The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie Series) (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Badge
The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie Series) Cover Image
Special Order - Subject to Availability

Staff Reviews

Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher residing in Edinburgh with her husband and young son.  She is trying to lead a mindful life, considering her choices and their impact on others.  If you are looking for a high body count or lots of action, this is not the series.  Nor does it have the humor of McCall Smith’s series set in Africa.   I thoroughly enjoy the Isabel Dalhousie stories because they take me to a place where people think about their actions and are conscious of potential consequences to themselves and others.  It is a comforting place to go, quietly contemplative.  Isabel does not always make the right choice, or at least not the choice I would have selected, but she reflects on her actions and tries.  In this entry to the series Isabel’s friend asks her to aid a young mother who is having difficulty with her child.  The woman’s son announced that he lived a past life, used to have another family, and lived in another house, in a totally different part of Scotland. The boy gives vivid descriptions of the house, landscape, and the view.  Asked to investigate if such a house exists, Isabel and her husband, Jamie, take a road trip.  It is an intriguing situation with many possible outcomes, quite interesting to see where it leads.  While Isabel is involved in checking into the boy’s memories she has other issues on her mind too.  Her niece is involved in a new romance; her niece has a decidedly spotty record on picking men, so Isabel worries.  A man she regards as an enemy of sorts shows up, with plans that may have an impact for her.  This is another facet of the Isabel Dalhousie series I enjoy, she is always involved with life, engaged and trying to do her best to live the moment and live it kindly.

— Deon Stonehouse


The insatiably curious Edinburgh philosopher and amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie returns, taking on a case unlike any she’s had before—this one with paranormal implications—in the eagerly anticipated new installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s beloved and best-selling series.
Through a mutual acquaintance, Isabel is introduced to a six-year-old boy who has been experiencing vivid recollections of a past life, which include a perfect description of an island off the coast of Scotland and a house on the island where he claims to have lived. When the boy’s mother asks Isabel to investigate, Isabel naturally feels inclined to help, and so she, her husband, Jamie, and their son, Charlie, set off for the island. To their great surprise, they actually locate the house that the boy described, which leads to more complicated questions, as Isabel’s desire to find rational explanations comes up against the uncanny mystery unfolding before her. It’s an extraordinarily delicate situation that will require all of her skills, as both sleuth and philosopher, to solve.
Back home, as she begins to prepare the next issue of the Review of Applied Ethics, Isabel confronts a threat to her professional well-being in the form of two visiting academics—Lettuce and Dove—who she fears will be a destabilizing influence on her cozy perch in enlightened Edinburgh.
But no matter the trials she faces, Isabel is blissfully content in her personal life, which is centered on her young son and devoted husband. Readers will be filled with happiness as they once again spend time with their beloved heroine and the people she holds dear.

About the Author

ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH is the author of the 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 professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served with many national and international organizations concerned with bioethics. He lives in Scotland.

Praise For…

“Isabel Dalhousie’s satisfying return. . . . Edinburgh’s favorite philosopher/sleuth is back, this time helping a frantic mom whose son keeps talking about his previous life. Plot twists keep you reading (maybe the boy’s claims aren’t so crazy after all . . .), but it’s Isabel’s musings on duty and parenthood that linger.” —People Magazine

“A stimulating thinking-person’s read, seeming light on the surface but actually going deep. . . . This is a love story. Not the conventional kind, a boy-meets-girl romance; rather, it’s a novel about love—love of life, love of home and homeland, love of partner and family, love of fellow humans.” —New York Journal of Books
“Isabel Dalhousie philosophizes the way some people drink. There is nothing that she won’t contemplate, analyze or nitpick, from meerkats in the zoo to the difference between a good submarine (the crew doesn’t swear or drink) and a bad submarine which of course must be nuclear.” —The Washington Times
“No writer makes the philosophical life as inviting and cozy as McCall Smith does in his episodic novels featuring Isabel Dalhousie. . . . The real substance of this charming series lies in Isabel’s thoughtful observations dn the interactions among a large cast of characters.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for the Isabel Dalhousie series
“Isabel Dalhousie is a force to be reckoned with.” —USA Today
“The literary equivalent of herbal tea and a cozy fire . . . Invites readers into a world of kindness, gentility and creature comforts . . . McCall Smith’s Scotland is well worth future visits.” —The New York Times
“Isabel Dalhousie is such good company, it’s hard to believe she’s fictional. You finish [each] installment greedily looking forward to more.” —Newsweek
“A world where humor is gentle, suffering is acknowledged but not foregrounded and efforts to do good are usually rewarded. It’s a wonderful place to visit, even if we don’t get to live there.” —The Washington Post
Product Details
ISBN: 9780307907356
ISBN-10: 030790735X
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: July 21st, 2015
Pages: 272
Language: English
Series: Isabel Dalhousie Series