Cover Image: The Sweet Remnants of Summer

The Sweet Remnants of Summer

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Member Reviews

The Philosophy series books are so gentle and calming, and they are deeply thoughtful as well. I find much of the moral philosophizing above my pay grade, but I always enjoy the journey with old friends, Isabel, Jamie, and family.
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Alexander McCall Smith continues the cozy life of Isabel Dalhousie in The Sweet Remnants of Summer. Isobel and her husband Jamie find that intervening in other people's lives and problems comes with moral issues and a drag on their personal time.  Endearingly cozy look at Scottish life.
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The latest installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s “Isabel Dalhousie” series is a very enjoyable read. Fans of Isabel and her philosophical musings will be happy to know that she is still in fine form, with her mind wandering away from every conversation to contemplate the moral or ethical issues at hand. I love this series not only because Isabel is an intriguing and complex character, but because philosophy is rarely a substantive aspect of contemporary fiction. Although Isabel’s niece, Cat, plays only a small role in this story, she is back in town and I suspect that more drama with her is to come in the future. In “The Sweet Remnants of Summer” Isabel again takes on a challenge, despite Jamie’s warnings, although he presents an additional problem to her. In many ways this book follows the formula set up in the previous books in the series, but that is a large part of the joy. The descriptions of late summer in Edinburgh—and various aspects of Isabel’s charming life there—are as lovely as always, and her admirers will take pleasure in  spending a few days in her company. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.
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Number 14 in my favorite McCall Smith series featuring Isabel Dalhousie, moral philosopher extraordinaire. While the narrative in these novels feature every day troubles such as family disagreements, child rearing, and  interpersonal … irritations, the real story is the deep and well-expressed thoughts they trigger in our editor of the Review of Applied Ethics.  The musings of her “tangential mental life” are endlessly intriguing, insightful, and thought provoking. Her brand of philosophy is never dry — it is philosophy as applied to actual human lives.

I love McCall Smith’s writing — it consistently reminds me of the beauty of the English language and embeds new (to me) or rarely used words that I find absolutely stimulating.  Well, I never said I wasn’t a weirdo!  Two of my favorites from this volume:  adumbration and purlieus (if you like words, look them up!)

He always tackles topics of current concern, and no topic is left un-thoroughly discussed. No slogans, no strict identification with any party line.  Characters get to examine and evolve their own thoughts and principles (sometimes with a little gentle help) into something that better adapts to their current situation.

I always feel calmer after reading one of these books.
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Isabel, editor of a philosophy journal based in Edinburgh, has a reputation for helping others--her husband would prefer that she refuse some of these requests. Of course, she doesn't. Laura, an acquaintance, is upset because her husband and son have become estranged; she blames the son's roommate, and wants Isabel's help. Isabel reluctantly talks to the roommate, and learns that he is not the one at fault. She also meets her niece Cat's new beau, and faces a dilemma: Cat is flighty and irresponsible, and has neglected to tell her new man much. Isabel must decide if she should warn this kind gentleman, or keep her mouth shut. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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Alexander McCall Smith's THE SWEET REMNANTS OF SUMMER is another delightful entry in the Isabel Dalhousie series. Smith's long-time readers will find exactly what they're hoping for--more of the author's trademark kindness and gentle exploration of character. SWEET REMNANTS is a particularly strong entry in the long-running series, marked my moments of luminous grace as Isabel works to reconcile a broken family.
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