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  1. This is the latest in the Isabel Dalhousie series, which I can't find any other posts about. I very much like the series and the main character, but I know that not everyone else does. Actually, I know that my mother does not. Isabel Dalhousie is a very affluent woman who lives in Edinburgh and owns and edits the "Review of Applied Ethics." She also has much-loved, very irritating niece and a much-loved, much younger lover with whom she has a young son. People turn to her with their problems and in this book, that happens again. Her professional work on the Review and her various attempts to help people plus her personal life give her a lot of opportunity to muse about what is right and wrong. These books follow something of a formula. The themes are the themes of all of the McCall Smith books--the place of the individual in society, the lure of physical beauty, and the very human desire to be loved. The stories follow a similar arc as well. Often, Isabel rabbits down all sorts of wrong paths in solving the problems she encounters, sometimes blundering rather badly, but she usually comes through in the end. I find all of this charming and his books always make me want to visit Edinburgh (in the summer). This book was no exception. If you like this series, I would recommend it. If you haven't read the series, then I would recommend starting at the beginning. McCall Smith's books are among the few that I have read in the proper order and I highly recommend doing it that way.
  2. I just finished this book last night. It tells the story of a young woman's life from early childhood until her mid-50s. She is in her late 20s when WWII starts and her marriage "shattered" (that's from the book cover, so it's not a spoiler). She is relatively comfortable financially and gets more comfortable as time goes on, but leaves London to live in a small town. There, she has a garden, helps a farmer with his hens, meets a young Polish refugee, Feliks, and organizes an orchestra. The orchestra runs for 5 years and finishes up with a "victory" concert at the end of the war. It reassembles one more time during some political disturbances in the 1960s, leading to an important resolution of a key plot point. I enjoyed this book, but did not love it. I enjoyed it for McCall Smith's writing style, which I always enjoy, and for the themes that he seems constantly to employ in his work: the importance of the individual's actions in society, the quite understandable lure of physical beauty, and the very human desire to be truly loved. There are probably other themes that I missed (I was a history major in college in large part because obvious themes of writing weren't always obvious to me). What I didn't like was that the pacing felt "off." In particular, the orchestra of the title is not all that important in the book. But also, La always seems to be very ahead of or very behind the important events of her life. McCall Smith may have meant to do this on purpose. I think a lot of lives were out of sync after WWII. I also think that people are a little less self-conscious about admitting to and pursuing love as they get older (that's a reference to the information in the spoiler, admittedly, but it's not a spoiler itself, which is why I left it in). But I still found that aspect of the book frustrating. Despite these flaws (if they are flaws and not the actual point of the book), I liked it. But I like all of his books, even the Portuguese Irregular Verb ones, which many people find a little off-putting.
  3. Wayward daughters. Missing Husbands. Philandering partners. Curious conmen. If you've got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only - and finest - female private detective. Her methods may not be conventional, and her manner not exactly Miss Marple, but she's got warmth, wit and canny intuition on her side, not to mention Mr J.L.B. Maketoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. And Precious is going to need them all as she sets out on the trail of a missing child, a case that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger . . . Delightfully different, THE NO.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY offers a captivating glimpse of an unusual world. <iframe width="300" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder=0 src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=bookgrouponli-21&l=st1&search=No.1%20Ladies&mode=books-uk&p=12&o=2&f=ifr&bg1=C6EFF7&lc1=082984&lt1=_blank"> <table border='0' cellpadding='0' cellspacing='0' width='300' height='300'><tr><td><A HREF='http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/bookgrouponli-21' target=_blank><img src="http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/G/02/associates/recommends/default_300x300.gif" width=300 height=300 border="0" access=regular></a></td></tr></table></iframe>
  4. Hi, I'm working with the Telegraph, and I thought you'd be interested in hearing about a project they've just launched with Alexander McCall Smith. The author will be writing a chapter a day for the next 20 weeks, for his new novel - Corduroy Mansionshttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/exclusions/alexandermccallsmith/nosplit/alexandermccallsmith.xml The story started on Monday, but you can catch all the chapters on the website, as well as via audio download. I thought the book could provide good discussion on the forum, as everyone reads it at the same time. I hope you enjoy the story. Thanks.
