Sarah Broadhurst's view...
Despite threatening to wind-up this Botswana crime series as he develops an equally intriguing Scottish heroine, Isabel Dalhousie, Precious Ramotswe is still his most endearing character and I personally love the African lore and setting that surrounds her and her astute wisdom. This is the sixth in the series and the only one in 2005, but fans rejoice, I understand he has been persuaded to write another for next year. If you don’t know the series, then do start at the beginning with The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but as each tale is self-contained, you don’t have to. I would recommend him to everyone. He is different, utterly engaging, gentle and life affirming.
Comparisons: none, but if you like Agatha Christie, Laurie Lee, Simon Brett.
Similar this month: Gervase Phinn, Kate Long.
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In The Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith
Precious Ramotswe, that cheerful Botswanan private investigator of 'traditional build', is now married to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. The Agency is busy, but Mma Ramotswe cannot ignore the plea which is made by a woman who comes to her with a tale of particular misfortune. Unfortunately, her attempts to help are interrupted by a close encounter between her tiny white van and a bicycle, and by a spectacular disagreement between her assistant, Mma Makutsi, and one of the apprentices at the garage. This apprentice has found a fancy girlfriend who drives a Mercedes-Benz. How can he be rescued from his folly? And as for Mma Makutsi, she has found a dancing class, and a man who may not be able to dance very well, but who admires her greatly. And all of this happens against a background of quiet sessions of bush tea, and of a land that stretches out forever under mile upon mile of empty sky…
'A rare pleasure' Daily Telegraph
‘Forget the library – the body is in the mud hut. An African Miss Marple created by a Scottish lawyer . . . superb’ Sunday Times
'There is something almost divinely appealing about the way Alexander McCall Smith writes about daily life in Botswana…it is hard to think of a contemporary writer more genuinely engaging…(his) novels are also extremely funny: I find it impossible to think about them without smiling'
Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
About the Author
Alexander McCall Smith was our Guest Editor in July 2011 - click here - to see the books that inspired his writing.
Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty-five million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman newspaper, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award. Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country. Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.
A Lovereading guide to the works of Alexander McCall Smith...
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency was first published in 1998 and then, suddenly, it took off in America to the extent that no less than11 reprints were required in 2003.
Since then, so prolific has been his output, and so has his popularity soared, that there was a time when the sheer multitude of McCall Smith's books led to confusion as to which book fitted into each of the various series under which he writes. One has hardly been able to keep up with the sheer abundance of books published - we reckon at least thirty in less than a decade.
Now, thankfully, things have settled down and the legions of McCall Smiths avid fans can compartmentalise his new books into the four main series under which they sit - The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series, The Isabel Dalhousie Novels, The 44 Scotland Street Series and The Corduroy Mansions Series with a few more on top!
There are constant features across the whole panoply of McCall Smith's output. Wry and witty observations about the day-to-day lives of normal people. An innocence and delight in the human condition. And, always, a twinkle on the eye shared by writer and reader. He is a happy writer and that makes for happy readers.
He is best known for the following 4 series of novels (they are shown below in the order they were published) :-
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, The Kalahari Typing School for Men, The Full Cupboard of Life, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, Blue Shoes and Happiness, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, The Miracle at Speedy Motors, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, The Double Comfort Safari Club, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon.
Isabel Dalhousie series: The Sunday Philosophy Club,Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, The Right Attitude to Rain, The Careful Use of Compliments, The Comfort of Saturdays, The Lost Art of Gratitude, The Charming Quirks of Others, The Forgotten Affairs of Youth, The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds.
44 Scotland Street series: 44 Scotland Street, Espresso Tales, Love Over Scotland, The World According to Bertie, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, The Importance of Being Seven, Bertie Plays the Blues, Sunshine on Scotland Street, Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers.
Corduroy Mansions Series: Corduroy Mansions, The Dog Who Came in from the Cold, A Conspiracy of Friends.
Author Photo © Graham Clark
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