Last year when we were travelling through Southern Africa, as we travelled north through Botswana, one of my fellow explorers, Jenny, handed me a book having finished it and asked ‘would I like to borrow it?’ I told her that I found novels almost impossible as I have severe trouble suspending my disbelief. She suggested I should try it anyway as it was so beautifully written.
Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe and Lucian Msamati as Mr J L B Matekoni with author Alexander McCall Smith, from the forthcoming TV film â€˜The No.1 Ladiesâ€™ Detective Agencyâ€™
From page one of Alexander McCall Smithâ€™s book â€˜Tears of the Giraffeâ€™ I was completely hooked by the character of Mma Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the No.1 Ladiesâ€™ Detective Agency, of Gaborone, Botswana.
It didnâ€™t matter that â€˜Tears of the Giraffeâ€™ was the second book in the No.1 Ladiesâ€™ Detective Agency series and I hadn’t read the first. The characters of lady detective Precious Ramotswe and her fiancÃ©e, Mr J L B Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, were so believable, warm and human I felt I had known them forever.
McCall Smith effortlessly conjures up what it is to be in Botswana, delighting in the little things â€“ the smell of the woodsmoke, donkeys and cattle on the roads, the colourful birds, the hardworking people, a bowl of roasted pumpkin, a slice of juicy fruitcake, the pleasure of a cup of bush tea. As we drove through the Kalahari up to the Okavango I could see from the window of the bus exactly what he was describing through the life of Mma Ramotswe. I was, and continue to be, enchanted by that remarkable and exceptionally beautiful country.
McCall Smithâ€™s clear, economical writing style is lesson to us all in how to use simple language to paint the most extraordinarily detailed mental pictures. His gentle wit is warm and non-judgemental. The profound wisdom he describes through the lives of his characters teaches us more about what it is to be human than any holy book could ever hope to.
I am currently reading â€˜The Full Cupboard of Lifeâ€™, but Moth is already on â€˜The Good Husband of Zebra Driveâ€™. We eagerly await the screening of the BBCâ€™s TV film of No.1 Ladiesâ€™ Detective Agency, we believe will be broadcast in March.