The Quiet Side of Passion by Alexander McCall Smith

The Quiet Side of Passion

Alexander McCall Smith

As Isabel navigates a delicate paternity case, she is also dealing with her niece's rebellious side. Isabel considers herself open-minded, but she must use her kindness and keen intelligence to determine the right course of action.

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Isabel finds herself grappling with ethically-complex matters of the heart as she tries to juggle her responsibilities to friends, family, and the philosophical community.

With two small boys to raise, a mountain of articles to edit for the Review of Applied Ethics, and the ever-increasing demands of her niece, Cat, who always seems to need a helping hand at the deli, Isabel barely has any time for herself. Her husband, Jamie, suggests acquiring extra help, and she reluctantly agrees. In no time at all, Isabel and Jamie have a new au pair, and Isabel has an intelligent assistant editor to share her workload. Both women, though, have romantic entanglements that threaten to interfere with their work, and Isabel must decide how best to navigate this tricky domestic situation. Can an employer ever inject herself into her employees’ affairs?

Meanwhile, Isabel makes the acquaintance of Patricia, the mother of Charlie’s friend Basil. Though Isabel finds Patricia rather pushy, she tries to be civil and supportive, especially given that Patricia is raising her son on her own, without the help of his father, a well-known Edinburgh organist, also named Basil. But when Isabel sees Patricia in the company of an unscrupulous man, she begins to rethink her assumptions. Isabel must once again call on her kindness and keen intelligence to determine the right course of action, at home, at work, and in the schoolyard.

Advance Galley Reviews

Alexander McAll Smith is an author who has long been on my to read list, but this is the first book I have actually read by him. The Quiet Side of Passion is the twelfth and latest installment in the Isabel Dalhousie / the Sunday Philosophy Club series set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Perhaps, starting mid series was not a good idea. Perhaps, this was not the Alexander McCall Smith series to begin with. It was not quite the introduction to the author that I was hoping for, but perhaps, I will give a different book a try. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Quiet Side of Passion by Alexander McCall Smith. However I completely ran out of time and didn’t have a chance to read this book. I was really looking forward to reading this book but life just got in the way.

I laughed out loud in the very first paragraph. It was, overall, a very enjoyable read. I keep forgetting that the author is a man, because he does such a nice job creating female characters. This was definitely a change from The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency, being set in Edinburgh. The characters are interesting and enjoyable, and I especially appreciated Isabel's internal ethical conversations. Unfortunately, this reads more like a short story than a novel. If you consider the basic story form to be: situation, conflict, resolution; this one is more: situation, conflict, first attempt at resolution - unsuccessful, the end. So it feels like we end up back where we started from. it was a very pleasant glimpse into Isabel's life, but she didn't make any progress. Just when we got to the real growth and learning opportunity, the story ended. Apparently there are other books that feature Isabel, but that's not an excuse for not fully finishing this one, which is how it felt. Just as it was really getting interesting, it was over. It reminded me of a high school paper when the student suddenly realizes that he has hit his target length and so ends it. So I enjoyed it, but I found the ending disappointing.

I received a copy of the book for free for my review. I struggled to finish the book. I did finish the book. But I couldn’t relate to the main character Isabel. So the book seemed slow moving and boring.

I found this book to be tiresome and repetitive. I found that there were a lot of tangents that seemed to go nowhere. I read the first 100 pages, but could not keep going. Thanks for the ARC, First to Read.

It is with anticipation and anxiety that I write my first book review for First to Read, having eased the task by selecting my “happy author” whom I read in my “happy place” (during summer vacations at the beach). Alexander McCall Smith is a most reliable tonic for the range of maladies that might befall you. Each year I save his latest novels for my summer dozen to ensure that amongst the sturm und drang of life, a bowl of cherries is available to devour. Isabel Dalhousie stars in “The Quiet Side of Passion”—number twelve in this Edinburgh-based series. From one viewpoint, McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie is the quintessential nosy neighbor; from another, she is charming, delightful, caring, and sought after by some for her inquiring mind. In “The Quiet Side of Passion” she continues her “interventions,” questioning assumptions about the paternity of a child in her son’s nursery school. Strangely enough, though we don’t get explicit details, her inquiries result in the wrongly-named father being cleared and the mother and son moving back to Ireland. Isabel’s attempts to re-balance her own life, by hiring both an au pair for their two sons and an editorial assistant to complete administrative work for her Journal of Applied Ethics, are resounding failures. The au pair from Italy, (whom she is sure will be a great childcare provider because, of course, all Italians love children), turns out to be more interested in the men she meets, earning her the characterization of nymphomaniac; returns home to Italy to be with her fiancé. The story line with Claire, the editorial assistant, is less than satisfying because its resolution is ambiguous. Claire is also the teaching assistant for Isabel’s nemesis, Professor Lettuce. Though an affair between Claire and Lettuce is suspected and Lettuce inserts himself into Claire’s editorial work for the journal, the only thing that is clear is that Claire resigns in tears. Isabel’s husband, Jamie, continues to be in a class by himself in terms of his patience, understanding, and expert fathering and culinary skills. McCall Smith sprinkles his prose with Scots words and phrases, e.g., timeously instead of timely, and many concepts of interest, e.g., akrasia, a state of mind in which someone works against their better judgment through weakness of will. Another endearing McCall Smith feature is his numerous references to Edinburgh-based landmarks, creating a sense of place. Thanks to the literary deities for giving us Alexander McCall Smith—long may he continue to deliver freshly baked scones and clotted cream to satisfy our appetites for the sweet comfort food so needed as we experience the decline of civility before our very eyes!

