Here are some of the things that make us smile: the sight of a beautiful baby, a glorious spring day, a sincere compliment, and a new installment, "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party," in Alexander McCall Smith's wonderful series featuring Precious Ramotswe. The "traditionally built" Mma Ramotswe is happily married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and along with her associate, the bespectacled and highly efficient Grace Makutsi, contentedly operates the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone. Little has changed, except that the date of Grace's wedding to Mr. Phuti Radiphuti is drawing near. The bride has a great deal to do to get ready for this momentous event.
Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has never quite gotten over the loss of her beloved little white van. Although she is now driving a new blue van, she cannot help but remember that her original vehicle was a treasured companion with its own unique personality. One day, she is shocked to see someone else driving her little white van. Surely she is imagining things, since no less a mechanic than her husband had declared that to restore the white van would require a "miracle-worker." Another matter preoccupying Mma Ramotswe is a case involving the destruction of cattle belonging to her new client, Mr. Botsalo Moeti. In Botswana, where cattle are greatly valued, this is a serious crime. Who could hate Mr. Moeti enough to commit such a foul deed? In addition, Charlie, the ne'er-do-well perpetual apprentice who works for Mr. Matekoni, has always had a way with the ladies. However, is he man enough to live up to his personal responsibilities? Grace and Precious are determined to make him do so.
McCall Smith enthralls us with this tender and often humorous tale in which the gentle spirit of his characters shines through. With his delicate and beautifully etched prose, perfectly pitched dialogue, and understanding of the need we all have for love, respect, and acceptance, the author casts his usual spell. We can almost feel the strong rays of the sun and see the brilliant stars twinkling in the Botswana sky. Furthermore, we cannot help but appreciate Mma Ramotswe's unerring tact, common sense, and adherence to the old ways; Mr. Matekoni's kindness and integrity; and Grace's pride in a job well done. "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party" is a delightful slice of life, with heroes, villains, and people who are a bit of both, all trying to get along in a difficult and sometimes bewildering world. It is charmingly whimsical and as satisfying as a cup of freshly brewed red bush tea.