Tea Time for the Traditionally Built – Alexander McCall Smith

There is something about coming to a series very late on after many books have been written. This is one such series which I did just that – The No 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency. Now here I am at book ten and still have more to read…..

In this particular book, Mma Ramotswe is faced with the same challenges as before, in this book it seems that her trusty little white van has come to the end of its life and will be replaced but something new will not have the same familiarity and comfort as old.

Familiarity and comfort are testing Mma Ramotswe when she thinks that perhaps she needs to walk more; it will benefit her in more ways than one; especially as traditionally built women are rarely seen walking. But sometimes traditionally built women have other skills.

It is these skills which draws Mr Molofololo,  the demanding owner of the local football team, to Mma Ramotswe notice. There is a problem with the team, and only she can solve it. But what do two women working in the detective agency know about football? It seems they actually do not have to know much about football, they just need to know about people.  And both Mma Ramotswe and Mma Grace Makutsi are skilled and finding out about people, their backgrounds and using what skills they acquired to come to the right conclusion. In fact this football element of the story was very resonant of many of the tales that grace our back pages it seems frequently.

As always Mma Makutsi and her way with words brings humour to the book, but also at the same time covers the doubts and fears that many people have in relationships. Mma Makutsi’s nemesis Violet infiltrates her way into the Double Comfort Furniture Shop and Grace’s fiancée cannot see what is obvious to everyone else. But then when sales are up, you are probably not going to see beyond the money coming in. Once again, Mma Ramotswe has to guide Grace without her realising to the conclusion that will be right although not necessarily suit everyone.

And so all the threads of the story are weaved together to the end of the tale, and some are hinted out for future books. But this book remains a gentle colourful tale of the lovely people in Gaborone in Botswana and the warmth of the heat, comes through the pages. There is no hardened crime, blood and gore in these books. There is gentle moral stories, that make you stop, think and reflect. A joy to read.

It is very difficult to review books, which are part of a much bigger series; in the main because they have a very similar feel and you can feel that perhaps you are just repeating yourself or regurgitating the same old stuff, though I hasten to add that the author does not seems to be doing any regurgitating. 

The books have a framework and the familiarity of them and the wonderful colourful characters makes them a joy to read, whether it is the first you have read or the tenth. (I cannot believe I have read 10!) Although I have struggled with the author’s other novels. Something about this particular series sticks with me and I ave nearly caught up with them as well. 

This particular review is also a lesson to myself that I should really write a review, as soon as I can after finishing the book, or at least write something as going back to it was rather difficult to reflect nearly two weeks after reading it.