  5. This is the eighth book featuring Mma Ramotswe and her detective agency. I thought this book was one of the stronger story lines in the series dealing as it did with difficlutlies in relationships and the consequences therof. But, as always, the story resolution and happy ending left a warm glow.
  6. This is the seventh book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I realise that these books are not to everyone's taste. Some think they are shallow or twee or just too plain nice. But I enjoy reading books that understand human nature so well and are so life-affirming. This is, perhaps, not the strongest book in the series but was still enjoyable.
  7. 'Ex-CID. Ex-New York. Ex-cellent' reads the sign outside the Satisfaction Guarantee Detective Agency. Cephas Buthelezi certainly talks the talk, Precious discovers, but would he have the wherewithal to deal with her current case - a man who has been attacked by ostrich rustlers, and is eager to reassess his life? Meanwhile, there are difficulties at the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, where one of the apprentices has discovered the Lord, problems at home with the mysterious death of a hoopoe, and romantic complications when Mma Makutsi sets up a typing school for men . . . <iframe width="120" height="213" scrolling="no" frameborder=0 src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=bookgrouponli-21&l=st1&search=kalahari%20typing%20school&mode=books-uk&p=6&o=2&f=ifr&bg1=C6EFF7&lc1=082984&lt1=_blank"> <table border='0' cellpadding='0' cellspacing='0' width='120' height='213'><tr><td><A HREF='http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/bookgrouponli-21' target=_blank><img src="http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/G/02/associates/recommends/default_120x213.gif" width=120 height=213 border="0" access=regular></a></td></tr></table></iframe>
  8. THE NO.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY published in 1998, introduced the world to the one and only Precious Ramotswe, the engaging and sassy owner of Botswana's only detective agency. TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE took us further into this world, and now, continuing the adventures of Mma Ramotswe, MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, finds her expanding her business to take in the world of car repair and a beauty pageant. Alexander McCall Smith's sense of humour and gentle charm have created a substantial cult following. MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS will win him yet more fans. <iframe width="120" height="268" scrolling="no" frameborder=0 src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=bookgrouponli-21&l=st1&search=morality%20for%20beautiful&mode=books-uk&p=8&o=2&f=ifr&bg1=C6EFF7&lc1=082984&lt1=_blank"> <table border='0' cellpadding='0' cellspacing='0' width='120' height='268'><tr><td><A HREF='http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/bookgrouponli-21' target=_blank><img src="http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/G/02/associates/recommends/default_120x268.gif" width=120 height=268 border="0" access=regular></a></td></tr></table></iframe>
  9. Mma Ramotswe, who became engaged to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni at the end of the first book, is still engaged. She wonders when a day for the wedding will be named, but she is anxious to avoid putting too much pressure on her fiancé. For indeed he has other things on his mind - notably a frightening request made of him by Mma Potokwani, pushy matron of the Orphan Farm. Mma Ramotswe herself has weighty matters on her mind. She has been approached by a wealthy lady - whose fortune comes from successful hair-braiding salons - and has been asked to check up on several suitors. Are these men just interested in her money? This may be difficult to find out, but Mma Ramotswe is, of course, a very intuitive lady . . . <iframe width="180" height="180" scrolling="no" frameborder=0 src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=bookgrouponli-21&l=st1&search=full%20cupboard&mode=books-uk&p=33&o=2&f=ifr&bg1=C6EFF7&lc1=082984&lt1=_blank"> <table border='0' cellpadding='0' cellspacing='0' width='468' height='362'><tr><td><A HREF='http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/bookgrouponli-21' target=_blank ><img src="http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/G/02/associates/recommends/default_180x180.gif" width=180 height=180 border="0" access=regular></a></td></tr></table></iframe>
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