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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complications of Married Life, Business and Courting,
This review is from: In the Company of Cheerful Ladies: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Paperback)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.
Mma Makutsi develops further as a detective, and earns a bonus that she uses to buy some dancing shoes and to pay for dancing lessons. During her classes, she finds herself avoiding painful encounters with her dancing partner . . . a very shy man with few dancing skills and a great stutter.
Before the story ends, Precious has to face an unpleasant truth about herself and decide what to do about it.
With the exception of one case (a Zambian financier who has fled shortly before funds were discovered to be missing), all of the mysteries in the book relate to Precious and her family's personal life.
The story's major theme is that society has lost touch with encouraging goodness, often punishing the good while encouraging those who do wrong.
The story is truly delightful. I only had two complaints that kept it from being a five-star effort for me. First, the dilemma that Precious faces has a slightly too easy resolution. The drama of the story could have been greater with a more complicated resolution. Second, untamed Africa itself plays a smaller role than in some of the earlier stories. When untamed Africa does appear, however, its presence brings utter joy for the reader. I also would have liked the story better if it had more detection for clients in it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful read for a summer's day,
This review is from: The Full Cupboard of Life: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Paperback)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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too much fun,
This review is from: In the Company of Cheerful Ladies: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Paperback)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars cheerful indeed,
This review is from: In the Company of Cheerful Ladies: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Paperback)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. The humor is gentle but at times you will find yourself laughing out loud. The author's fondness for Botswana shines through. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, Warm, Wonderful Characters,
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. Authors wanting to learn how to create wonderful, engaging characters can learn a lot from Alexander McCall Smith and this wonderful series of books. Readers can gain hours of pleasure with wonderful people they'd love to know and spend time with in real life. I don't think a book can earn much higher praise than that. It's really wonderful to see well-written, charming books filled with warmth, humor and humanity reach the bestseller list. It restores my faith, at least partially, in the book buying public.
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubled by one part,
By A Customer
I love the series and look forward to more.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings On This One...,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars WIT AND WISDOM ON EVERY PAGE,
Fifth in the highly acclaimed series by Alexander McCall Smith "The Full Cupboard Of Life" finds Mma Ramotswe disconcerted by her long engagement to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, a true gentleman and the best mechanic in Botswana. She wonders if she will forever be an engaged lady, "a status somewhere between spinsterhood and marriage."
Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni is also distracted.. His two apprentices are disappointments, apparently unable or unwilling to comprehend the high standards required of them in such trustworthy positions. He fears that their lackadaisical work will cause "great sadness among the cars of Botswana." He also faces a frightening parachute jump, the brainchild of Mma Potokwani.
Orphan farm matron Mma Potokwani is formidable. She, too, is of generous proportions, a state that only hinders when she attempts to bend over - a minor inconvenience since she is aware that "Men wanted women whose shape reminded them of good things on the table."
So, blessed with self-esteem and grit that matches her girth she presses on. Using a sweet cake wreathed with raisins as enticement she coaxes Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni into agreeing to jump from a plane as a fund-raiser for the orphans. Thus, the honest, gentle mechanic is reminded again that women are more clever than men. He yearns to disabuse her of this dangerous plan. Yet he fully realizes the difficulty in standing up to women - "it appeared to make little difference."
Mma Potokwani also tackles Botswana's's longest engagement, urging Mma Ramotswe to set a wedding date. When Mma Ramotswe demurs, explaining that Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni likes to consider things for long periods of time, Mma Potokwani counters with, "That is a weakness......there are some men who need to be organized by women."
Mma Ramotswe agrees with this logic much to the distress of her assistant, Mma Makutsi, who views the orphan home matron as the kind of forceful woman who would exploit a man's gentle nature.
Of course, Mma Makutsi would never have the temerity to voice disapproval, even though she is the successful head of a school (engagingly chronicled in "The Kalahari Typing School For Men,"). In addition, her thoughts are occupied by the purchase of a home. No longer must she perform her daily ablutions at an outdoor tap.
Her mind also turns to the Agency's latest client who has a problem she envies - four suitors. Mma Holonga is a wealthy woman who made a fortune through hair styling salons and a mixture called Special Girl Hair Braiding Preparation. While Mma Holonga may be adept at hair braiding she knows little about men. She asks Mma Ramotswe to investigate and discover which men are interested in her money and which are interested in her. A challenge, indeed.
Botswana is a place where all worries wash away with a steaming cup of bush tea, where it's a pleasure to sit in the sun and talk. "The Full Cupboard of Life" offers wit and wisdom on every page. Read it and you will find yourself very much like Botswanans on happy occasions - ululating with pleasure.
- Gail Cooke
4.0 out of 5 stars People Are People All Over The World,
Because Botswana is a relatively small country, much of it being desert, the Botswanians tend to know each other, all over the country. This intimacy of course is less in the urban environments than in the more traditional rural areas. Nonetheless, by American standards, even the urban life is rather suburban if not rural in appearance.
The issues that Smith concentrates on are the feelings that are universal in virtually every society. While there are specific nuances in each country, and within a country, in each region, still, there are certain things, that are common to all. Men will always seek the love of women. Women will always be more selective than men in choosing their mate.
In Botswana, the meeting of the traditional versus the contemporary is deeply explored. The role of women in the Botswanian society is investigated and parsed. There are many types of women in Botswana, as there are many types of women in any part of the world.
But Smith also finds, that there are similarities between men and women, and that these similarities are universal and accepted by almost all societies. By using Botswana, as a developing third world nation, Smith allows the reader to look back at the early days of his/her own country, and then see how far their country has come, from inception, to today. While the detective plots lend an interesting backdrop to Smith's message, the real concentration in all of Smith's books in this series are the way in which people treat others, and the way in which they should treat others. The book provides another wonderful view of cross-cultural interactions and perspectives.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the company of a good book,
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The Full Cupboard of Life: More from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Paperback - Jan. 25 2005)
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