Monday, November 27, 2006

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith

This is sixth in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. It's good to read them in order. Because these books are so good, I like to ration them, and read about one a year. I see he's got another one already out, but I have to resist the urge to run and get that one too. I suppose if I did read that one, I would still have to wait my customary year while he writes another one. But then I would have to live with the anxiety of whether or not he would do so. It's better to know that you have one to look forward to, as kind of an emergency kit, available at just the moment you need it.

This one was better than the last (The Full Cupboard of Life). I had been a bit worried that he was losing his momentum on these, getting bored of them, perhaps, but this one was just delightful. It's such a pleasure to visit with Mma Ramotswe and her friends and family. McCall Smith writes with such verve and humor about Botswana, but always with respect and affection. He wants us to love this country as much as he obviously does. This is a happy book: good things happen to good people, and even the bad people are gently urged to get back on the road to goodness.

If you haven't tried listening to the audiobook versions of these, I highly recommend them. The reader, Lisette Lecat, is perfect. Her accents and voices are evocative but never intrusive or fake, and her obvious facility with local pronunciations adds a lot. For example, did you know that Tlokweng (as in Tlokweng Speedy Motors) is pronounced "clo-kweng"? For that matter, did you know that the honorific title of Mma is pronounced "mmmm-mah"? You have to hit the first m hard, make a sort of hmmm sound (only without the h), then say "ma." How would I have known this, if not from the audiobook?

This link lists the series titles in order, and provides plot summaries of each.
(Book 50, 2006)


Anonymous said...

That's very ineresting, Becky, because I loved all the previous books, but like you I wondered if he'd lost the momentum somewhat with "Full Cupboard". But I did buy this one (not audio, though) and now that I've read your review, must read it. Interestingly (to me anyway!) the first of the series was the first book that Cathy and I both read -- since then we now read interchangeably. A lovely moment, that "reading coming of age"!

Becky Holmes said...

For Miles and me it was the Harry Potter books. It continues now with fantasy -- he's almost finished with the fourth George R.R. Martin book. Having a child who shares your taste in reading is one of the most gratifying experiences as a parent. I think my younger son would like the McCall Smith series because he likes books about people. That's how he differentiates his reading tastes from his brother's. My mother and I used to share mysteries. Once she died it became harder for me to read them, and I switched to listening to them, but never returned to the authors she and I shared.

Anonymous said...

I just finished listening to "44 Scotland Street". It was great. He wrote it in installments for a newspaper so the chapters are nicely self contained. The main characters are people who live in an apartment building in Edinborough. It's highly entertaining. The episodes about a mother and her "gifted" preschool boy are laugh-out-loud funny.

Post a Comment