Friday, September 4, 2009

Review: Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Here is a summary of Blue Shoes and Happiness from Alexander McCall Smith's website:

From universally beloved author Alexander McCall Smith, comes this seventh installment in the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series featuring Botswana’s best-loved detective. Life is good for Mma Ramotswe as she sets out with her usual resolve to solve people’s problems, heal their misfortunes, and untangle the mysteries that make life interesting. And life is never dull on Tlokweng Road. A new and rather too brusque advice columnist is appearing in the local paper. Then, a cobra is found in the offices of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Recently, the Mokolodi Game Preserve manager feels an infectious fear spreading among his workers, and a local doctor may be falsifying blood pressure readings. To further complicate matters, Grace Makutsi may have scared off her own fiancĂ©. Mma Ramotswe, however, is always up to the challenge. And Blue Shoes and Happiness will not fail to entertain Alexander McCall Smith’s oldest fans and newest converts with its great wit, charm, and great good will.

My Review:

This was another enjoyable installment of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency that is chock full of the old Botswana morality. The apprentices are still at work trying to earn their certification and Mma Makutsi is still trying to light a fire under them to give them something to strive for. This book doesn't contain many mysteries for Mma Ramotswe to solve, but it does share plenty of simple life lessons that should be followed by all.

Since Mma Makutsi is now engaged to be married it is sure fun to watch the dynamics from her relationship as it evolves. She has always been such a strong woman, working hard to take care of herself, that I really don't see that aspect of her life changing in the future. Throughout this book it was brought to her attention several times that because she is preparing to marry a successful furniture store owner, that she probably will not need to work any longer. Don't count on her giving up her rank of Assistant Detective any time soon. The relationship does experience a bit of turmoil so you find yourself wondering if Grace Makutsi will be getting married after all.

Several times throughout this book the subject of Mma Ramotswe's unhealthy body weight is brought to her attention. Although she is still referred to as a traditionally built woman, there are more negative undertones in these comments than there have been in the past. As Precious Ramotswe contemplates starting a diet, here is one of her first thoughts about the subject from page 181 that just made me laugh:
Dieting was cruel; it was an abuse of human rights. Yes, that's what it was, and she should not allow herself to be manipulated in this way.

Here is an excerpt from page 97 that gives you a little taste of the old Botswana morality:
Of course one could judge others, and Mma Ramotswe used the standards of the old Botswana morality to make these judgements. But there was nothing in the old Botswana morality which said that one could not forgive those who were weak; indeed, there was much in the old Botswana morality that was very specifically about forgiveness. One should not hold a grudge against another, it said, because to harbour grudges was to disturb the social peace, the bond between people.

After reading these books it was so fun to watch this series when it aired on HBO. They did such a great job of casting characters that fit the descriptions so well. And now I have a good picture of them as I read more of these novels. Mr. Polopetsi has returned in this novel and it will be interesting to see how is character develops in future installments. Several questions about his past have been left unanswered in this book to give him a colorful future in this series.

My book club discussed this one last night and although it was enjoyable, most of the group didn't enjoy this one as much as previous installments. We always look forward to discussing books from this series together and I am sure we will be reading the next one. These books are always such a fun and delightful reading experience, so if you are looking for something quick and light, you might want to look into reading this series.

My Rating: 4/5


L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's an HBO series? Will have to look for it.

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read any of the books in this series in a while. You've made me want to pick up where I left off.

Unknown said...

I did start reading book one in the series a few years back but for some reason I didn't finish. I will have to try the series again.

Blodeuedd said...

haven't read any of these books, but I really should one day, or have a look at the series