Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith

About the book: The latest installment in the beloved, best-selling series is once again a beautiful blend of wit and wisdom, and a profoundly touching tale of the human heart.

At a remote cattle post south of Gaborone two cows have been killed, and Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s No. 1 Lady Detective, is asked to investigate by a rather frightened and furtive gentleman. It is an intriguing problem with plenty of suspects—including, surprisingly, her own client.

To complicate matters, Mma Ramotswe is haunted by a vision of her dear old white van, and Grace Makutsi witnesses it as well. Is it the ghost of her old friend, or has it risen from the junkyard? In the meantime, one of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s apprentices may have gotten a girl pregnant and, under pressure to marry her, has run away. Naturally, it is up to Precious to help sort things out. Add to the mix Violet Sephotho’s newly launched run for the Botswana Parliament and a pair of perfect wedding shoes—will wedding bells finally ring for Phuti Radiphuti and Grace Makutsi?—and we have a charming and delightful tale in the inimitable style of Alexander McCall Smith.

First line: Mma Ramotswe had by no means forgotten her late white van.My thoughts: The publishers blurb says it is a charming and delightful tale and I did find myself charmed, as I have by anything I've read by McCall Smith. By the reading of this, the 12th book in the series, I feel that Precious is a dear friend. I can anticipate how she will react to most any situation, and she never disappoints me. Her heart is as big as Africa. Her consideration for others, her common sense, and and love of the old ways was fully in evidence. I rejoiced with her in this book as she found that her beloved tiny white van was alive and well, my heart broke for the children she thought of, and I loved looking at Botswana through her eyes. The author does a great job of making you see and feel what the characters see and feel.
The main mystery, that of the cattle that have been killed, is not an easy one to investigate for Mma Ramotswe. She comes up with several suspects and as she sorts through them I was treated to a small glimpse into the past when Great Britain governed there. Finally, Grace and Phuti are getting married and of course there is a great deal of importance placed on shoes, Grace being an incurable shoe addict. Mma Potakwane, the lady who runs the orphan farm, did not receive an invitation and is a little hurt. But she is Mma Potakawane, a force to be reckoned with. You will love to she how she handles this and becomes a vital part of the celebration

I love the gentle humor, the way the gentle spirits of his characters are formed. The prose is beautiful and the dialogue fun to read. Mr. JLB Matekoni's kindness and integrity; and Grace's pride in a job well done, Mma Ramotswe's wisdom, and the apprentices youth just shine.

The only criticism I have of this book is that it is too short! It will be a whole year now till I can visit with these characters again. I can't wait to see how they deal with Violet and her run for Parliament. If you haven't read this series you should!

Rating: E

Quote: There were plenty of children who worked on farms, unofficially, and there were even some who worked in towns. Bobashi were children whose parents were dead, or who had run away from home and who survived by their wits. they tended to be found in the towns rather than in the country; she had even come across the one who lived in a storm-water drain, a scrap of a child with a face that had seemed so prematurely worldly-wise. She had tried to bring the child to the attention of Mma Potokwane, but when she had driven the matron to the place where she had spotted him, he was nowhere to be seen. "They move about," said Mma Potokwane, sadly. "One day they live in a drain, the next day they are up a tree. There is no telling with that sort of child."

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