I was only able to finish 100 pages of this book before my copy expired. The plot seemed to be taking way too long to develop, and even after 100 pages, I still had no idea of what the gist of the story was. Alexander Mcall Smith's writing style is enjoyable, and I like his use of words and the underlying humor it creates, but I just couldn't connect with Isabel.

Another delightful addition to the Isabel Dalhousie series. Mr. McCall Smith has a delightful writing style and Isabel is one of my favorite characters.It is fun to read about the expanding world of Isabel and her family and share their life.

I never miss an Isabel book and was very happy to have the chance to catch up with her and her lovely group of family and friends. As usual Isabel can't resist any opportunity to help others, (even if they have not asked for it) and this time she has to deal with the consequences of her actions. I always enjoy listening in as Isabel ponders both major and minor moral issues.

Disappointed that I did not enjoy the book. It was an ARC from First to Read and I appreciate the opportunity, but could not enjoy the characters. I love the No.1 Detective Ladies Agency series and was disappointed that this one is so different.

I received this book as an ARC. I have not read anything by this author and I really enjoyed the book.The characters are ones that people can relate to and the story was just really well written It is a book that I couldn't put down. It is a great summer read.. Thank you for the advance copy.

"Cover hatred and fear with love and delight." What lovely words and just a sample of Alexander McCall Smith's latest work. Isabel Dalhousie grapples with daily conundrums, looking at them from many angles. In the process, I always discover little nuggets that help me see things both large and small with new understanding. The language, turns of phrase, well drawn characters, and insights gained make this a quick, delightful read. I highly recommend it. Lovely beach read.

I loved the book. This is the first book I read in this series. Philosophy isn't something I understand. I appreciate the education.

I have followed Isabel Dalhousie and the Sunday Philosophy Club series for many years, and was delighted to receive this advance reading copy of the newest installment. I love how the author weaves philosophical dilemmas into the story, and encourages the reader to question ideas of morality and ethics as applied to everyday life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book; how lovely to be able to take a peek every now and then into Isabel's life in Edinburgh.

Isabel is my favorite of Alexander McCall Smith's heroines. Isabel is thoughtful and likeable. As the other books in the series, this one is slowly plotted, and full of Isabel's inner thoughts and philosophizing. The "mystery" in the book comes from life and jumping to conclusions, and so feels very real. It's a lovely book to spend a lazy rainy day with, as we are slowly invited into the characters lives.

I can't find the book on my computer. It won't download.

On the positive side, I was surprised to learn that this was the 12th in a series. I didn’t feel like I had jumped into the middle of something; the story stood alone quite well. This was my second book by the author, as I had read one of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Ladies stories, and I do enjoy his use of language and turn of phrase as well as his sense of humor. I really wanted to like this book. I know Alexander McCall Smith is a popular author, but this story, and perhaps this series, simply isn’t my style. The main character is a philosopher and, I suppose not surprisingly then, she philosophizes everything...and I do mean everything. This caused the plot to move forward much to slowly for me, and I found trying to get into the book to be tedious for me.

I enjoyed it in the end but it was very slow going and I found it hard to get through the first two thirds of it. I know McCall Smith is very well liked but I think his style just might not be for me. I found the constant musing over every minute decision to be tedious and thought the main character Isabel was a bit of a pretentious busy body. Once the plot got moving and the musing lessened, I did enjoy it a bit more. I am still curious about the whole side plot with Claire and Professor Lettuce, wish that had been investigated more.

I have read a number of Alexander McCall Smith's books, and have enjoyed them all. This is the first I have read about philosophical Isabel. She is really quite a character. Her thoughts and actions require a LOT of words, yet, McCall Smith makes her quite likeable. Her version of the world is quite linear and staid, yet she contemplates all the nuances she encounters. To me she is somewhat socially inept--she overthinks everything with her views of ethics and philosophy. Her moral ground is quite high! McCall Smith's tongue in cheek accounts of Isabel's tendency to interfere in other people's lives when she sees what she considers an injustice appear to right her world. I enjoyed Isabel's and Jamie's love affair--despite being a "kept man", he does care deeply for her and the story allows for this. Observation of the human actions is McCall Smith's strength, and Isabel is a wonderful vehicle for him.

