Top 74 Alexander McCall Smith Quotes

There was a distinction between lying and telling half-truths, but it was a very narrow one.


No plaque reminds the passer-by of these glories, although there should be one; for those who invent biscuits bring great pleasure to many.


Go to any small village anywhere in the world, and see what they remember. Everything. It’s all there — passed on like a precious piece of information, some secret imparted from one who knew to one who yearns to know. Taken good care of.


It is sometimes easier to be happy if you don’t know everything.


Do you realise that people die of boredom in London suburbs? It’s the second biggest cause of death amongs the English in general. Sheer boredom…


He smiled as he imagined the composite Jamie/Isabel, who would play the bassoon, read philosophy, interfere in other people’s affairs rather too much, drive a green Swedish car and make legendary potatoes Dauphinoise.


Mma Ramotswe tucked the cheque safely away in her bodice. Modern business methods were all very well, she thought, but when it came to the safeguarding of money there were some places which had yet to be bettered.


Has anyone sen Mr Snark ” “I saw him in the tunnel about 15 minutes ago.” “Oh no ” wailed Dr Ferman “he will have been atomised.” “Oh dear” muttered an MP. “Bye-election.


We all know that it is women who take the decisions, but we have to let men think that the decisions are theirs. It is an act of kindness on the part of women.


We shall change all that…because it is possible to change the world, if one is determined enough, and if one sees with sufficient clarity just what has to be changed.


Mr Mandela, who had given his whole life for justice and had never once thought of himself. How unlike these people were modern politicians, who thought only of power and tricks.


Human history seems to me to be one long story of people sweeping down—or up, I suppose—replacing other people in the process.


The ordinary people of Africa tended not to have room in their hearts for hatred. They were sometimes foolish, like people anywhere, but they did not bear grudges, as Mr Mandela had shown the world.


If she was going to remain an engaged lady, then she would make the most of it, and one of the ways to do this would be to enjoy her free time.


He evidently did not care that they were in full view of a cluster of dog-owners walking their dogs. He stopped and took her in his arms, kissing her passionately and urgently.


People don’t talk about mercy very much these days—it has a rather old-fashioned ring to it. but it exists and its power is quite extraordinary


…the world was a vale of tears—it always had been.


Mma Ramotswe reflected on how easy it was to find oneself committed to a course of action simply because one lacked the courage to say no.


Myth could be as sustaining as reality – sometimes even more so.


The recipe for each child is just for that child, even if it is the same mother and father.


A moral dilemma is equally absorbing whether the stakes are the destiny of nations or the happiness of one or two people – at the most.


But he’ll never be fully recognised, because Scots literature these days is all about complaining and moaning and being injured in one’s soul.


Perhaps trust had to be accompanied by a measure of common sense, and a hefty dose of realism about human nature. But that would need a lot of thinking about, and the tea break did not go on forever.


Can you forgive her? Can you do that?There was no response.Because if you can start to forgive, then it will become easier.And?And then you will be able to forgive yourself—and ask others to forgive you.


The language of Cat’s generation was far harder than that of her own, and more pithily correct: in their terms, he was a hunk. But why, she wondered, should anybody actually want a hunk, when non-hunks were so much more interesting?


Men are very sensitive, Mma Makutsi. You would not always think it to look at them, but they are. They do not like you to point out that they are wrong, even when they are. That is the way things are, Mma–it just is.


Boys, men,” she said. “They’re all the same. They think that this [their manhood] is something special and they’re all so proud of it. They do not know how ridiculous it is.


You should have seen him,” she said. “A real ladies’ man. Stuff in his hair. Dark glasses. Fancy shoes. He had no idea how funny he looked. I much prefer men with ordinary shoes and honest trousers.


If we let the men talk about them and decide them, then suddenly we wake up and find out that the men have made all the decisions, and these decisions all suit men.


Men, she thought, were odd about their clothes: they liked to wear the same things until they became defeated and threadbare.


He will be a small man inside,” said Mma Ramotswe. “He will feel small and unimportant. That is why he needs to put ladies down, Mma. Men who are big inside never feel the need to do that.


Men can be teenagers until well into their twenties. That is well known


International business, once allowed to stalk uncontrolled, killed the local, the small, the quirky.


. . . there was something that Isabel had said that always stuck in his mind. Remember what you have and the other person doesn’t. It was simple–almost too simple–advice and yet, like all such home advice, it expressed a profound truth.


If we treated others with the consideration that one would give to those who only had a few days to live, then we would be kinder, at least.


