cover image The Charming Quirks of Others

The Charming Quirks of Others

Alexander McCall Smith, Pantheon, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-307-37917-7

While Smith’s seventh novel featuring Scottish philosopher and woman of means Isabel Dalhousie (after The Lost Art of Gratitude) doesn’t break new ground, the author’s many fans will be more than satisfied to follow the small events of Isabel’s life, in particular her struggle to come to terms with her own imperfections. Much to Isabel’s dismay, Prue, a cellist with a terminal illness who’s a professional colleague of her bassoonist fiancé, Jamie, has been making ever greater demands on the good-natured Jamie. An angry Isabel eventually accuses Jamie of sleeping with Prue. Meanwhile, Isabel agrees to dig into the background of three candidates for headmaster at an Edinburgh boys’ school after an anonymous letter claims that one of them has a skeleton in his closet. If chance more than a logical strategy leads Isabel to resolve this issue, her investigation leads her to valuable insights into human nature. As usual, crisp, often funny prose complements the author’s limitless reserve of good will and understanding of people in general. (Oct.)