It's fairly difficult to not fall in love with Botswana after reading one of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. McCall Smith's purpose in life seems to be to prove that all of Africa is not scary, wild and corrupt, and that Botswana is a shining example of an African nation with a unique set of circumstances and problems, to be sure, but one that is correctly civilized.
I say this a bit sarcastically because while I'm sure it has a large element of truth, McCall Smith forces it down our throats over and over and over again. This is what I find most hilarious about these books, that there is so much repetition. To be specific, in any of the books in this series, you are sure to see every one of these 4 things:
- traditionally built women, not skinny like these young people are
- old-style values, not the way these young people carry on
- cups of bush tea, designed to refresh the mind
And, most important of all,
- "97% success in the Botswana Secretarial College exams"
This latter one is repeated so often in conjunction with a certain character that I think these books should have drinking games associated with them. Read the book at one sitting, and see how drunk you get by the end, downing a shot for every time you hear that phrase.
Look, I wouldn't be reading my 5th book in this series if I didn't enjoy these plots: they're slow and soothing, and they envelop me in a culture I am not at all familiar with. They are like a cup of bush tea-- very refreshing!
This one, in contrast to the previous 4, I listened to on audiobook. The narrator is Lisette Lecat, a South African playwright. She threw me with her enunciation of the Mma's and Rra's liberally sprinkled throughout the text, but now I couldn't imagine saying them this way in my head (the correct way, I assume) when I read my next No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book.