In eight days I read three novels. That's unusual and tells me how much time I spend doing crosswords! The third was the seventh in the Isabel Dalhousie Novels series by Alexander McCall Smith. I've only posted on one of the others in the series: book five. The problem with AMS is that the books have such a sameness because they are a continuation of the same core characters; the same places in Edinburgh and its environs; the same mentions of WH Auden; the same frequent use use of quotidian, egregious and palimpsest; the same charming strengths, failings and foibles of the characters; even the plots seem to be a variation on a theme. It's all very comfortable and I love it for that.
It's taken me this long, though, to really appreciate that all that is just a comfortable way of delivering a treatise on what, for want of a better explanation, I shall call philosophy for the non-philosopher. It's all done in bite-size pieces for the mind easily to assimilate. One can accept it as a simple story or one can actually think. The latter goes against the grain with me but this time I actually did (occasionally).
I can never recall reading a full review of any of his books but I must do so at some time to see how anyone actually gives a synopsis which isn't just 'copywriters blurb'. The cover blurb for this book says "... the wife of a trustee of an illustrious school asks Isabel to look into a poison pen letter that makes insinuations about applicants for the position of principal. And what's more, when a pretty cellist with a tragic story takes a fancy to her husband-to-be, Isabel finds herself contemplating an act of heroic and alarming self-sacrifice." Frankly that tells the potential reader nothing about the book: certainly not a thing of value.
AMS is always throwing little teasers into his stories too: "...the rule was almost universally ignored and its authority, anyway, was questionable. Who established the precept anyway? Why not split an infinitive if one wanted to? The sense was easily understood whether or not the infinitive was sundered apart or left inviolate."
There is also a rather interesting discussion on goodness which, for me, touches the issue of whether goodness if there because it is or whether it is there because we are told it is (by, e.g., a religion).
Oh yes. There's a great deal of though to be had amongst all that comfort.....if, that is, that's what one wants.