Writer delights with lucky #7: Blue Shoes and Happiness
Terry Mathews | News-Telegram Arts Editor

Dec. 13, 2006 - Precious Ramotswe, the “traditionally built” woman from Botswana, has seen a lot in her life, but the one thing she knows without a doubt is that things are never as simple as they seem on the surface. 

In the six previous books of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, Mma Romotswe, the agency’s sole proprietor  has not really solved complicated mysteries. What she has done for her clients, with great success, is to help them find gracious ways out of some pretty prickly predicaments.

Blue Shoes and Happiness, the latest offering by author Alexander McCall Smith, is no exception.

There are problems at a game reserve run by a friend of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Romotswe’s husband and owner of the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors garage. The staff are frightened, but will not speak up.

Another client has problems with her supervisor, who is secretly feeding her husband with rations from the government kitchen where both women work.

A nurse comes to Mma Romotswe’s office with concerns that the doctor she works for may be killing people with bad medicine.

An employee at Mr. J.L.B.’s garage needs a vehicle. His wealthy uncle refuses to help him financially because the employee spent time in jail.

Grace Makutsi, the most distin-guished graduate of her year at the Botswana Secretarial College and Mma Romtoswe’s assistant  is having issues with her fiancé.

The common thread in all of these storylines is the calm, assured and self-sufficient Mma Romtoswe. Think “slow and steady wins the race” and you have the picture. Mma Romtowse always wins the race because she is meticulous in her work and is uncanny in her observations of the human condition.

� While these books are not action-filled, thrill-a-minute, heart pounding mysteries, they do offer the deep satisfaction of a good story, well-told, with characters you will come to adore.

�Read the books in order of publication. Otherwise, you�ll miss the struggle for validation Mma Romtowse faced when she hung out her shingle in the male-dominated African society of Botswana. � �

You’ll miss her courtship with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. You’ll miss the story of the children who come to live with the couple. You’ll miss the hilarious antics of the young apprentices at Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s garage. But, most of all, you’ll miss getting to know the strong, independent woman at the center of everyone’s universe.

The books, in order of publication, are:

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Tears of the Giraffe

Morality of Beautiful Girls

The Kalahari Typing School for Men

Full Cupboard of Life

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

Blue Shoes and Happiness

Look for the new Mma Romotswe adventure, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, due April 2007.


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