Review: Alexander McCall Smith’s A Distant View of Everything

I don’t normally review books I’ve read but, with Alexander McCall Smith’s latest offering in his Isabel Dalhousie series garnering so many glowing 4-star and 5-star tributes on Amazon and Goodreads, I feel it incumbent on me to raise a dissenting voice. So here’s a slightly expanded version of my 1-star Amazon review:

SPOILER ALERT: STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK WHERE NOTHING HAPPENS. How does Alexander McCall Smith get away with writing such dross? There are three main storylines in this book. Philosopher Isabel Dalhousie suspects a plastic surgeon is a gold-digger preying on vulnerable women — but it turns out he isn’t. She also suspects her niece Cat may be a closet lesbian — but it turns out she isn’t. And Isabel’s husband Jamie thinks he may have gout — but it turns out he doesn’t. That’s it! Isabel and Jamie are insufferably smug and middle-class and the entire book is a piece of pointless sanctimonious flim-flam padded out with Isabel’s (ie McCall Smith’s) tedious tangential observations about a variety of uninteresting subjects. The characters are as two-dimensional as Lowry’s matchstick men and women and the dialogue is just an excuse to shoehorn in whatever vapid thoughts happen to be circulating in McCall Smith’s richly-rewarded brain as he sits at his computer. No wonder he’s written over 80 books, he must have knocked this one off in a weekend. What a waste of perfectly good paper.

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