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The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

14 Feb 2008 / 0 Comments / in watching and reading

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 ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’

From page one of Alexander McCall Smith’s book ‘Tears of the Giraffe’ I was completely hooked by the character of Mma Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, of Gaborone, Botswana.

It didn’t matter that ‘Tears of the Giraffe’ was the second book in the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and I hadn’t read the first. The characters of lady detective Precious Ramotswe and her fiancée, 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 – 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 Smith’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 ‘The Full Cupboard of Life’, but Moth is already on ‘The Good Husband of Zebra Drive’. We eagerly await the screening of the BBC’s TV film of No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, we believe will be broadcast in March.

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