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The Full Cupboard of Life: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency [Paperback]

Alexander McCall Smith
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 25 2005 A Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Book for Young Readers
Here is the fifth novel in the internationally bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency hit series. Once again we are transported to Gaborone, capital city of Botswana, and into the world of Mma Ramotswe and her friends.


Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni are still engaged, but with no immediate plans to get married. Mma Ramotswe wonders when a wedding date will be named, but she is anxious to avoid putting pressure on her fiancé. For indeed he has other things on his mind -- particularly a frightening request (involving a parachute jump) made by Mma Potokwani, the persuasive matron of the orphan farm.

Mma Ramotswe herself has weighty matters on her mind. She has been approached by a wealthy lady to check up on several suitors. Are these men interested in her or just her money? This may be difficult to find out, but it’s just the kind of case Mma Ramotswe likes and she is, as we know, a very intuitive lady.

Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi -- plucky assistant detective and deputy manager of the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors garage -- is moving. Her entrepreneurial venture, the Kalahari Typing School for Men, is thriving and with this new income she has rented two rooms in a house. Her spare time is occupied with planning the move, the décor and her new life in a house with running water all to herself.

In the background of all this is Botswana, a country of empty spaces and echoing skies, a country so beautiful and entrancing that it breaks your heart. Mma Ramotswe has prepared the bush tea and is waiting for us to join her.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Full Cupboard of Life: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency + In the Company of Cheerful Ladies: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency + The Kalahari Typing School for Men: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Precious Ramotswe is on the case again in this delightful fifth installment in the bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, this time assisting the self-made founder of a chain of hairdressing salons who wants to unearth the real intentions of her four suitors, each possibly more interested in her money than her heart. As fans know, though, sleuthing takes second place to folksy storytelling in McCall Smith's wry novels. This time around, Mma Ramotswe is distracted by her long-prolonged engagement to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Gaborone's best mechanic; it seems she will never be married, despite her fiancé's honorable intentions. He installs an extra large seatbelt in her car to keep her safe (she is quite comfortable with her "traditional build," despite the new, slender fashion of modern woman), but an altercation with another mechanic and the prospect of a charity parachute jump keep his mind off matrimony. A drive for decency motivates Mma Ramotswe and her friends-among them Mma Potokwani, the imperious matron of the local orphan farm, and Mma Makutsi, assistant at the Ladies' Detective Agency and founder of the Kalahari Typing School for Men-and Smith's talent is in portraying this moral code in a manner that is always engaging. As readers will appreciate, Mma Ramotswe solves her cases-more questions of character, really, than of criminal behavior-in good time. Traditionally built ladies living in the African heat don't tend to hurry, and, at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, there's always time for another cup of tea.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–In this fifth installment about the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Mma Ramotswe and her assistant, Mma Makutsi, tackle the case of a wealthy woman who wants to know which of her suitors is only after her money. On a personal note, Mma Ramotswe worries over when her fiancé will set a date for their marriage, and more urgently, who will replace him in performing the parachute jump, a charity event to raise money for the Orphan Farm. The charm of this series set in Botswana is its wealth of very real characters. By Western standards they may be economically poor, but in terms of pride, love, and happiness, they are rich indeed. Readers will be seduced by the beauty of the land and intrigued by local customs. They will learn about drought and irrigation, about growing pumpkins, braiding hair, and dealing with poisonous snakes. The cases Mma Ramotswe handles are more about solving problems than crimes. Her behavior is governed by good manners, politeness, and honesty, and her favorite tool in the art of detecting is tea, preferably Bush Tea. The book has lots of humor, and optimism softens the tough realities of life. It also has a delightful surprise ending.–Sheila Janega, Fairfax County Public Library, Great Falls, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies continues the saga of Precious Ramotswe after her marriage to J.L.B. Matekoni at the end of The Full Cupboard of Life. Although nothing could have pleased her more than to finally become the wife of that good man, she finds many unexpected challenges in this book.

As the story opens, Precious is frustrated by the changes in Botswana from the good values of its past. She is discouraged to find out how hard it is to do the right thing when others don't. A woman scrapes another's car and drives off before Precious can write down her license plate number. Observing a theft in progress, she takes off in pursuit . . . only to be accosted by her waitress for attempted theft of her meal. The waitress then tries to extort money from Precious in exchange for not calling the police. You get the idea. It's been a tough afternoon.

Arriving home, Precious is puzzled. Things seem to have been moved. And whenever she lies down to rest, there's a strange sound. What could it be? Before long, that puzzle turns into an unexpected pair of trousers and a pumpkin. Whatever could be going on?

At the garage, J.L.B. Matekoni is overwhelmed with work. Charlie is acting up, and taking too much interest in an older woman who drives a Mercedes. What can they do about it?

While tailing Charlie and his lady friend in her white van, Precious is startled to see the two turn into J.L.B. Matekoni's house. In the process, she runs a cyclist off the road and his bicycle is broken. In this way, we are introduced to Mr Polopetsi who seems to be on his way to becoming a major figure in the series who initially divides his time between garage tidying and detective activities.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful read for a summer's day Feb. 22 2007
I don't read much fiction -- and mysteries, not at all-- so I had ignored earlier volumes in this series about Lady Detective Mme Ramotswe. Then I found "The Full Cupboard of Life" on a half-price sale & decided, since it was set in Africa, to give the author a try.

