Apparently a sequel, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate is the stereotypical Alexander McCall Smith novel – not much happens, but it’s an enjoyable read all the same.
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate follows Scottish philosopher Isabel Dalhousie as she faces some of the greatest ethical questions of her life. Should Isabel make a move on Jamie, who, despite being her niece’s ex-boyfriend, and 15 years her junior, she has an immense crush on? Should she investigate the organ donation that has left newfound friend Ian with a (literally) new lease on life, but a burning desire to say thank you? Or should she just do what we all want to do – have a glass of wine, some chocolate and a bit of naughty fun?
Alexander McCall Smith is a lovely writer – there is really no other way I can think to describe him. His books are simple, pleasurable and exactly the type of thing that one wants when the weather is terrible outside. Granted, here in Australia we’re in the height of summer and the weather has been 35 degrees every day, plus I don’t ACTUALLY live in a house with an open fireplace, but that’s the good thing about reading, right? You can just use your imagination and transport yourself there! There, being Edinburgh in this case.
All of the characters in Friends, Lovers, Chocolate are lovely, if somewhat two-dimensional, Isabel included. The plot is scarily thin, and although a series of semi-plots start to develop, they don’t really come to any conclusion. What happens with Isabel and Jamie? What about Isabel and that hunky, if misogynistic, Italian? Will Isabel release an issue of her magazine that deals specifically with ethics and food? Even the main plot, that of Ian and his belief that cellular memory can occur in the heart has a somewhat lacklustre, and all too practical, conclusion.
Basically, what I’m saying is don’t pick this book up if you want anything of, well, substance. Despite being a hybrid of romance, philosophy and mystery, it will fail to deliver on all counts. However, if you want a book that’s easy to read, uncomplicated and not at all stressful, then I would recommend Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, a book that can easily be read in an afternoon.
Have you read Friends, Lovers, Chocolate? Are you a fan of Alexander McCall Smith? Let me know!