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The Forgotten Affairs of Youth

Cover of The Forgotten Affairs of Youth

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth

Isabel Dalhousie Series, Book 8
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ISABEL DALHOUSIE - Book 8 Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective. Whether...More
ISABEL DALHOUSIE - Book 8 Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective. Whether...More
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  • ISABEL DALHOUSIE - Book 8

    Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective. Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction's most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answers to all of life's questions, large and small.

    In this latest installment of the beloved Isabel Dalhousie series, our inquisitive heroine helps a new friend discover the identity of her father.

    Isabel and her fiancé know who they are and where they come from. But not everybody is so fortunate. Jane Cooper, a visiting Australian philosopher on sabbatical in Edinburgh, has more questions than answers. Adopted at birth, Jane is trying to find her biological father, but all she knows about him is that he was a student in Edinburgh years ago. When she asks for Isabel's help in this seemingly impossible search . . . well, of course Isabel obliges.

    But Isabel also manages to find time for her own concerns: her young son, Charlie, already walking and talking; her housekeeper, Grace, whose spiritualist has lately been doubling as a financial advisor; her niece Cat's latest relationship; and the pressing question of when and how Isabel and Jamie should finally get married.

    Should the forgotten affairs of youth be left in the past, or can the memories help us understand the present? In her inimitable way, Isabel leads us to a new understanding of the meaning of family.



    From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Since Charlie had started going to his playgroup, the morn­ings had become even shorter, as he had to be fetched shortly after noon, and it took ten minutes to get him back and another ten minutes to get him changed out of his morning clothes; by this time, he would be covered in finger paint, crumbs, pieces of a curious modelling substance much approved of by the play­group authorities, grains of sand from the sandpit and, very occasionally, what looked like specks of blood. Boys, it seemed to Isabel, were magnets for dirt and detritus, and the only solu­tion, if one were wanted, was frequent changes of clothing. Or one could throw up one's hands and allow them to get dirtier through the day and then hose them down--metaphorically, of course--in the early evening.

    Isabel opted to change Charlie, and so his morning clothes, once abandoned, were replaced with afternoon clothes. She decided that she rather liked the idea of having afternoon clothes, even if one were not a two-year-old. Changing into one's afternoon clothes could become something of a ritual, rather like changing for dinner--which so few people did any more. And the afternoon clothes themselves could be the sub­ject of deliberation and chosen with care; they would be more loose-fitting than one's morning clothes, more autumnal in shade, perhaps--clothes that would reflect the lengthening of shadows and sit well with the subtle change in light that comes after three; russet clothes, comfortable linen, loose-fitting col­lars and sleeves.

    "You thinking?"

    It was Isabel's housekeeper, Grace. She had worked in the house when Isabel's father was still alive, and had been kept on by Isabel. It would have been impossible to ask Grace to leave--even if Isabel had wanted to do so; she came with the house and had naturally assumed that the house could not be run without her. Isabel had felt vaguely apologetic about having a housekeeper--it seemed such an extravagant, privileged thing to do, but a discussion with her friend, Peter Stevenson, had helped.

    "What good would it do if you were to stop that particular item of expenditure?" Peter said. "All it would mean was that Grace would be out of a job. What would it achieve?"

    "But I feel embarrassed," said Isabel. "Somebody of my age doesn't need a housekeeper. People will think I'm lazy."

    Peter was too perceptive to swallow that. "That's not it, is it? What's worrying you is that people will think that you're well-off, which you are. So why not just accept it? You use your money generously--I know that. Carry on like that and forget what you imagine people think about you. It's not an actual sin to have money. The sin exists in using it selfishly, which you don't."

    "Oh well," said Isabel.

    "Exactly."

    Now Grace stood in the doorway of Isabel's workroom, a bucket in hand, on her way to performing the daily chore of washing down the Victorian encaustic-tile floor in the entrance hall. Isabel was not sure that this floor had to be washed every day, but Grace had always done it and would have resisted any suggestion that she change her routine.

    Now Grace's question hung in the air. She often asked Isabel whether she was thinking; it was almost an accusation.

    "I suppose I am thinking. But not about work, I must admit." Isabel, who was seated at her desk, gave a despairing glance at the piles of paper before her. "I'm afraid that I've accomplished very little this morning."

    "Me too," said Grace. "I've done none of the ironing yet, I'm afraid. All those shirts of Jamie's."

    "Leave them," said Isabel. "Jamie can iron them himself. It's very...

About the Author-
  • Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the beloved bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street series, and the Corduroy Mansions series. He is also the author of numerous children's books. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh and has served on many national and international organizations concerned with bioethics. He was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He lives in Scotland. Visit his website at www.alexandermccallsmith.com.



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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Isabel Dalhousie Series, Book 8
Alexander McCall Smith
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