• The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith

    This is the latest in the series from The No1 Ladies Detective Agency again starring Mma Precious Ramotswe ably assisted by her soon to be wed Mma Grace Makutsi (97% Botswana Secretarial College). I don’t usually go along with what is written about books on their covers but in this instance I agree with the reviewer from the Daily Mail who describes it as a “wonderful, hilarious and totally addictive series”.

    Once again AMS’s brilliant writing enables the reader to feel as though they are there, experiencing Botswana along with the Lady Detective.

    “A path led off into this stretch of bush, as paths will lead off in Africa, well defined, tramped bare by passing feet, appearing like dusty veins when viewed from above. These paths knew where they were going, and would meander – never a straight line – turn and twist until they reached some human place, a collection of huts perhaps, a rough wooden stockade for cattle or goats, some place of gathering or labour. Or they would peter out, as if the people whose feet had made the path had suddenly remembered something and turned back, or had just forgotten why it was that they were walking that way and had given up, handing the land back to nature.”
    It is so easy to place yourself in Botswana as you read about the adventures of Precious Ramotswe.

    In this book, Grace Makutsi is preparing to be married after a long engagement. However work goes on and Precious has to find out who has been attacking cattle, what does the sighting of a ghost of her previous white van mean and deal with the paternal responsibilities of one of the apprentices in her husband’s garage. In all this she is aided, or often not, by her Assistant Detective Grace Makutsi, whose wedding preparations are taking her mind off the tasks in hand as she goes through the list of things to do that she keeps updating and being reminded of all the things that can go wrong on the big day by those around her. Will everything work or will it be a complete disaster is occupying just about all her waking thoughts. But not sufficiently so to stop her upsetting Charlie the apprentice mechanic who then disappears!

    As always AMS is able to bring the frailties of human beings into a light where some good can be found or a solution to a problem can be worked out through thought and talking out the issues. It is talking to the correct person that solves cases for Precious Ramotswe. In all of her work she is guided by the sound advice given by Clovis Anderson’s mighty tome The Principles of Private Detection, without which Mma Ramotswe would be somewhat at a loss. However, it is the humanity of Precious that is her real guide as AMS brings out fully in his books. The moral behind each tale is not hard to divine and the way that the Lady Detective goes about this leaves this reader with that feelgood sense of wellbeing of having read a good book, very well written and so easy to read and become absorbed in.

    This series is a fantastic view of part of Africa that is perhaps fast disappearing into this modern way of life but is brought out beautifully by McCall Smith. His experience in Botswana and his love for the Country and People is so clear and makes the books so loveably readable. I have read all the books in this series and hope that AMS will continue to bring us a book each year. If you like a good tale about the perplexities of human behaviour along with a description of life in Africa, then this is the book, indeed the series, for you.

    I will give this book 4.5 Winos, but the series of The No1 Ladies Detective Agency a full 5 Winos.


    Oh, and Mma Grace Makutsi’s wedding goes off perfectly!

    Click here to buy this book from Amazon