Friday, October 14, 2016

Review of '"The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine" by Alexander McCall Smith

Mma Ramotswe, owner of the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" in Botswana, is gently manipulated into taking a vacation by her assistant Mma Makutsi - who thinks Mma Ramotswe needs a little break. Though Mma Ramotswe is reluctant to leave the agency in the hands of Mma Makutsi - who tends to be stubborn, brash, and undiplomatic - she takes a couple of weeks off. During this time Mma Makutsi is thrilled to take over as Acting Director of the agency.

Mma Ramotswe spends some time cleaning her cupboards, drinking tea and gossiping at a hotel café, and visiting a friend. The detective soon tires of being idle, however, and - in accordance with the old Botswana ways - slips back into helping people. When a spiteful young boy purposely scratches Mma Ramotswe's white van the detective learns that he's being abused by the woman he lives with and takes the matter in hand.

Soon afterwards Mma Ramotswe's friend Rra Polopetsi, a part-time chemistry teacher who's temping at the detective agency, comes to her with a problem. A deceased politician was to have a road named for him, but following the revelation of a secret scandal the road naming was cancelled. The politician's sister asked the detective agency to disprove the (unknown) allegations and Mma Makutsi gave the job to Rra Polopetsi - who doesn't have a clue how to do it. 

Mma Ramotswe worries that Mma Makutsi assigned Rra Polopetsi the political scandal case because she doesn't know how to handle it herself. Mma Ramotswe wants to help Rra Polopetsi but is fearful of offending Mma Makutski, so she secretly looks into the matter - which leads to a sticky situation. 

In addition Mma Makutski's old nemesis, secretarial school classmate Violet Sepotho, is causing trouble again. The shallow, sarcastic (but beautiful and fashionable) woman has opened the "No. 1 Ladies' Secretarial School". This name-stealing is deeply distressing to Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi....but what can they do? 

While dealing with these various situations Mma Ramotswe drinks a lot of bush tea, eats some fruit cake, and exhibits her usual intelligence, common sense, and sensitivity. In the end, everything turns out satisfactorily.

It's always a pleasure to visit with the series' recurring characters, including Mma Ramotswe's husband, garage owner Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni; his mechanic Charlie; Mma Makutsi's husband, furniture store owner Phuti Radiphuti; and Mma Potokwane, director of the Orphan Farm and baker of delicious cakes. All these folks add wisdom to the story. There are even some talking shoes that have their say. 

Overall, a very enjoyable book, highly recommended to fans of the series.

Rating: 4 stars

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