Review of 'The Full Cupboard of Life'

The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
5th book in the 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series

full_cupboard.jpg Another instalment in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Botswana as the story continues. Mma Ramotswe is now engaged to the best auto mechanic in Botswana: Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors who is somewhat reluctant to set a marriage date. Hiding her disappointment Ramotswe continues with her duties as detective when she is hired to investigate the suitors for Mma Holonga, a wealthy local woman. Mma Potokwani, the strong-willed matron of the orphan farm, commits a reluctant Maketoni to jumping out of an airplane as a fundraising stunt. A reprieve is granted when his fiance convinces one of Maketoni's somewhat inept young apprentices to jump in his stead. Ramotswe's assistant Mma Makutsi is coming to terms with the recent the death of her brother as she moves into a better house in a nicer area of town.

Always lighthearted and simple, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels are a pleasure for me to read taking a break from the heavier books that seem to collect on my shelves. These are easy to read yet have a practical, good-naturred quality to them that keeps me coming back to them though I often find myself reading them in the wrong order…though this hardly seems to matter too much. Occasionally funny and poignant, I really enjoy this series with this being one of McCall Smith's early outings were things are still very much getting into their groove.

Botswana seen through the eyes of Ramotswe is charming and innocent with the occasional problem that she is called in to put right though she is smart enough to know what life is all about she enjoys her life and this is shown throughout these books. The story and characters though seemingly simple and basic hearken to the world of a gentle, rural, Africa that is seldom troubled by the complex problems of modern western society. This does not, however, mean these problems are by any measure more trivial in nature but rather deal more with a basic sense of decency and compassion - A kinder, gentler world that many never experience.

These books are for reading and do not require a tremendous amount of thought though they are filled with a refreshing gentle compassion and honesty. They will likely never win any literary awards but they are good fun. Pull up a chair, sit back, and enjoy.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2017-04-22

Genre: African

Publisher: Abacus Fiction

Publication Date: 2003

ISBN: 034911725X

Other reviewed books in the 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series:

Other reviewed books by Alexander McCall Smith: