The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith
This is my favorite book of all Alexander McCall Smith's and it is for one huge reason...the poem at the end. While the book is very entertaining and Isabel has numerous situations which cause her to work through various moral dilemmas; her insecurities about Jamie, what to do with the obnoxious Professor Dove, and especially the possibly amoral Minty Auchterlonie, the book is always more about then people than the plot. Minty approaches Isabel to help her resolve two connected issues and Isabel reluctantly agrees to help, but finds herself being used by Minty to further her own schemes. Somehow, she manages to work good in the lives of the victims instead of the evil left from Minty.
Her niece, Cat, has found a new boyfriend and this is possibly the worst of all. He is a tightrope walker and stuntman and Jamie and Isabel can only shake their heads and get ready to hold up Cat when the end comes, as they pray that it will. I am always inspired by the way Isabel finds to see beyond Cat's thorniness and love her. I can almost see Cat 20 years in the future finally realizing that it was her aunt's abiding love which remained constant through the angst of her struggle for maturity.
All of this leads to the end of the book where Jamie puts to music one of the most moving poems I have read in ages.
What we lose, we think we lose forever,
But we are wrong about this, think of love –
Love is lost, we think it gone,
But it returns, often when least expected,
Forgives us our lack of attention, our failure of
Our cold indifference; forgives us all of this, and more;
Returns and says, “I was always there.”
Love, at our shoulder, whispers: Merely remember me,
Don’t think I’ve gone away for ever:
I am still here. With you. My power undimmed.
See. I am here.”
I was listening to the audio book and I could just hear God at my shoulder saying those words and I found myself playing them over and over. I read that the handwritten poem was sold at a charity auction and felt that if I had a lot of money, I surely would have bid on it, even to the point of sacrifice.
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