really loving Isabel Dalhousie, but now it's same old same old over and over and is getting kind of old. Read more
Published 1 month ago by humboldt honey
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost Art of Gratitude
Great entertainment novel. Isabel is better than ever. Well done , enjoyed it again the second time around
Thank you
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
As usual an excellent book
Published 3 months ago by barbara wellesley
4.0 out of 5 stars sweet, thoughtful read.
I love all the Isabel Dalhousie books, and look forward to the next. I love seeing her relationship with Jamie develop, and I enjoy seeing how she continues to learn about herself... Read more
Published 3 months ago by K. Sargis
5.0 out of 5 stars Really like the life questions that Isabel deals with
Really like the life questions that Isabel deals with, along with the ongoing story and the added character of Edinburgh
Published 5 months ago by Patricia S. Berky
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great and fast shipping!
Published 5 months ago by Lenore Kepler
4.0 out of 5 stars Good writing, good characters
I bought several of the series. It is a good series and the writing is very well done but I am discontinuing the series at this volume. Read more
Published 5 months ago by terracatta
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one.
I look forward to another Isabel's escapades.
Published 5 months ago by Grandma
4.0 out of 5 stars Continuing Series of a Philosopher
This book is one of a series in the Isabel Dalhousie series. One should read the books in order to appreciate the developments in the life of Isabel and her friends and family. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Teast
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More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).


Topic From this Discussion
Read McCall Smith's Corduroy Mansions book as well
Thank you, didn't know about this book.
Aug 28, 2009 by Joan Elkins |  See all 2 posts
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