28. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party - twelfth in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series
by Alexander McCall Smith
Kindle book - 14
For such a famous, well-loved, and much-read author, I sure know a lot of people who cannot get into these books of Botswana and Mma Ramotswe. They cannot put their finger on why. They just don't care for them. I have a great quote that I read years ago:
In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.And isn't that the truth! Thank goodness there are as many kinds of books as there are people.
Andre Maurois (1885-1967)
For myself, I love these books. Every single one of them. I love the main characters, the locale, and the deep kindness that Alexander McCall Smith expresses in each book. I love the slow and quiet pace.
Mma Ramotswe is a detective, and there is usually a case or two interspersed in these stories of her daily life and the lives of those around her. In one book, a particular character is spotlighted, and in another book we get to know someone else a bit better. This time one of the young mechanics-in-training, Charlie is featured. He has always been a kind of caricature, a not very likeable character, but in this book we find there is some depth to him. And Mma Makutsi and Rra Phuti Radiphuti (one of my favorite names in literature) get married, hence the title. It has been so nice watching their romance develop over time. The case was a hard one for me. A farmer's cattle are being mutilated, and Mma Ramotswe must solve the crime. There isn't an easy solution, as with so many other things in this life. All along the way, she gets good advice and sustenance from her beloved and much referred to book, The Principles of Private Detection by Clovis Andersen.
I love how Mma Ramotswe walks out in her garden each day.
She went out into the garden. The sun had set, but there was still a faint glow in the west, above the Kalahari - enough to provide that half-light that makes everything seem so rounded, so perfect. She stood in her garden and looked about her. Against the darkening sky, the branches of the trees traced a pattern of twigs and leaves - a pattern of such intricacy and delicacy that those standing below might look up and wonder why the world can be so beautiful and yet break the heart.I love her ruminations on her country and her father.
On either side of the track, the grey-green bush stretched out, a landscape of struggling shrubs, leaves shrivelled and dusty, filling in the space between the endless forests of thorn trees. The more established acacia provided some cover from the sun, casting pools of shade under which, here and there, cattle clustered, their tails twitching listlessly against the flies. The prevailing note was one of somnolence and stasis, a note taken up and orchestrated by hidden choirs of screeching cicadas: this was a Botswana that had existed since the days when cattle-herding peoples first came to this land; this was a Botswana that was a hundred years from the world of Gabarone, from the world of cars, of white buildings, of commerce and diamonds. But it was the real heart of the country, the heart that she hoped, when her time came to leave this earth, she would see, in her mind's eye at least, before the final darkness set in. And for all that she belonged to Gabarone, and to that other world, Mma Ramotswe belonged here too, and felt beside her quite strongly the presence of her father, the late Obed Ramotswe. As she gazed out through the tangle of acacia, she felt he was there, seated beside her in the van, his familiar old hat resting on his lap, looking out at the cattle and rehearsing in his mind the possible bloodlines of these beasts he knew so well.And last, but definitely not least I adore the titles and the covers of these books. This whole series is a perfect treasure to me.
Addendum: Please do go here to read a fantastic blog posting about Alexander McCall Smith's visit to a library.