No Words Wasted Sale
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


    Recently Viewed clear list


    Interviews | January 9, 2015

    Chris Faatz: IMG Jill Maxick of Prometheus Books: The Powells.com Interview



    For decades, Prometheus Books has put out titles we both love and respect. Prometheus is the leading publisher in the United States of books on free... Continue »

    spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$9.50
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Beaverton Mystery- A to Z

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate: The Sunday Philosophy Club

by

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate: The Sunday Philosophy Club Cover

ISBN13: 9780375422997
ISBN10: 0375422994
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $9.50!

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter one

The man in the brown Harris tweed overcoat—double-breasted with three small leather-covered buttons on the cuffs—made his way slowly along the street that led down the spine of Edinburgh. He was aware of the seagulls which had drifted in from the shore and which were swooping down onto the cobblestones, picking up fragments dropped by somebody who had been careless with a fish. Their mews were the loudest sound in the street at that moment, as there was little traffic and the city was unusually quiet. It was October, it was mid-morning, and there were few people about. A boy on the other side of the road, scruffy and tousle-haired, was leading a dog along with a makeshift leash—a length of string. The dog, a small Scottish terrier, seemed unwilling to follow the boy and glanced for a moment at the man as if imploring him to intervene to stop the tugging and the pulling. There must be a saint for such dogs, thought the man; a saint for such dogs in their small prisons.

The man reached the St. Marys Street crossroads. On the corner on his right was a pub, the Worlds End, a place of resort for fiddlers and singers; on his left, Jeffrey Street curved round and dipped under the great arch of the North Bridge. Through the gap in the buildings, he could see the flags on top of the Balmoral Hotel: the white-on-blue cross of the Saltire, the Scottish flag, the familiar diagonal stripes of the Union Jack. There was a stiff breeze from the north, from Fife, which made the flags stand out from their poles with pride, like the flags on the prow of a ship ploughing into the wind. And that, he thought, was what Scotland was like: a small vessel pointed out to sea, a small vessel buffeted by the wind.

He crossed the street and continued down the hill. He walked past a fishmonger, with its gilt fish sign suspended over the street, and the entrance to a close, one of those small stone passages that ran off the street underneath the tenements. And then he was where he wanted to be, outside the Canongate Kirk, the high-gabled church set just a few paces off the High Street. At the top of the gable, stark against the light blue of the sky, the arms of the kirk, a stags antlers, gilded, against the background of a similarly golden cross.

He entered the gate and looked up. One might be in Holland, he thought, with that gable; but there were too many reminders of Scotland—the wind, the sky, the grey stone. And there was what he had come to see, the stone which he visited every year on this day, this day when the poet had died at the age of twenty-four. He walked across the grass towards the stone, its shape reflecting the gable of the kirk, its lettering still clear after two hundred years. Robert Burns himself had paid for this stone to be erected, in homage to his brother in the muse, and had written the lines of its inscription: This simple stone directs Pale Scotias way/To pour her sorrows oer her poets dust.

He stood quite still. There were others who could be visited here. Adam Smith, whose days had been filled with thoughts of markets and economics and who had coined an entire science, had his stone here, more impressive than this, more ornate; but this was the one that made one weep.

He reached into a pocket of his overcoat and took out a small black notebook of the sort that used to advertise itself as waterproof. Opening it, he read the lines that he had written out himself, copied from a collection of Robert Gariochs poems. He read aloud, but in a low voice, although there was nobody present save for him and the dead:

Canongait kirkyaird in the failing year

Is auld and grey, the wee roseirs are bare,

Five gulls leem white agin the dirty air.

Why are they here? Theres naething for them here

Why are we here oursels?

Yes, he thought. Why am I here myself? Because I admire this man, this Robert Fergusson, who wrote such beautiful words in the few years given him, and because at least somebody should remember and come here on this day each year. And this, he told himself, was the last time that he would be able to do this. This was his final visit. If their predictions were correct, and unless something turned up, which he thought was unlikely, this was the last of his pilgrimages.

