Wednesday, May 31

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith

Review by Claire McManus
 
My book club read The Full Cupboard of Life for our meeting last month, and (as I have long been a fan of this series), I felt the need to read the next book in the series!  I like to wait for the softcover version, so I was thrilled to get it for the nicer softcover price.  
 
After the last book, which I enjoyed greatly but found to sometimes stretch the boundaries of believability, I felt that McCall Smith returned to his usual good form in this book.  The introduction of two major new characters (a new employee for the garage/detective agency, and a new beau for the somewhat challenging Mma Makutsi, or as everyone else seems to call her, Mma 97%) breathes fresh life into the series.  Both are very lovely and likable characters who are perfect extensions to the family that Mma Ramotswe likes to surround herself with.  The detective stories seem to be taking an increasing back seat, which isn't really a problem as they've never been the focus of the series anyway.  The mysteries to be solved are usually resolved by someone simply flapping their gums and telling a secret - though, strangely, the mystery that opens the book is never solved (perhaps it will be revisited in the sequel).  One thing that I really enjoyed was the author's increasing exploration of the occasionally moderately contentious relationship between Mma Ramotswe & Mma Makutsi...as Makutsi has come into her own more and more, she has begun to chafe a bit under Mma Ramotswe's direction, and the two occasionally get on each other's nerves.  This is a lovely breath of realism in a series noted for its idealism.  All in all, recommended, though newbies should probably start with the earier books in the series.

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