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on March 17, 2016
Those who know this series know that the best parts of it are watching those moments where Isabel must rectify her human desire to act with the philosophical underpinnings of her character and this novel is wonderful in so doing.

It's also fantastic to have an actual mystery on the plate to solve. One hopes that, as 'a woman of some discretion' Isabel will be given more discreet matters that require her attentions.

That Scotland itself is such a force in the novel adds to its charms. We can not all travel to Edinburgh, but through Isabel's eyes we have a beautiful visit.
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on May 24, 2017
With educational value, if you are interested in Scottish artist, Raeburn and Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, and if you enjoy small slices of people in relationships, this author or is always the one to spend time with.
Even if not, you will never be wasting your time with any of his many many diverse books. To read him, is to love him!
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on January 7, 2014
I love Alexander McCall Smith and have enjoyed all of the Isabel Dalhousie and Ladies Detective Agency books very much. They are low key, philosophical, humorous, gently written and they make me think about life and people in general, and find some positive, calming relief from the thrillers that I read on a regular basis (until another gentle, thoughtful book comes out.) My only complaint is that McCall Smith does not publish a new book very often and I miss being able to keep up with some of my favorite characters. Some people say they were disappointed in this book and some of his other more recent books, that are just more of the same. These books are not exciting. But they are a series that continues to relate the every day lives of interesting, lovable characters and this one is no different to me than any of the others. I am not sure what the negative reviewers were expecting, but this is exactly what I expect from these novels and am never disappointed. They are all the same, except that each is a continuation of the last, and they are meant to be that way. If you don't enjoy that, don't buy it. Otherwise, I find them a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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on November 24, 2014
I love McCall-Smith, I find his books soothing and wise and feminine yet balanced (this probably comes from their being written by a man!). I always get involved in his characters' lives, care bout them and can't wait to read more about them. Plots are not the point; human interaction and thoughts are, and they are presented with such a light hand, and such an obvious love for life and people and places that I always feel better after spending time with these books. Do not buy the Dalhousie or the Precious Ramotswe series (which I also love) if you want a proper detective story, but do buy them and enjoy them all, possibly in chronological order, if you want to be reconciled with life. Sounds like a lot to ask from books, but read them and you will see what I mean!
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on February 17, 2011
This delightful series never disappoints. And on this return visit to Edinburgh, we find Isabel enjoying her lovely romance with Jamie. They are happily raising their little boy, Charlie, together. Of course all is not perfect, and Isabel discovers she has a rival, Prue, for Jamie's affections. But Isabel manages to confront Prue as only Isabel can.

These stories are subtle and beautifully described. And the situation Isabel encounters in this book is interconnected with other elements in her life as only can happen in a small town sort of place like Edinburgh. People sometimes ask Isabel to "look into things," knowing that she is insightful and discreet. So, when Jillian, a distant acquaintance, asks her to suss out an anonymous letter Jillian's husband received regarding three candidates for a position at a private boys' school he is involved with, Isabel relectuantly obliges. As usual Isabel is successful and enjoys an "aha! moment": "For a few brief, delicious moments, Isabel experienced a sense of euphoria." She had "established the authorship of the letter beyond question."

I'm looking forward to catching up with Isabel again soon!
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on January 9, 2011
I've been a fan of this series from the start (as well as of the 44 Scotland Street books).
The interesting and insightful characters, the many references to places in Edinburgh and environs, the little glimpses into Scottish culture and life and overall "gentle" tone make these books so appealing.

However I found something about this book rather gloomy and depressing, but I can't quite articulate what or why. It just didn't give me the same enjoyment reading the previous books in the series had done. Isabel doesn't quite seem herself and at times I found her obsessing over her relationship with Jamie rather tiresome. I wondered whether Mr. McCall Smith was depressed when he wrote this one, or if perhaps he has grown tired of the series.

I also felt the central sleuthing aspect of the story was underdeveloped and rather resolved all too quickly in the last few pages, as well as being overshadowed by the storyline of the central characters' personal lives. In previous books, the balance between "the mystery" and Isabel's own life was just right - you wanted to find out what was going to happen in both situations. Here, the story of the three headmaster candidates almost seems like an afterthougt. Several other small threads seem to be either resolved too quickly or glossed over and left unresolved.

If this had been the first book from the series I had ever read, I don't think I would give the others a try. Hopefully this is just a one-off blip in an otherwise enjoyable and intelligent series.
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on August 14, 2016
In our modern times, the world sometimes feels like it is spinning out of control and understanding. But Isabel, Jamie and Charlie keep grounded by the most important thing in the whole world, LOVE.
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VINE VOICEon October 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
"The Charming Quirks of Others" takes Edinburgh's resident philosopher, Isabel Dalhousie, a few steps further down the path of her mostly idyllic life. As is her wont, Isabel examines the small moments of living and ponders the moral ramifications of her every interaction with others, striving for fairness and charity. Said in this way, it sounds a bit contrived and dry, but author Alexander McCall-Smith has the skill to present his heroine and her moral musings in ways that make them relevant and enjoyable for everyone.

Having put in a good word for the estimable Isabel and for the overall enjoyability of this particular book, I have to add that there are moments in "Quirks" where it would not have surprised me if our heroine's SO, Jamie, had turned to her and said, "Just let it go!". These were the several moments Isabel went into some very deep navel diving when acting on simple common sense would have done fine. Her well-known misreading of human nature is also present in this story. But it is trait that is long since built in to the character and therefore expected and forgivable.

This is not a ground-breaking book in the series, but comfortable and entertaining. If you're a fan of these books, don't miss it.
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on May 30, 2013
There is nothing in this book I dislike. McCall Smith is a competent writer, easy to read, and experienced in describing the quirks of the human psyche. The protagonist in this series - the Isabel Dalhousie series - is likable, like a good friend would be. One feels an affinity to her and one is comfortable in her world which is a combination of caring motherhood, loving companionship with a younger man, and being the editor of a magazine dealing with philosophy and ethics. This is not a high suspense novel, and that would not be McCall Smith's style, anyway. If you like Alexander McCall Smith you will enjoy reading this book.
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on May 20, 2013
I loved every page of this book and I'm not sure why it is getting such mediocre reviews. If you've read the other Isabel Dalhousie novels in the series, you should know what to expect. This one is no different: Mysteries that resolve themselves in the end peppered with Isabel's philosophical musings about life and the quirks, shortcomings and interactions of humankind. If you're looking for a mystery novel with a heroine that gets herself into all kinds of dangerous situations only to be rescued at just the right moment, you're not going to find it here. Bottom line. Tip: Read the Dalhousie novels in the right order.
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