He looked down at his notebook again. He continued to read out loud. The chiselled Scots words were taken up by the wind and carried away:

Strang, present dool

Ruggs at my hairt. Lichtlie this gin ye daur:

Here Robert Burns knelt and kissed the mool.

Strong, present sorrow

Tugs at my heart. Treat this lightly if you dare:

Here Robert Burns knelt and kissed the soil.

He took a step back. There was nobody there to observe the tears which had come to his eyes, but he wiped them away in embarrassment. Strang, present dool. Yes. And then he nodded towards the stone and turned round, and that was when the woman came running up the path. He saw her almost trip as the heel of a shoe caught in a crack between two paving stones, and he cried out. But she recovered herself and came on towards him, waving her hands.

“Ian. Ian.” She was breathless. And he knew immediately what news she had brought him, and he looked at her gravely. She said, “Yes.” And then she smiled, and leant forward to embrace him.

“When?” he asked, stuffing the notebook back into his pocket.

“Right away,” she said. “Now. Right now. Theyll take you down there straightaway.”

They began to walk back along the path, away from the stone. He had been warned not to run, and could not, as he would rapidly become breathless. But he could walk quite fast on the flat, and they were soon back at the gate to the kirk, where the black taxi was waiting, ready to take them.

“Whatever happens,” he said as they climbed into the taxi, “come back to this place for me. Its the one thing I do every year. On this day.”

“Youll be back next year,” she said, reaching out to take his hand.

On the other side of Edinburgh, in another season, Cat, an attractive young woman in her mid-twenties, stood at Isabel Dalhousies front door, her finger poised over the bell. She gazed at the stonework. She noticed that in parts the discoloration was becoming more pronounced. Above the triangular gable of her aunts bedroom window, the stone was flaking slightly, and a patch had fallen off here and there, like a ripened scab, exposing fresh skin below. This slow decline had its own charms; a house, like anything else, should not be denied the dignity of natural ageing—within reason, of course.

For the most part, the house was in good order; a discreet and sympathetic house, in spite of its size. And it was known, too, for its hospitality. Everyone who called there—irrespective of their mission—would be courteously received and offered, if the time was appropriate, a glass of dry white wine in spring and summer and red in autumn and winter. They would then be listened to, again with courtesy, for Isabel believed in giv- ing moral attention to everyone. This made her profoundly egalitarian, though not in the non-discriminating sense of many contemporary egalitarians, who sometimes ignore the real moral differences between people (good and evil are not the same, Isabel would say). She felt uncomfortable with moral relativists and their penchant for non-judgementalism. But of course we must be judgemental, she said, when there is something to be judged.

Isabel had studied philosophy and had a part-time job as general editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. It was not a demanding job in terms of the time it required, and it was badly paid; in fact, at Isabels own suggestion, rising production costs had been partly offset by a cut in her own salary. Not that payment mattered; her share of the Louisiana and Gulf Land Company, left to her by her mother—her sainted American mother, as she called her—provided more than she could possibly need. Isabel was, in fact, wealthy, although that was a word that she did not like to use, especially of herself. She was indifferent to material wealth, although she was attentive to what she described, with characteristic modesty, as her minor projects of giving (which were actually very generous).

“And what are these projects?” Cat had once asked.

Isabel looked embarrassed. “Charitable ones, I suppose. Or eleemosynary if you prefer long words. Nice word that—eleemosynary . . . But I dont normally talk about it.”

Cat frowned. There were things about her aunt that puzzled her. If one gave to charity, then why not mention it?

“One must be discreet,” Isabel continued. She was not one for circumlocution, but she believed that one should never refer to ones own good works. A good work, once drawn at- tention to by its author, inevitably became an exercise in self-congratulation. That was what was wrong with the lists of names of donors in the opera programmes. Would they have given if their generosity was not going to be recorded in the programme? Isabel thought that in many cases they would not. Of course, if the only way one could raise money for the arts was through appealing to vanity, then it was probably worth doing. But her own name never appeared in such lists, a fact which had not gone unnoticed in Edinburgh.

“Shes mean,” whispered some. “She gives nothing away.”