I'm so glad I did! What a delightful read for a hot summer day under a tree in the back yard. It also brought back happy memories of my travels in Africa. Since the focus is more on character & setting than on plot or mystery, it was especially enjoyable to me.

Now that I have made the acquaintance of Mme Ramotswe so late in the game, I am determined to get her life story straight by getting all the other books in the series and reading them in the correct order.

So much one hears of Africa is doom and gloom, hopelessness, poverty & war; it is a nice change to read about its people having what we westerners would consider a normal life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too much fun May 22 2006
This latest edition to the series is definitely worth the read. The travails of Mma Ramotswe are funny and charming and crazy. I love reading about the virtues of "traditionally built" women.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, Warm, Wonderful Characters May 26 2004
Format:Audio Cassette
I don't know how anyone could fail to love the Mma Ramotswe novels of Alexander McCall Smith. Mma Ramotswe and her fiancé, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, are such lovable people and Smith's writing is so fluid and beautiful that the books in this series really transcend the mystery genre. Of course, unlike most conventional mysteries, the Mma Ramotswe series concentrates more on character than it does on mystery and therein, I think, lies its enormous success.
In THE FULL CUPBOARD OF LIFE, Mma Ramotswe really only has one case: she's hired by a wealthy woman, who, like Mma Ramotswe, was blessed with girth rather than height, to investigate her five suitors, which Mma Ramotswe does in her typically humorous and no nonsense fashion. But that's just the spine of the story. Much more happens in the book and it's every bit as interesting as Mma Ramotswe's detective work.
If anyone has stayed away from this series of books because they're set in Botswana, they're making a huge mistake. These books portray the universality of human behavior, not their differences. And, they're filled with so much warmth and gentle humor it would, I think, take a cold-hearted person not to fall in love with the characters and want more.
Smith lavishes as much love and care on his secondary characters as he does on his primary ones, all to the book's credit. Mma Makutsi plays an enlarged role in this book, experiencing one heartbreaking event as well as one dream come true. Mma Potokwane is also featured as she contemplates writing a book and attempts to sort out the marriage plans of Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni.
THE FULL CUPBOARD OF LIFE is a warm, wise, witty book told with, above all, plenty of heart.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings On This One... May 12 2004
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
I give this novel a weak 4 stars. As an avid Precious Ramotswe fan this book was like a fast food version of the series I've grown to love. There were parts that made me laugh but I feel that the character development was a bit overdone this time around if there is such a thing. Precious didn't seem to be at the center of the book. The book felt rushed. I just knew that the something I was missing would come and it never did. Nice ending but it didn't make up for other things I was missing. I love Precious for her outlook on life as a woman and as a black African. That Mr. McCall Smith is able to capture this is nothing short of amazing. However, this time around I felt Precious' words and those around her were forced. The beauty of the previous books has been on solving mysteries with compassion, common sense, and a deep love for the surrounding country of Botswana. I didn't get a feel for the mystery part of the equation this time around. There was only one mystery that seemed thrown in for good measure and then not even really solved. I know it's hard for an outhor to constantly live up to making each book better than the last but I have a favor to ask of Mr. McCall Smith. Please let Precious and all of her supporting cast do what they do best--be themselves. Many of us feel like we know this woman and all those that surround her so please bring her back to her natural element---being the No. 1 Ladies Detective that Botswana has to offer. I don't consider this a bad book but would only recommend it if you've already enjoyed the previous books, then you can overlook this tiny stumble. I'm very hopeful for the next book in this series.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars These characters feel like family. I enjoyed it immensely
Another delightful visit with the residents of Gabarone and surrounding villages. These characters feel like family. I enjoyed it immensely.
Published 1 month ago by dragonworks
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
An entertaining read though not as entertaining as the previous novels. Dwelling more on character building, it will certainly serve to build on further stories in the series. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Peter Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars In the company of a good book
Normally one to stick with a bestseller that EVERYONE is reading---you know the books I'm talking about---DA VINCI CODE by Brown or McCrae's KATZENJAMMER, I instead opted for this... Read more
Published on June 27 2006 by Avid Reader (who isn't?)
5.0 out of 5 stars cheerful indeed
This book is guaranteed to make you feel cheerful. The lead characters are delightfully human and the plot moves at an amiable, always interesting place. Read more
Published on March 23 2006 by faithful reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubled by one part
Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I did the other four -- the pace, the writing, the gentleness of the characters were all wonderful-- I was troubled by one central... Read more
Published on May 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars WIT AND WISDOM ON EVERY PAGE
Life is good. Precious Ramotswe is back. Of traditional build and generous heart she's the indefatigable, irresistible proprietress of Botswana's No. Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by Gail Cooke
4.0 out of 5 stars People Are People All Over The World
In Smith's 5th book in the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series, he again concentrates on many of his recurring themes. Read more
Published on May 2 2004 by Jon Linden
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