At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances

Published August 18, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of At the Villa of Reduced Circumstance by Alexander McCall Smith

Overview from In At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, Professor Dr. von Igelfeld gets caught up in a nasty case of academic intrigue while on sabbatical at Cambridge. When he returns to Regensburg he is confronted with the thrilling news that someone from a foreign embassy has actually checked his masterwork, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, out of the Institute’s Library. As a result, he gets caught up in intrigue of a different sort on a visit to Bogota, Colombia.

My Review:

The third installment of the adventures of Professor Dr. von Ingelfeld didn’t live up to my expectation. I loved the first two novellas, though the second one was my favorite, and thought that the laughs could only increase as Alexander McCall Smith’s series seemed to get better with each attempt.

However, I was wrong. The story was still good and somewhat humorous but not as good as I had hoped. I found myself laughing less than I had when I was reading the last book in fact. Von Ingelfeld’s thoughts seemed to make more sense to be this time around. Is this a sign that he is maturing? Or maybe that the jokes aren’t funny? I don’t know really.

The page number length is the same but there are only two chapters in this book and they are equally divided. This puts them at about 50 pages each.

The first half covers von Ingelfeld’s visit to England where he laments that the English are nothing like the Germans. This was the part that seemed particularly serious except for our main characters interactions with a visiting American opera professor. His return to Germany did show a little of the old von Ingelfeld when he attempts to prove that his nemesis Unterholzer was using his office while he was gone.

The second half though was the most interesting by far. His visit to Columbia for some honor bestowed upon him by another linguistic society ends with a surprising result. It was almost a little ridiculous but also funny.

The author’s website states that his fourth installment for this series will be released in December. I hope it will be funnier than this one and a little more believable. On the cover there was a picture of a “sausage dog” with something akin to a wheelbarrow attached to him. This could be a reference to the dog mentioned in the second novella in which case there might be hope for this series yet. I am anxious to find out.

For now, I suggest you read this one only so that it will be easier to follow any future story lines. Also, maybe you will like it better than I did. If you do, let me know. It is possible that some of the jokes went over my head.


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