Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Careful Use of Compliments

I was very excited this Tuesday as I had the opportunity to go and hear Alexander McCall Smith speak. As he is one of my favourite authors I couldn't pass it up. He is as entertaining in person as he is in his books. Anyway, I got copies of latest two The Careful Use of Compliments and The World According to Bertie. And, I got them signed! I was a little disappointed that I got starstruck when I met him and only managed to get a question in about when the next Von Igelfield novel will be published. FYI - it will be Christmas.

Thus far, I have managed to read The Careful Use of Compliments. For those acquanted with AMS's writing this is the fourth novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series. In this book she is in a relationship with Jamie (the ex-boyfried of her niece, Cat) and they have had a baby, Charlie, together. She discovers she has been dismissed from the editorship of the Review of Applied Ethics, and investigates a possible art fraud. I love AMS's writing because it is light and, yet, there are quite strong truths in it. For instance, I like the quote on page 182

"Jamie had looked at her and said, 'That's a very strange remark, Isabel. You talk complete nonsense sometimes. Flights of fancy'.

She had not minded. 'I like to think about things,' she said airily. 'I like to let my mind wander. Our minds can come up with the most entertaining possibilities, if we let them. But most of the time, we keep them under far too close a check.'"

As a side note, I had The Careful Use of Compliments sitting on my desk at work yesterday, having read it on the train going in. The day previous I had had A short history of tractors in Ukranian in the same place; a title my boss had taken note of. Yesterday he came over said "Oh, you've finished with the tractors. And now its, The Careful Use of Compliments. You do read some strange books!"

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