THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO RAIN by Alexander McCall Smith (Knopf), 276 pages, $29.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
In Alexander McCall Smith's books, love of the place where you live is a condition of happiness. And for Isabel Dalhousie, ardent philosopher and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, Edinburgh is exactly where she wants to be.
The rights and wrongs of human interaction are Isabel's bread and butter, and her compulsion to step in and sort things out has gotten her into trouble more than once.
The Right Attitude To Rain, the third instalment in the Isabel Dalhousie novels, finds the philosopher entertaining a cousin from Dallas and her husband. When the couple runs into a wealthy friend from Texas and his much younger fiancée, Isabel senses something not quite right about the relationship.
Ethical issues are at the heart of the matter, and she can't help getting involved even though her young friend Jamie is always on her about minding her own business. Meanwhile, her niece Cat has started seeing a man Isabel doesn't like, and there are her own growing feelings for Jamie to deal with. In the midst of this, Isabel finds out something about her late mother that changes her life.
McCall Smith writes with a quiet confidence in human nature and a canny eye for life's unexpected pleasures. There is much to ponder here: our attraction to physical beauty, the wisdom of Scotland's poets and thinkers and its bloody history, the animal intelligence of the fox that lives in Isabel's garden. As Isabel discovers, it's all about attitude.
This is a book best enjoyed slowly and thoughtfully, like a long walk in the Edinburgh rain.
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