Novel explores love, illusion at leisurely pace

  • By Mary Campbell / Associated Press
  • Saturday, October 14, 2006 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

In “The Right Attitude To Rain,” Isabel Dalhousie briefly meets a couple from Dallas in an art gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland. The reader assumes correctly that she will meet them again.

This is Alexander McCall Smith’s third book about Isabel, a moral philosopher in her early 40s who lives in Edinburgh, where she edits a journal about applied ethics.

In the previous books, Isabel acknowledged to herself that she’s in love with a much younger man named Jamie. He was discarded as a boyfriend by Isabel’s niece but remained friends with the aunt.

This time, those feelings of love are uppermost in Isabel’s thoughts. She does consider philosophical questions, such as whether it’s better to live in cheerful denial of some things or face up to them, and whether one should browbeat information out of a person who doesn’t want to give it.

Isabel dreams that Angie, the woman from Dallas, murders her wealthy fiance, creating suspense about whether the book will develop into a murder mystery.

Mainly, however, the suspense is about whether Isabel will stop worrying about being older than Jamie and whether she will initiate an affair. Isabel’s thoughts are revealed, but the reader doesn’t know how Jamie will react.

The pace of the book is slow – probably too slow for some readers. The best way to approach it is in a leisurely, contemplative spirit.

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