Another lovely book from the The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.
This is the fifth installment in the life of Mma Precious Ramotswe.
In this episode we are given more time in her private life and amongst the main characters.
McCall Smith’s writing is still soft and welcoming. It is like picking up a quiet conversation with an old friend. There is no drama, no hurry, and there is a companionable feeling to the whole reading process. I still find the main characters charming, and the reading completely effortless.
There are small moments of philosophy and profound comment scattered throughout the book. But for a Professor of Medical Law involved in bioethics, it shouldn’t really be surprising to find that the author has thought a lot about humanity and community values.
I have excerpted some passages I enjoyed below:
‘They almost didn’t believe that boy,’ said the cousin. ‘He was a boy who was always telling lies. But happily somebody decided to check.’
‘That boy will grow up to be a politician,’ said Mma Ramotswe. ‘That will be the best job for him.’
The cousin shrieked with laughter. ‘Yes, they are very good at lying. They are always promising us water for every house, but they never bring it. They say that there are not enough pipes. Maybe next year.’
The difficulty, of course, with standing up to women was that it appeared to make little difference. At the end of the day, a man was no match for a woman, especially if that woman was somebody like Mma Potokwani. The only thing to do was to try to avoid situations where women might corner you.
She had never been able to tolerate dishonesty, which she thought threatened the very heart of relationships between people. If you could not count on other people to mean what they said, or to do what they said they would do, then life could become utterly unpredictable. The fact that we could trust one another made it possible to undertake the simple tasks of life. Everything was based on trust, even day-to-day things like crossing the road – which required trust that the drivers of cars would be paying attention – to buying the food from a roadside vendor, whom you trusted not to poison you.
This is a great series of books for those who want to experience a bit of a difference in their choice of prose, but still be drawn in to the lives of the book’s characters. I took the first two of these to Fiji on my last holiday and absolutely romped through them in a couple of days. I was hooked.
If you are interested in reading the book cover excerpts, the author has a website here. When you decide to go ahead and try the series out, start at the beginning, it will make all the difference to your understanding.
My rating: 4 out of 5.