Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds – Alexander McCall Smith

I’ve been meaning to talk to you about Alexander McCall Smith for a long time, but since I haven’t been able to hear my own thoughts for the last three months, it was kind of out of the question.  However, all three (the baby too!) children started school yesterday, and it is actually quiet here.  I feel strangely adrift, still getting my bearings.  I haven’t been alone for almost nine years.

Yesterday I was a little down, a little emotional – I’m not really a crier about things like this, but it’s quite something to leave your last baby at kindergarten and wave goodbye.  So yesterday I was a bit out of sorts.

Today, however.  Today I went to not one, but two yoga classes – one on a whim!  SPONTANEITY!  Then made an (unplanned) trip to the grocery store to get fixings for a lunch just for me.  Just because I felt like it.  And now I’m shopping for fabric online and all of a sudden, I’m like, WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH ME YESTERDAY? 

This is amazing, people. 

The house is quiet, and I’m calm, which is a sensation to which I was previously unaccustomed.  I am actually, at this moment, living in a day free of chaos. 

(That is, for one more blessed hour, until my darlings come home.)

(Did I just totally jinx my afternoon?  Probably.)

Anyway, in the meantime, no profound words of wisdom today, only a recommendation to read McCall Smith.  I just finished The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, which is the ninth novel in his Isabel Dalhousie series, so I wouldn’t start there.  Start at the beginning of any one of his series and let yourself wind your way through them.  They are such a treat.

Although McCall Smith is probably best-known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books (which are also wonderful), my personal favorites are the Isabel novels.  Set in drizzly Edinburgh, they are easy reads, and honestly, not a lot actually happens.  These aren’t gripping page turners.  Characters drink a lot of tea, and answer letters, and play the piano.  They have coffee at the delicatessen.  But Isabel and Jamie (and company) are so loveable, and the author treats them with such tenderness…it’s just a joy to read a good book about good people doing honest, admirable things, sometimes.  (Although I do love Breaking Bad, don’t get me wrong.) 

The Isabel novels are the literary equivalent of a cozy quilt, a rainy day, and a mug of hot cocoa by the fire.  They are relaxed and funny and gentle.  They are happy-making.  Enjoy.

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