Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

Review of Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built


The latest and tenth installment in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith,  we find the owner and proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency,  Mma Precious  Ramotswe is approached by the proprietor of a local football team to help him discover the reason behind the team's losing streak.  Though unfamiliar with the rules and world of football, Mma. Ramotswe and her prickly assistant Mma Grace Makutsi enlist the help of Mma. Ramotswe's football loving and very observant adopted son, Puso.  With their gentle prodding, interviewing and powers of deduction,  the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is tracks down the cause of the problem.

All the while, Mma Ramotswe is heartsick with a problem of her own.  While she is happily married to Mr. J.L.B. Maketoni, one of Botswana's most talented mechanics,  she is dismayed to discover that her much-loved and battered white van is finally giving out.  Mma Ramotswe is loyal and recalls all the adventures with her white van. She is not ready to retire the van.   She calls upon the help of Fanwell, Mr. Maketoni's second assistant,  to see if the white van can be brought back to life.

Mma. Ramotswe's assistant, Grace Makutsi is herself distracted by trouble brewing with her fiance, the  owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, wealthy and hardworking Mr. Phuti Radiphuti.  Mr. Phuti has hired her nemesis from the Botswana Secretarial College, Violet Sephotho, as a new saleslady in his shop.  Though Mr. Phuti is oblivious, Mma. Makutsi suspects that the beautiful and scheming Violet is plotting to steal him away.   Mma. Makutsi searches for a way to remove the danger without alerting Mr. Phuti.

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built does not disappoint!  As the latest in the series, we are happy to find Mma. Precious Ramotswe with her gentle and kind ways unchanged. She still pays respect to the traditional ways.  She generously offers help and comfort to those who need it.   As she gets to know Fanwell and his circumstances, you are glad to become better acquainted with the characters in her life.  The constant sense of pride in Botswana and her love for her father are woven into the narrative but the book never dips to the maudlin, folksy or cute.  This book is a very enjoyable way to pass a few hours! 

I highly recommend it for fans of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, people fond of detective cozies, and someone looking for a heartwarming glimpse into another culture.

Format and cover: Eye catching while it reflects the tone and content of the book. 
Rating 4.5 out of 5
Release date: April 21, 2009
Publisher:  Pantheon Books (212 pages)
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library.

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