No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 4, 2021

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith
#throwbackthursday

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Angency (Image: boxed sets of books)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Botswana, Gentle Mysteries, Amateur Sleuths, “UpLit”

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m eager to share two reviews of a series on my lifetime favorites list, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith….gentle, character-driven stories, Botswana culture.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of the Series:

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective (21 installment) series is a gentle, character-driven, charming, easy reading series filled with likable characters reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana, Africa. Mma Ramotswe, founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices. Important common themes appear throughout all the stories in the series, and they include compassion, kindness, graciousness, reflection, good manners, forgiveness, and inclusiveness. Readers also hear the author’s voice as he provides gentle commentary on universal issues. Alexander McCall Smith, born in Zimbabwe, does really well in what he sets out to do in these stories.

cup of tea

“Tea, thought Mma Ramotswe–no matter what was happening, no matter how difficult things became, there was always the tea break–that still moment, that unchangeable ritual, that survived everything, made normal the abnormal, renewed one’s ability to cope with whatever the world laid before one. Tea.”

There are 21 installments in the series! Are you looking for a gentle, cozy read?

I’d love to introduce you to gracious, wise, and wonderful Mma Ramotswe! How to Raise an Elephant is the most recent (#21) installment (not reviewed). Here are reviews of two of my recent favorites (If you haven’t read any of the series and want to try one, I’d suggest beginning with House of Unexpected Sisters):

Continue here for my full review of The House of Unexpected Sisters (my fav or the series)….

Continue here for my full review of The Colors of All the Cattle ….



QOTD:

Have you read No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series or is it on your TBR?

The Colors of All the Cattle [Book Review]

November 16, 2018

The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith

Where are my faithful readers of this series?!

the color of all the cattle 2

Genre/Categories: Gentle Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Botswana, “UpLit”

My Summary:

The Colors of All the Cattle is the nineteenth installment of this charming, easy-reading series. All the usual characters are present, reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana. In the newest story, Mma Ramotswe reluctantly runs for political office, battling long-time adversary Violet Sephotho. Using the honest slogan, “I can’t promise anything–but I shall do my best,” Precious Ramotswe is torn between wanting to do her duty, not disappointing her supporters and friends, and being in the public spotlight. In this story, we find Charlie becoming more mature, and we experience again the wisdom, graciousness, honesty, good humor, kindness, and thoughtfulness that is exemplified in the main character, Precious Ramotswe.  Along with the unfolding of this story and interactions between beloved characters, we are treated to beautiful descriptions of Botswana.

My Thoughts:

cup of tea

“Tea, thought Mma Ramotswe–no matter what was happening, no matter how difficult things became, there was always the tea break–that still moment, that unchangeable ritual, that survived everything, made normal the abnormal, renewed one’s ability to cope with whatever the world laid before one. Tea.”

Series Overview. In the most soothing of ways, The Colors of All the Cattle is predictable to the other stories in the series: readers grow to appreciate the beauty of Africa (Botswana is almost a character in the story); there’s always time for a cup of tea at work or at home; and the characters are likable, quirky, and warmly drawn. Mma Ramotswe, founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others and breaks for tea). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices. The books in this series need to be read when you’re in the mood for a slow-paced, character driven story with an abundance of reflection and description. It could be classified as a gentle, cozy mystery and a true comfort read. It seems that we always feel like we can be better people after spending time with Precious Ramotswe.

Loyal Fan. Once I begin a beloved series, it’s difficult for me to let it go. So, I’m still reading the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series nineteen years later! Who’s still reading this series with me?

Beloved Characters. Throughout the series, the same familiar characters appear in each book, so reading a story is like a visit with old friends. We are able to appreciate the ways in which the characters mature and how relationships deepen. In this story, Charlie emerges and we get to know him a bit better. The safety that he experiences when Mma Ramotswe takes him into her home helps us infer a lot about his childhood.

Diversity. One of the aspects I appreciate most about the series is the glimpse into the beauty and culture of every day life in Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith was born in Africa and lived and worked in Botswana for a time, and this enables him to write and make observations with an informed, nuanced, and authentic voice.

Plot. Most of the stories in the series are character driven. For me, the ones with a bit more plot (e.g. #18) are the most enjoyable. Even though the stories are heavily character driven, there is a mystery to be solved in each story, and in that respect the stories can be read as stand alones.

Themes. Important common themes appear throughout all the stories in the series, and they include compassion, kindness, graciousness, reflection, good manners, forgiveness, and inclusiveness. Readers also hear the author’s voice as he provides gentle commentary on universal issues. In this story, he offers thoughtful reflections on politics.

Recommended. I think these books can be read as stand alones (but, of course, they are richer with all the context gained from earlier stories). I can recommend The Colors of All The Cattle for fans of the series, for readers who might be looking for a character driven, gentle, relaxing, uplifting, clean read (no violence, offensive language, sex, etc.), and for those who are looking for a cultural reading experience featuring Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith does what he sets out to do really well. My recommendation comes with one qualification: I did enjoy #18 more than #19 because it was more plot driven. If you haven’t read any of the series and want to try one, I’d recommend #18 over this one. Find my 4 star review here: The House of Unexpected Sisters. If you’re looking for an intense, suspense filled thriller and unputdownable page turner, this might not be the series for you.

