In this seventh installment in the internationally bestselling, universally beloved series, there is considerable excitement at the shared premises of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. A cobra has been found in Precious Ramotswe's office. Then a nurse from a local medical clinic reveals to Mma Ramotswe that faulty blood-pressure readings are being recorded there. And it looks as though Aunty Emang, the advice columnist in the local newspaper, may not be what she seems. It all means a lot of work for Mma Ramotswe and her inestimable assistant, Grace Makutsi, and they are, of course, up to the challenge. But there's trouble brewing in Mma Makutsi's own life. Her greedy uncles are demanding an extra-large bride price from her well-to-do fiancé, a man of substance, Phuti Radiphuti, and though money may buy her that fashionably narrow (and uncomfortable) pair of blue shoes, it won't buy her the happiness that Mma Ramotswe promises her she'll find in simpler things - in contentment with the world and enough tea to smooth over the occasional bumps in the road.
Fans of Botswana's No. 1 lady detectives Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi (In the Company of Cheerful Ladies) will be pleased to learn that the seventh novel in this series is just as entertaining as the previous six. Smith relates the ladies' latest adventures with his usual warmth, affection, and gentle humor. The ladies' problems this time range from the dramatic (a cobra in the office) to the romantic (a misunderstanding between Mma Makutsi and her fiance). The author digresses frequently on the charms of Botswana, as much a character as Mma Ramotswe herself. "If only more people knew, thought Mma Ramotswe. If only more people knew that there was more to Africa than all the problems they saw. They could love us too, as we love them." Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Leslie Patterson, Blanding P.L., Rehoboth, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 17, 2006
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Excerpt from Blue Shoes and Happiness (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: #7) by Alexander McCall Smith
Aunty Emang, Solver of Problems
When you are just the right age, as Mma Ramotswe was, and when you have seen a bit of life, as Mma Ramotswe certainly had, then there are some things that you just know. And one of the things that was well known to Mma Ramotswe, only begetter of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Botswana's only ladies' detective agency), was that there were two sorts of problem in this life. Firstly, there were those problems-and they were major ones-about which one could do very little, other than to hope, of course. These were the problems of the land, of fields that were too rocky, of soil that blew away in the wind, or of places where crops would just not thrive for some sickness that lurked in the very earth. But looming greater than anything else there was the problem of drought. It was a familiar feeling in Botswana, this waiting for rain, which often simply did not come, or came too late to save the crops. And then the land, scarred and exhausted, would dry and crack under the relentless sun, and it would seem that nothing short of a miracle would ever bring it to life. But that miracle would eventually arrive, as it always had, and the landscape would turn from brown to green within hours under the kiss of the rain. And there were other colours that would follow the green; yellows, blues, reds would appear in patches across the veld as if great cakes of dye had been crumbled and scattered by an unseen hand. These were the colours of the wild flowers that had been lurking there, throughout the dry season, waiting for the first drops of moisture to awaken them. So at least that sort of problem had its solution, although one often had to wait long, dry months for that solution to arrive.
The other sorts of problems were those which people made for themselves. These were very common, and Mma Ramotswe had seen many of them in the course of her work. Ever since she had set up this agency, armed only with a copy of Clovis Andersen's The Principles of Private Detection-and a great deal of common sense-scarcely a day had gone by without her encountering some problem which people had brought upon themselves. Unlike the first sort of problem-drought and the like-these were difficulties that could have been avoided. If people were only more careful, or behaved themselves as they should, then they would not find themselves faced with problems of this sort. But of course people never behaved themselves as they should. "We are all human beings," Mma Ramotswe had once observed to Mma Makutsi, "and human beings can't really help themselves. Have you noticed that, Mma? We can't really help ourselves from doing things that land us in all sorts of trouble."