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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith (#10)

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #10)Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb: Mma Ramotswe’s ever-ready tiny white van has recently developed a rather disturbing noise. Of course, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni–her estimable husband and one of Botswana’s most talented mechanics––is the man to turn to for help. But Precious suspects he might simply condemn the van and replace it with something more modern. Can she find a way to save her old friend?

In the meantime, Mma Makutsi discovers that her old rival Violet Sephotho, who could not have gotten more than fifty percent on her typing final at the Botswana Secretarial College, has set her sights on none other than Mma Makutsi’s fiancé, Phuti Radiphuti. Can Mma Ramotswe’s intuition save the day? Finally, the proprietor of a local football team has enlisted the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to help explain its dreadful losing streak. The owner of the team is convinced he as a traitor in his midst. But how is Mma Ramotswe, who has never seen a football match in her life, going to discern who is throwing the game? Help, it turns out, may come from an unexpected quarter.

There are few mysteries that can’t be solved and fewer problems that can’t be fixed when the irrepressible Precious Ramotswe puts her mind to them. A good cup of red bush tea might be the best solution of all.

This book was more lighthearted than several of the previous.  Mma Ramotswe picks up a significant case with the local football team and quickly finds herself out of her element.  Mma Matkutsi discovers her rival, Violet Sophotho, has ingratiated her way into her fiance's business.  Mma Ramotswe is lamenting the loss of her white van, and Mma Matkutsi finds new shoes can solve all sorts of problems, except making dinner.

I really enjoy the small insights and glimpses of Botswana life, the tidbits of wisdom that come from all the characters - whether they realize it or not, and the way everyone interacts.  It's about Botswana and her people more so than any one individual. 

These are all written in such a way that I can feel how dry the air is, imagine being there staring out at the bush, cars parked under acacia trees like brightly colored petals, taking tea on the veranda of the President's hotel while the vendors have their wares spread out on blankets in the square.  The disparity between the rich and the poor is not glossed over, but it's almost as if the poor are the rich for being so much closer to the land. 

These stories are just a delight to read.  Recommended.

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