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The Right Attitude to Rain: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel (Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries) Hardcover – September 19, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The third novel featuring well-to-do and somewhat-nosy philosopher Isabel Dalhousie continues McCall Smith's exploration of the rights and wrongs of everyday life, with Isabel's thoughtful presence providing decidedly more intellectual punch than the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. When Jamie, a young musician, begins to show interest in Isabel, her stirred feelings threaten to overwhelm her even keel, throwing her into ethical crisis. To what degree are our lives dictated by biological imperatives and desires? Does the meaning of art arise from the art itself or its audience? Are white lies permissible, and if so, when? What does the well-off individual owe the homeless man on the corner? Out-of-town visitors to Edinburgh—Americans, no less—provide further touchstones for all manner of ethical mulling as well as the grist of the book's mystery: does Angie, a young, inscrutable woman betrothed to a wealthy Dallas bachelor, Tom Bruce, have her eyes set on true love or money? At times Isabel's intense dedication to mindfulness borders on the didactic, but love comes to the rescue, nicely illustrating the book's most important philosophical puzzle: how is it that people find real happiness, and what does it have to do with loving rather than thinking? (Sept. 19)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Prolific Scottish novelist McCall Smith is best known for the delightful--and phenomenally popular--No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. His second mystery series, featuring Scottish American moral philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, is a charmer, too, and steadily growing in popularity. In this third installment, Isabel, fortysomething and well to do (her mother left her a sizable inheritance, much of which she donates anonymously to charity), once again finds herself in several ethical dilemmas. Houseguests from Dallas introduce her to an affable and affluent fellow Texan, whose flighty fiancee seems less interested in his character than his cash. Meanwhile, Isabel must come to terms with her feelings for Jamie, her niece's handsome former suitor. (He's 14 years Isabel's junior, but should age really matter when it comes to matters of the heart?) Isabel's predilection for passing judgment occasionally comes off as preachy, but her assessments of human foibles are both hilarious and shrewd. Even the most erudite among us can't always suppress inappropriate urges, advises Isabel, illustrating her point with the tale of a Cambridge classicist who vociferously opines on the girth of a visiting scholar's wife. Adding to the pleasures here are McCall Smith's wealth of heady references, from W. H. Auden and Robert Graves to Catullus and Kant. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375423001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375423000
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #987,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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).

Customer Reviews

This is the third book in the series.
Donald Mitchell
Unfortunately, this book was not much of a romance, either.
Mae Adamson
Alexander McCall Smith writes beautifully.
Joseph M. Check

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bill Jordin on March 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Right Attitude to Rain (2006) is the third novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series, following Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. In the previous volume, Isabel spent a bit of time thinking of Auden and Brother Fox. With a little help from Jamie, she tracked down the donor of Ian's heart. And she brought about a sense of resolution between a father and his late son.

In this novel, Isabel is concerned about her interventions into others's affairs. Several people, particularly Jamie, have chided her for going over the line into nosiness. However, she has convenient excuses for noticing a foreign couple park their car in a clearly marked no-parking zone and for following them into the Scottish Gallery. As it happens, she is destined to encounter this couple often during the next few weeks.

Speaking of intervening, Isabel is looking for an apartment for Grace, her housekeeper. Isabel's father has asked Isabel to take care of Grace and she has decided that this request means that she should provide a place for Grace to live. Isabel asks Jamie to go with her to inspect an apartment close to his home.

Isabel immediately takes a liking to the seller, Florence Macreadie, and Florence seems to like Isabel. Florence also seems to approve of Jamie. Florence has inherited a house in Trinity from her aunt and must leave her long-time residence. Yet she is not enjoying the flood of nosy viewers who have come into her home.

Cat has another boyfriend, Patrick, and Isabel is determined to hold back her opinions of the man. Isabel is told about Patrick by Eddie, Cat's only employee, who seems to approve of him.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gen of North Coast Gardening TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally, Isabel starts acting like a 40 year old instead of like an elderly lady! This book really started showing us how likeable and interesting Isabel really is, and for that I am grateful. I found the first book in the series rather dull, liked the second book a lot better, and finally really enjoyed this one.

Isabel develops a romantic interest (I won't spoil it for you!), has some visitors from America, and generally has some interesting and fun times. The plot, as in the previous books, has little enough to it that I don't want to say much more, but the philosophical musings and thoughts on everyday life are charming and a pleasure to read, and I was thrilled to see her character blossom so nicely!

Can't wait for the next one.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mae Adamson VINE VOICE on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a great disappointment. I don't know what I expected after the very good second book, but it certainly was not this. The Right Attitude to Rain reads like a long, ponderouss, unfunny episode of Seinfeld. For all of its credentials, it is essentially a book about nothing- except lusting after a younger man.

While I am happy to see that this book was subtitled "An Isabel Dalhouse Novel" instead of "Mystery", I think this book would have been more appropriately labeled "Romance", since the sole purpose of the book seemed to focus on when and how Isabel would get together with Jaime.

Unfortunately, this book was not much of a romance, either. I could not relate to it on any front. I am actually the same age as the main character, married to a younger man and without children. I am an inquisitive and educated person. I have been to Scotland and have met many people like the ones described in the book.

Despite all of the similarities, this book just rings false to me. This new relationship between Jaime and Isabel(friends with benefits?) is not in the least bit romantic. Isabel has to be the worst "detective" ever, frequently and repeatedly jumping to wrong conclusions throughout the series. For someone big on examining the morality and ethics of others, she is remarkably blind to her own. Whether Cat had rejected Jaime or not, surely an affair with a man who is the ex-lover of one's niece and closest living blood relative warrants some kind of moral/ethical debate. It is shocking to me that Isabel was taken aback at Cat's reaction to her new relationship with Jaime. I would have been suprised if her response had been anything other than it was. I don't think it should have taken a philosopher to anticipate that.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Katherine M. Lariviere on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've very much enjoyed the books in this series, but we've left the Sunday Philosophy Club Mystery series and entered the realm of Isabel's philosophical musings. That's not in and of itself a bad thing, but it's a change of pace. Part of the change are strange changes of detail: Isabel no longer thinks of herself as a "middle aged spinster" (as she did in the first book), but there are other changes that just become inconsistencies. In this book, Jamie has his apartment because he inherited it from an aunt; in the first book, we're told his parents bought it for him. In this book, Isabel's parents met in New York while her father was a student at Columbia. In earlier books, he studied at Harvard. What is consistent is that Isabel still thinks Jamie is beautiful, in a Mediterranean sort of way.

Most important is the change in tone. I still relish Isabel's deeply ethical approach to life and McCall Smith's writing, but this book feels like it should be viewed separately from the other books. It delves more deeply into Isabel's inner life, while dealing only superficially with her relationship with other. Even her affair is given a very cursory treatment.

If what you enjoyed about the previous Isabel Dalhousie books were the interplay of philosophy and genuine mysteries, then this book may leave you unsatisfied. If you really relished the philosophical discussions, then read on, and ignore the fact that the only "question" (not even a mystery) is of the nature of "does he like me."
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