It was a voice that you felt you had to listen to—or you ignored at your peril.


To lose your own language was like forgetting your mother, and as sad, in a way.


There are many sadnesses in the hearts of men who are far away from their countries.


It’s because there are too many people who want to stop us having fun. That’s the reason.


We live in a culture of complaint because everyone is always looking for things to complain about. It’s all tied in with the desire to blame others for misfortunes and to get some form of compensation into the bargain.


It was always a mistake, she thought, to dwell on the cause of one’s anger.


We can’t have moral obligations to every single person in this world. We have moral obligations to those who we come up against, who enter into our moral space, so to speak. That means neighbors, people we deal with, and so on.


There is a tidal wave of ignorance, Mma Ramotswe. It is a great tidal wave and it will drown all of us if we are not careful.


It was a stark choice: shoes or food; beauty or sustenance; the sensible or the self-indulgent. “I’ll take the shoes,” she said firmly.


It is so easy to thank people,” said Mma Ramotswe, passing the letter over to Mma Makutsi, “and most people don’t bother to do it. They don’t thank the person who does something for them. They just take it for granted.


A traditional house smelled of wood smoke, the earth, and of thatch; all good smells, the smell of life itself.


I said to him that Zululand sounded fine, but that every man has a map in his heart of his own country and that the heart will never allow you to forget this map.


we must love those with whom we live and work, and love them for all their failings, manifest and manifold though they be.


What we have, we all must lose—that applied to everything, even to that which we thought we had the greatest right. We were tenants of this earth—nothing more.


And if you do see any pirates, I don’t want you to pick up any rough manners from them. Do you understand?


…there is faith and faith. One form of faith is actual practice—the rituals and so on—the other form of faith involves actually believing in it.


There was a great deal of progress being made, right under their noses, particularly in Africa, and this progress was good. Life was much harder for tyrants than it had been before.


Antonia was very conscious of the corrosive power of envy and felt that it was this emotion, more than any other, which lay behind human unhappiness. People did not realise how widespread envy was.


…it must be odd to have no ambition, not to want something more.


It is hard, she thought, it is hard for us to think of people who dislike us because none of us, in our heart, believes that we deserve the hatred of others.


It was curious how some people had a highly developed sense of guilt, she thought, while others had none.


She had not come to the shopping centre to buy shoes; she had come to buy food, and there was a big difference between shopping for food and shopping for shoes, and that difference concentrated on one word: guilt.


That was the trouble with people in general: they were surprisingly unrealistic in their expectations.


That of all people, it should be him; that took her aback. That the heart should settle on somebody like him; that surprised her. But she was so certain about it, so certain.


…the real poison within families is not the poison that you put in your food, but the poison that grows up in the heart when people are jealous of one another and cannot speak these feelings and drain out the poison that way.


The previously unloved may find it hard to believe that they are now loved; that is such a miracle, they feel; such a miracle.


Our stomachs live in towns,” said Mma Potokwani, patting the front of her dress. ‘That is where the work is. Our stomachs know that. But our hearts are usually somewhere else.


They sang that song which distills all the suffering and the hope of Africa; that song which had inspired and comforted so many, “Nkosi Sikeleli Afrika,” God Bless Africa, give her life, watch over her children.


She believed in getting as much use as possible from everything, and thought that as long as machinery, or anything else, could be cajoled into operation, it should be kept; to do otherwise, she thought, was wasteful.


The only thing that makes me sad is that I shall be leaving Africa when I die. I love Africa, which is my mother and my father. When I am dead, I shall miss the smell of Africa


Africa had a way of coming back and simply covering everything up again.


Anybody can lose,’ cautioned Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. ‘You need to remember that every time you win.


It was easy to make a difference to other people’s lives, so easy to change the little room in which people lived their life.


Tolerance was like one of those soothing creams—it drew out inflammation, it did away with the pain.


And then the second thing you have to do is go and see your son. That is a duty of love, Andrew. It’s as simple as that. A duty of love. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?


I shall go and sit under a tree…. Which tree, Mma?… Oh, there are many trees in this life, she said. It does not matter which tree you choose, as long as you choose the right one.


…one of those dreadful boarding schools. It was down on the South Coast. I think some very unpleasant things happened there…. So many lives were distorted by such cruelty. I know so many men who had to put up with that, so many….


This was a townscape raised in the teeth of cold winds from the east; a city of winding cobbled streets and haughty pillars; a city of dark nights and candlelight, and intellect.


It’s through the small things that we develop our moral imagination, so that we can understand the sufferings of others.



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