The Geometry of Holding Hands
By Alexander McCall Smith
Rated: 5 stars *****
Part of the Dalhousie series, set in Edinburgh, The Geometry of Holding Hands is rather sweet in the love portrayed in the relationship between Isabelle and Jamie, her husband. The Geometry of Hands is explained at the end, but throughout the book it shows the largeness and complexities of life as well as a kindness for others.
Read on to find the blurb and full review.
Isabel finds herself entangled in some tricky familial and financial situations that will require all of her kindness, charm, and philosophical expertise to navigate.
Just when Isabel and Jamie finally seem to have some time to connect and unwind, a wealthy Edinburgh resident reaches out to Isabel with an unusual request—he would like her to become the executor of his large Highland estate. Though Isabel initially demurs, he presses on. He has only a short time to live, and, without any direct heirs, is struggling to determine which of his three cousins would be the best caretaker. Should it go to the bohemian artist, the savvy city property developer, or the quiet, unassuming bachelor?
As if this weren’t enough to keep Isabel occupied, she’s also spending more time helping her niece Cat at the deli. Cat, perennially unlucky in love, seems to have finally found her match in the leonine Leo. But Isabel is beginning to suspect that Leo might be interested in more than Cat’s charms, namely her access to the family trust. Isabel will need to rely upon remarkable reserves of intelligence and compassion in order to give all parties exactly what they want and deserve—no more, and no less.
The Geometry of Holding Hands is the latest charming book in the Philosophy Club/Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith.
Isabelle, her husband Jamie and young son – Magnus create a charming family and possess some natural wit. It’s also as intelligent and philosophical as ever as they contemplate the poet Wilfred Owen. There is also some contemplation over money matters and their employment too, with Jamie earning a bit from being a musician/music teacher and Isabelle being the editor of the Review, dealing with many authors. All the sudden angst and wondering if they really deserve the nice things in life, begins with them going to a fancy restaurant – Casa Trimalchio. Alexander McCall Smith captures this part of the “human condition” very well and so naturally for his characters. Even though they clearly have money to do the nice treats in life, these characters are always ones that are relatable, whatever your standing in society is and are easy to feel compassion for. This is testament to the writing and thought that goes into it.
There is plenty for readers to contemplate in this book and ponder over, such as the army and also letting people live however they see fit. It’s all done in a philosophical, gentle way.
Casa Trimalchio is an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh where everyone with a “name” for themselves, seems to go and you never know who you may be sitting in the company of, including people caught up or have caused quite a scandal.
Balancing home-life, the job at the Review and Cat’s needs becomes more complex for Isabelle. When Cat and Leo’s lives become even more entangled it strains things even more complicated and then there’s Eddie in the equation too. Isabelle begins to wonder about where boundaries should be drawn without upsetting anyone.
Isabelle and Cat both have a trust that has helped Cat set up her delicatessen, whom she helps out at times of necessity, whether she really has the time to or not. I like that level of kindness that is displayed within her character. It’s a lovely sounding deli with its charcuterie etc, where she encounters Iain Melrose whom she saw in the restaurant. He’s impressed by things she did and said in the restaurant as she shown some integrity and morals and also a sign of a certain courage and strength of character. Isabelle is a character that is so well-developed in a positive, caring way which is enjoyable to read. Iain Melrose is an interesting character to explore and lived quite a life and it is explained why he is looking for someone who seems right to become executer of the estate. The estate he describes has quite a history to it. McCall Smith ensures that readers really can understand the nature of an event or circumstance and the characters presented within them in good detail, without over-doing it. He treads this fine-line well and keeps a relaxed pace. The fact that characters don’t have a continuous strict linear line from one philosophical thought or event to the next keeps the flow feeling natural and smooth. There is also a strong thread of plotline maintained throughout it.