My Star Rating: 3 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

all the colors of the cattle

The Colors of All the Cattle Information Here

Meet the Author, Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

 



QOTD:

Are you a Mma Ramotswe fan (No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series)?  I’d love to hear if you’ve read the early books in this series.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m seriously considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life! I’ve heard though that it’s a gritty read in places. I’m on a six month hold for this at the library, so I’m deciding whether or not I want to buy it.

In Pieces

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine, and today’s review makes ten, out of my twelve titles (two more to go!).



 Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and sponsoring giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© http://www.ReadingLadies.com

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: The House of Unexpected Sisters [Book Review]

December 1, 2017

Before Louise Penny’s popular Inspector Gamache series set in Three Pines, there was Mma Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series set in Botswana, Africa.

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: The House of Unexpected Sisters
by Alexander McCall Smith

House of Unexpected Sisters 2

Genre/categories: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Gentle Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, African culture (Botswana), “UpLit”

My Summary:

The House of Unexpected Sisters is the eighteenth installment of this charming, easy-reading series. All the usual characters are present, reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana. In this newest story, Mma Ramotswe is challenged with four problems to solve: she is asked to investigate the unfair firing of a female employee, she is faced with an unwelcome visit from someone in her past, she learns about a potential risk to her assistant’s husband’s business, and she bravely meets an unexpected family member that causes her to question the integrity of her beloved father who is “late.” Loyal readers will be rewarded with a delightful read.

Amazon Rating (December): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts: 

My favorite of the series!

In the most soothing of ways, The House of Unexpected Sisters is predictable to the other stories in the series: readers grow to appreciate the beauty of Africa (Botswana is almost a character in the story); there’s always time for a cup of tea at work or a visit with your dearest friend and confidant (Mma Potokwani); and the characters are likable, quirky, and seem real. Mma Ramotswe founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices.

“Both of these matters had been resolved satisfactorily, which meant in Mma Ramotswe’s view that all those concerned had been persuaded to see reason. That, she felt, was the key to the solution of any problem: you did not look for a winner who would take everything; you found a way of allowing people to save face; you found a way of healing rather than imposing.”

It seems as if Alexander McCall Smith enjoys these characters as they are consistently and warmly drawn from story to story. From the way the story is told, readers might infer that the author greatly admires and respects his main character and her philosophy of life.

Family is an important theme in this heartwarming story (and in the others).  Precious Ramotswe takes care of everyone who comes into her life as family.

“Families come in different ways, she thought: sometimes they are given to you, but sometimes you find them yourself, unexpectedly, as you go through life. That is perhaps not all that well-known, but it is still true.”

Even though this is an eighteen book series, readers could easily read The House of Unexpected Sisters as a stand alone. It might be a little tedious or repetitive for readers who’ve read all the stories, but Alexander McCall Smith does an excellent job of providing all the background information a reader needs to understand the story and characters.

I’ve read all the books in the series and I think this one stands out as one of the best. If it’s been a while since you’ve read one, I’d encourage you to pick this up.

I admit that my rating of 4 stars is subjective because reading these books is like coming home to old friends. If I had read this as a stand alone and didn’t have an emotional attachment to the series or characters, I think my objective rating would be 3.5.

I recommend The House of Unexpected Sisters to those readers who are familiar with the series, for readers who love Africa, for readers who desire a quick, easy, escapist read, for readers who need a comforting read at the moment (perhaps to relieve stress or to take on vacation or to recover from a surgery), and for readers who enjoy a touch of humor (no graphic violence, profanity, or sex).

I caution readers against binge reading or speed reading the series. They are best read as stand alone stories…perhaps one every few months. Even though it’s comforting to return to the homes of old friends, I think life might be boring if every evening were spent with them. The books in this series need to be read when you’re in the mood for a slow-paced, character-driven story with an abundance of reflection and description. It could be classified as the coziest of the cozy mysteries genre and a true comfort read. It seems that we always feel like we can be better people after spending time with Precious Ramotswe.

cup of tea

Make yourself a cup of tea, and read this for yourself and meet kind, gracious, and compassionate Mma Precious Ramotswe!

My rating: 4 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

House of Unexpected Sisters

The House of Unexpected Sisters Information Here

Meet the Author, Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra). More information at http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/


QOTD:

I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.


Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Looking Ahead!

Help me decide between Lincoln in the Bardo and The Bear and the Nightingale
for my next read.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read either one.

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo Information Here

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale Information Here

***12/2, edited to add that I’ve chosen The Bear and the Nightingale as my next read. (I suggested to hubs that we could buddy read Lincoln in the Bardo and after he listened a bit to the audio version, he decided that it wasn’t a good read for him.)


Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and sponsoring giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© http://www.ReadingLadies.com