They were wrong, of course, as the uncharitable so often are. In one year, Isabel, unrecorded by name in any programme and amongst numerous other donations, had given eight thousand pounds to Scottish Opera: three thousand towards a production of Hansel and Gretel, and five thousand to help secure a fine Italian tenor for a Cavalleria Rusticana performed in the ill-fitting costumes of nineteen-thirties Italy, complete with brown-shirted Fascisti in the chorus.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Krista Smith-Moroziuk, August 25, 2010 (view all comments by Krista Smith-Moroziuk)
I love his writing. A great summer read. A cooling Scottish wind. This book is the second in the series, and is as good as the first.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375422997
Subtitle:
An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery
Author:
Smith, Alexander Mccall
Author:
Smith, Alexander McCall
Author:
Smith, Alexander McCall
Author:
McCall Smith, Alexander
Publisher:
Pantheon
Subject:
Heart
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths
Subject:
Transplantation
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Edinburgh (scotland)
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;mystery;scotland;isabel dalhousie;edinburgh;philosophy;novel;sunday philosophy club;contemporary;humor;crime;detective;romance;ethics;british;uk;cozy;crime fiction;heart transplant;scottish literature;mysteries;friendship;great britain
Subject:
fiction;mystery;scotland;isabel dalhousie;edinburgh;philosophy;novel;sunday philosophy club;contemporary;humor;crime;detective;romance;ethics;british;uk;cozy;crime fiction;heart transplant;scottish literature;mysteries;friendship;great britain
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
An Isabel Dalhousie Novel
Publication Date:
20050920
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.38x5.88x.96 in. .92 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. 44 Scotland Street
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  2. At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  3. Portuguese Irregular Verbs
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  4. 44 Scotland Street
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  5. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Used Trade Paper $3.95
  6. The Right Attitude to Rain
    Sale Hardcover $3.97

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate: The Sunday Philosophy Club Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375422997 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The second installment of McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series sports a charmingly meandering plot and winningly hyperverbal characters — no surprise to fans of Isabel Dalhousie's debut, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, or any of McCall Smith's 50-plus titles. Once again, Edinburgh's Dalhousie, intrepid editor of a philosophy journal, finds herself analyzing other people's problems when asked to fill in for her niece Cat, at Cat's gourmet food shop-cum-delicatessen. At the shop, Isabel meets Ian, who is haunted by visions of a man he comes to believe must be the murdered donor of his transplanted heart. As McCall Smith lovingly takes Isabel sleuthing across Edinburgh, the donor's stepfather (a man Ian has never seen) turns out to look much like the man of Ian's nightmares. Meanwhile, Cat's romantic rejects find their way, via the shop, into Isabel's social set, including former major beau Jamie, a classical musician who, though 15 years younger, becomes Isabel's confidant. A delicious mix of the unlikely and the tried-and-true, this latest cozy from an undisputed master will make readers feel just that. 9-city author tour. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , In this enjoyable follow up to The Sunday Philosophy Club, a character remarks: "It was hard to make goodness - and good people - sound interesting. Yet the good were worthy of note, of course, because they battled and that battle was a great story, whereas the evil were evil because of moral laziness, or weakness, and that was ultimately a dull and uninteresting affair." Therein lies the charm of McCall Smith's writing: In his quiet, good-humored way, he makes goodness interesting. (Don't scoff: Even Milton had trouble with that one.) Scottish philosopher Isabel Dalhousie befriends a man who has just undergone a heart transplant and is troubled by visions. Meanwhile, she's still editing her journal on applied ethics and moonlighting as shopkeeper as a favor to her niece, Cat. (She's also tending to Cat's ex-boyfriend, Jamie, acting as confidant for the besotted musician.) As with his bestselling No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, the mystery is almost beside the point. Isabel's deductions provide McCall Smith with an opportunity to reflect on philosophy, the poems of Robert Burns, and Scotland. Grade: B+
"Synopsis" by , The delightful second installment in McCall Smith's already hugely popular new detective series, "The Sunday Philosophy Club," stars the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie--editor of the "Journal of Applied Ethics"--and her no-nonsense housekeeper, Grace.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top

FOLLOW US ON...

     
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.