I hate to say that I didn’t finish the book. It just did not grab my attention. This just was not a book for me.

The relationship of Moral Proximity. This intriguing read is a study in the ethical dilemmas that we must face at every turn. Isabel Dalhousie, the philosopher, constantly introspects and deals with each situation that comes along, within the purview of the moral and ethical codes that we should be engaged with. While trying to make her life as a working woman and a mother of two kids, easier, Isabel engages an au pair and an assistant. Both have different codes of moral conduct which Isabel must come to terms with. Alexander McCall Smith has been one of my favourite authors ever since I read the first Ladies Detective story. He has not disappointed again.

The only other book I have read in the series is the first, The Sunday Philosophy Club. For some reason I didn't come back to the series. Reading this book reminded me that I like these characters. Smith's characters are gentle, intelligent, caring people. I enjoyed spending time with them. I’m not much into philosophy so the forays into the topic were not my favorite parts of the book but didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book either.

This, the 12th in the series of novels devoted to the constantly-philosophically musing and ruminating Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of the Applied Ethics, likely will find its biggest fans among those who have followed Isabel and her family and extended circle -- her niece Cat, her housekeeper, Grace; the dreadful Professor Lettuce, and even Brother Fox, the actual fox who trots through her extensive Edinburgh garden in the evenings -- in previous books. For those unaccustomed to the pacing and the way the way the "plot" tends to drift rather than move deliberately in a straightforward direction, this may well prove to be a frustrating introduction to Isabel and her world. For those who already have succumbed -- gladly or reluctantly -- to the somewhat quirky charms of her privileged existence (a delightful husband who adores her and who devotes himself to her, their children and his music; the above mentioned children; a somewhat oddball housekeeper who firmly believes in paranormal/psychic phenomena, etc.), this will be a welcome addition. Being able to escape to a world where someone's biggest problem is whether or not to hire an au pair, wrestling with the ability to say "no" and set limits on the demands made by one's niece on one's time, and (as usual for Isabel) trying to figure out how to involve oneself in someone else's life because it's the morally correct thing to do, is kind of refreshing when our real world problems feel somehow so much more insurmountable. And yet Isabel herself is an appealing character, too -- she has her values, but isn't priggish. These are my favorite of Alexander McCall Smith's books, precisely because of the glimpses into Edinburgh life that aren't as heavy handed and his characters never tip over into caricatures, as they do in the "Scotland Street" serial novels. These are the literary equivalent of a cup of good Earl Grey tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon; calming and peaceful. That said, it's hard to tell you anything that distinguishes this plot from the plot of another. Isabel always wrestles with ethical and moral dilemmas (the nature of which in this case would result in spoilers, except to say that they involve her son Charlie's friend, young Basil Phelps), and with a possible need to seek more help to manager her professional and household responsibilities. But nothing unfolds quite as she anticipates.

A very fun read and I can't wait to read more in this series.

I have read this series from the beginning and have enjoyed them all, including this one. I I do have to say that I found it a bit disturbing that the threat of violence and actual violence enters Isabel’s life. Maybe it is because I prefer hers to be a life of the mind primarily.

I must confess that I adore Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series. Truly. I savor each book as a special treat, and I was not disappointed for a moment with his latest title, The Quiet Side of Passion. Isabel Dalhousie is uniquely qualified as the Editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, since she is eternally weighing the ethical implications of situations that arise, small and large. Her internal monologue and dialogues with her nearly perfect husband Jamie are fascinating in their depth and application to daily life. Believe it or not, I was stunned in the past several days to hear my husband raising two separate dilemmas for conversation that I had actually just read presented in this book. As the author writes about Isabel, “You stumble across these odd little problems in people’s lives—-stuff that most of us stay well away from—-and you think it’s your duty to do something about them.” This book concerns the questionable identity of the father of a playmate of Isabel’s son, and Isabel’s quest to simplify her life for more time with her children by adding staff. I throughly enjoy reading the various dilemmas that Isabel encounters, and following her thought processes. It is totally intriguing reading. I recognize myself and others, and alternately smile and ponder. What a treat to read Alexander McCall Smith’s books! I anxiously await the next publication.

This was my first foray into Smith's books, but it won't be my last. Hilarious. Thoughtful. With well-developed characters. I'm looking forward to learning more about Isabel and applied ethics.

One of my favourite authors... well written a fun read that makes page turning a pleasure. Can’t wait for the next book.

I haven't read the rest of the series, but found the characters and the story engaging and thought provoking. Isabel's oft musings and going on tangents felt close to home. The complex and tangled relationships and the consequences of involvement in other people's lives and predicaments are handled with wit and neatly wrapped up. The debate whether to step up to remedy a situation is morally right or not to meddle in others affairs is always a difficult decision. Consequences may not always be considered for all parties concerned.. Enjoyable read by the author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency which is one of my favorite series. Recommend and will add this series to my ever-growing books to read list.


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