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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Portuguese Irregular Verbs (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #1) by Alexander McCall Smith

Portuguese Irregular Verbs

Readers who fell in love with Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, now have new cause for celebration in the protagonist of these three light-footed comic novels by Alexander McCall Smith. Welcome to the insane and rarified world of Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of the Institute of Romance Philology. Von Igelfeld is engaged in a never-ending quest to win the respect he feels certain he is due–a quest which has the tendency to go hilariously astray.

In Portuguese Irregular Verbs, Professor Dr von Igelfeld learns to play tennis, and forces a college chum to enter into a duel that results in a nipped nose. He also takes a field trip to Ireland where he becomes acquainted with the rich world of archaic Irishisms, and he develops an aching infatuation with a Dentist fatale. Along the way, he takes two ill-fated Italian sojourns, the first merely uncomfortable, the second definitely dangerous.
Summary taken from
Length: 128 pages (Paperback)
Source: Toronto Public Library
Publication Date: August 4th 2004

Last spring I attempted to read this book because I love Alexander McCall Smith's bestselling series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and since I had read all of the books in the series at the time I was looking for a quick fix for his writing. Unfortunately the first time I tried reading this I gave up 20 pages in. Then, a couple weeks ago I decided to give this another go and liked it much better the second time around.

Those who are interested in reading this be advised that it is written very differently from his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and it will take some getting some getting used to. Even though I liked this one more this time around I still had my share of trouble keeping focus on it.

The book itself follows the main character Dr. von Igfeld on his many journeys and experiences which were mildly amusing. When I first started reading it the book made very little sense to me, it felt as if Smith were trying to hard to replicate the style of writing used pre 1900 in a lot of ways and for me it came off very flawed and forced, but as the book progressed I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. I thought Igfeld was an interesting character and I enjoyed reading about his varying opinions of the things in his world. He's a quirky man but one who intrigues me enough to try the second book.

It was a quick and easy read that was certainly very different from anything else that I've ever read and I mean that in a good way and a bad way. Good, because I enjoy reading new things and bad because I was frequently lost and confused but the whole book had one special redeeming quality and that was Smith's characteristic "cozy" feeling that I get when I read his book. I found it to be an interesting read and one series that I do plan on reading the second book in the near future but if that book isn't any better than this one  I'll have to write this series off as one that is not for me.

I would recommend this to people interested in trying this author out since it is a short book and for those who have read some of his other books before, but I urge you to go in with an open mind and to give it a shot.

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★ ★ ★


  1. I had no idea this was what you were reading the other week on facebook..LOL I thought it was an actual book on irregular verbs *falls of chair laughing* I actual read one of the #1 LDA. but i think i will pass on this one..great review!

  2. I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

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