Un Curso De Milagros: What’s not to like about McCall Smith’s tales from Botswana? His style is gently paced, detailed, and written with a clear love and understanding of Africa.
This tale is in the ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series, and follows an investigation by Mma Precious Ramotswe (whose business the Agency is) and her ambitious assistant – Mma Makutsi. Having read a couple of the earlier novels in the series, I really feel as though I know Precious – she is a larger lady (‘traditionally built’) who loves life, Botswana, justice and Red Bush tea.
The pace of the novel is slow, detailed and personal. It’s about everyday life and ordinary people, and not a lot of great import happens. There are no bullets, bombs, murders, conspiracies or exciting car chases – the story is one of observation and everyday wisdom. A couple of examples of this ‘homespun’ by way of illustration: “Sometimes big problems are really tiny ones when you look at them in the right way”; “the telling of a story, like virtually everything in this life, (is) always made all the easier by a cup of tea” – how true!
Mma Ramotswe describes herself and her work thus: ‘I am not a lady who deals with criminal business. That is the job of the Botswana police force… I am a lady first and then I am a detective. So I just do the things which we ladies know how to do… “
So what can I tell you that might entice you to try out these tales? Speedy Motors is the name of her husband’s business: Mr. J. L. B. Makatone (after a very long courtship and engagement, ‘J.L.B’ is Mma Ramotswe’s quiet, hard working husband) and two lazy apprentices fix cars (like all African mechanics he can make anything mechanical work, from ‘little white vans’ to the temperamental water pump at the Orphan Farm) – and it as from these premises that Precious runs her Agency.