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Alexander McCall Smith

Portuguese irregular verbs

Portuguese irregular verbs is Alexander McCall Smith's story of Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, a German professor of philology, and of the mishaps he and his colleagues encounter in their lives.

Professor von Igelfeld has written a book - strangely enough with the title Portuguese irregular verbs - but this is a thick tome, the definitive work on the subject. But somehow he never seems to get the credit his work deserves. von Igelfeld and his colleagues lead sheltered lives - when they decide to play tennis their only knowledge of how to play comes from an old book of rules - with predictably amusing results. The last chapter is a strange reflection of Mann's Death in Venice, but I didn't quite see the point of this.

The book is somewhat different to the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series - I felt that that it was more one-dimensional. But that isn't really a criticism, it really depends on what you feel like reading. McCall Smith avoids a descent into farce, which I feel might have been von Igelfeld's fate in the hands of a lesser author. Hence I certainly intend to read more of the von Igelfeld series of books.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews