A Distant View of Everything

A Distant View of Everything 1

An Isabel Dalhousie Novel

by Alexander McCall Smith

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 28/03/2017

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews

The latest novel in Alexander McCall Smith's much-loved Isabel Dalhousie series.

Isabel Dalhousie now has a second child another boy, Magnus. He comes home with her at the beginning of the book and she discovers that Charlie is far from thrilled. He sees no need for a new baby.

In Cat's delicatessen, Isabel meets a woman with whom she had been at school. This woman, Bea Shand, is known as an enthusiastic match-maker. She is very worried, though, as she has introduced a woman she knows to a plastic surgeon who is now described by another friend as a gold-digger. This other friend reveals that the surgeon has a bad track record: he has been involved with a series of well-off women and has succeeded in separating a number of then from their money. Bea asks Isabel to investigate; she herself tried to warn her friend of the danger she was in but was rebuffed badly.

Isabel starts to make enquiries. At first the pattern that emerges confirms her friend's dire diagnosis, but as things develop it emerges that not only is the surgeon innocent, but he himself is the one in danger!

In the meantime, as a sub-plot, Isabel finds that the man who warned her of the surgeon's proclivities, is taking an interest in her (Isabel). He appears to be smitten by her; she tries to get away from him but discovers that she has inadvertently given Jamie grounds to believe that she (Isabel) is having an affair. This is awkward, but is resolved satisfactorily.

Her final conclusion: match-make at one's peril. Never tell people half-truths for paternalistic reasons. Mind your own business (a lesson that Isabel never seems to learn).

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Little, Brown Book Group Limited
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty languages and become bestsellers through the world.

The series include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Sunday Philosophy Club series starring Isabel Dalhousie, the von Igelfeld series, and the new Corduroy Mansions novels. Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children.

He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America.

Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

Click 'Notify Me' to get an email alert when this item becomes available

Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • A delightful read, as always.

    by on

    “… it really was rude to allow oneself to daydream while somebody was talking to you. In a way, it was every bit as discourteous as taking a telephone call while engaged in conversation with another, or closing one’s eyes and drifting off to sleep in a concert in full view of a performer. And yet, how did you prevent thoughts coming into your mind? And once they were there, how did you stop yourself from entertaining them?”

    A Distant View Of Everything is the eleventh novel in the Isabel Dalhousie series by popular British author, Alexander McCall Smith. Editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, Isabel Dalhousie is now an even busier woman: mother to three-month-old Magnus (whose four-year-old brother, Charlie is less than impressed by his existence), another edition of the journal waiting for input on her desk, and she finds herself yet again cajoled into helping a friend solve a dilemma.

    Bea Shannon, an old friend from school whose matchmaking skills are legendary in Edinburgh, has misgivings about an introduction she has made: is plastic surgeon, Tony MacUpsaig actually more interested in relieving Connie Macdonald of her money than in a genuine relationship? Is he, as has been suggested, a serial gold-digger? As if this is not enough distraction, it seems Jamie has something important he’s not telling her.

    This tenth instalment of Edinburgh’s favourite philosopher sees Isabel musing on population growth, moral proximity, the keeping of promises, the relationship of floor space to social position, the fate of statues of famous people fallen from grace, selfie protocols, social media mores, the privilege of being alive, and having a conscience: “The trouble with having a conscience, she said to herself, is that it never sleeps”

    Isabel continues to appreciate her husband, but sometimes fears for her good fortune: “That was the problem with things that were exactly as you wished them to be; that was the problem if you found yourself in Eden – there was a snake in the garden”, even if she is sometimes mystified “… the key to understanding men, a friend had once said to her, is to remember that the boundaries between the man and the boy within were often blurred, and not every woman knew where they were”.

    As always, McCall Smith includes plenty of gentle philosophy and an abundance of wisdom: “Anybody who coins an aphorism tends to regret it – because it gets quoted back at him ad infinitum and is inevitably misunderstood” and “… the judgement of others was often more about them than the ones they were judging” are examples. Isabel’s reflections often bring a smile to the face, and her banter with Jamie and her friends provide some laugh-out-loud moments. A delightful read, as always.