Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembrance of Things Past... *

Lots of preliminary remarks, and I'm going to make them all, in order from least relevant to most:
1) I didn't even finish a book this Friday night or Shabbos! Was too busy hangin' out with ma girls - we had fun :)
2) I finished the book today on the A train *up* to Washington Heights, so that I had nothing to read down from Washington Heights *or* on the E train home... what a waste!
3) Since starting this blog (in *April*) I have reviewed
    a) La's Orchestra Saves the World, stand-alone
    b) The  Double Comfort Safari Club (I think that's what it's called), #10 in #1  Ladies Detective Agency
    c) The Dog Who Came in From the Cold, Corduroy Mansions
    d) The Importance of Being Seven, 44 Scotland Street
All by Alexander McCall Smith - I mean this guy does not stop! But of course, there's one more series from which he just keeps popping 'em out - The Isabel Dalhousie books.  So this latest is #7, The Charming Quirks of Others.   Unlike a lot of the other series, this one isn't read by the majority of my family readers.  But I always liked them...

I think Sarah Sp's main objection at least was the Jamie/Isabel older woman/younger guy thing.  Whereas I can get over that very quickly, and the romance was great, at least in the first few.  Other objections might have been more substantial - of all AMS's books, these have the most random digressions and author's thoughts disguised as characters'... the saving grace for me has been that I tend to agree with Isabel.  She's a very refined and British person :) But she's definitely on the snobby side an definitely a little boring.  So I totally get why other people don't enjoy this series.

But I always enjoyed it.  Like I said, there was good romance going on, it's about an upper class lady in Edinburgh, to whom nothing much, at least nothing bad ever seems to happen... and even when something does happen, it's so discreet you don't notice :)  So it's got all the advantages I detailed in my first ever AMS review :) (which I happened to have looked back on a few days ago) which is nice easy writing, very little tension... and sensibilities I either don't object to or actually symphathize with (I'm sorry for all the dangling prepositions, don't know why I'm noticing them/using them so much today).  Anyway, the point is, I've pretty much always enjoyed these books.... but my enjoyment has lessened in the last few, because they are really pretty much all the same... well Isabel has a son now, Charlie, which makes her a little more approachable than before, but I'm not sure how much of a difference that really makes.  But they just mostly ramble on, and nothing Isabel/AMS thinks sounds particularly new original.

So that's fine... I still read them, because I still care about Isabel, they're still easy reading, and once I start something, I don't stop lightly (witness this blog :) - no not really I love my blog :)) But anyway, the downward curve of enjoyability (how mathematical :)) has continued with this one.  The book is a series of little incidents, as usual... but this time, the little incidents seem rather less probable normal.  Isabel has this thing about her intuition, which is of course usually right... and I'm reminded of Shaya Sp's comment on Sherlock Holmes's brilliance - of course he makes impossible deductions, he's fictional! I mean a great guess should not make you roll your eyes! Isabel is just like, oh, he killed someone.. and she's right! well la di dah.  And even if AMS does acknowledge this with Jamie's skepticism with Isabel's "gut", in the end he goes right along with it by proving her right at basically every turn.  Anyway, that's a bit of a tangent, not even what I meant to talk about.  What I wanted to say was the I found her observations, etc. to be more either more esoteric, or totally obvious, or flat out wrong than usual.  I'm like, I know you're a philosopher, and you're not a bad person, but the truth is, y'aint saying anything I'm interested in (and that's besides the now seemingly obligatory references to certain rights...) Either I'm getting less patient, or there's less to distract me from all the rather silly wandering-offs in the middle of the book...

Of course, as always (or as typical), the book kind of gains a footing towards the end.  Everything is resolved, and fairly satisfactorily, as well as in somewhat unexpected ways.  I'd say I got through the last few chapters a little more easily.. but I can't read or review a book on the last few chapters.. (well I can, but I don't want to :)) So anyway, I didn't love the book... but oh well, I wasn't really expecting to, and for better or worse, I'm not stopping now :)

Verdict: 2.75/5
Food: disappointing, especially after what came before... yesterday I had a chicken salad from Abigail's for lunch (thank you, google :)) and then for supper a steak salad from some place in KGH (thank you, yael m. for picking it up for me :)) which cost $15! and was *not* particularly good... I think my daily restaurant lunches may be spoiling me... or maybe not... I mean a steak salad doesn't need *that* much for me to like it, but whatever it does need, that one didn't really have it...

* Like the title? It's a little vague, maybe not entirely appropriate for this post, but I couldn't resist showing off my vast trivial knowledge with reference to an actual philosophical novel :)

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