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The Full Cupboard of Life Paperback – 2 Jun 2003

145 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon (2 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954407504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954407506
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,384,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful 'No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.

In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' - a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.

Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

Product Description


Forget the library - the body is in the mud hut. An African Marple created by a Scottish law lecturer (Stephen McGinty, THE SUNDAY TIMES)

McCall Smith's familiar tone of wry amusement permeates the narrative, as does the detective's wisdom ... hugely enjoyable. (SUNDAY TIMES)

This is art that conceals art. I haven't read anything with such unalloyed pleasure for a long time (Anthony Daniels, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Highly amusing, intelligent and heart-warming (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)

Book Description

*The fifth in the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series

*Highly original 'detective' stories with unique setting and characters for people who are fed up with aggressive literature which dwells on selfishness, discourtesy and conflict.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Quintilius on 6 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
I got this book yesterday, having pre-ordered it, and have already read it. That's some measure of how much I have enjoyed this series and what a pleasure it has been to renew my acquaintance with some of the most endearingly human characters in contemporary fiction. I understand that Michael Ondaatje has set up a new prize for books which particularly evoke a sense of place and I must say I haven't read may writers that give a better flavour of a particular landscape, history and culture. The new book is no exception to this. Botswana - not somewhere I knew much about before - really comes alive: the light, the smells, the courtesy of the people and their hopes and anxieties. It is not often that I laugh aloud at a book, and even less often do I have a tear in my eye, but this one managed both. To write so simply, humorously and movingly about essentially decent human beings is a rare gift. Alexander McCall Smith has certainly enriched my life with this series.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
The Full Cupboard of Life is the fifth book in the series that features Mma Precious Ramotswe as the owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Botswana. The story features Precious, Mr J.L.B. Maketoni (her fiancé), Mma Makutsi (her assistant and the assistant manager of Mr Maketoni's garage), and Mma Potokwame (the matron of the orphan farm where Mr Maketoni helps out).
If you have not read any books in the series, I suggest that you look instead to begin with the first one (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and work your way through them in the order of their publication (Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, and The Kalahari Typing School for Men). All of those books are better than this one, and provide helpful context for The Full Cupboard of Life.
The Full Cupboard for Life has one detective case in it. Mma Holonga is a successful entrepreneur who has developed a number of beauty parlors for braiding hair in interesting ways and also has created a special formula for treating the hair for braiding. At 40, she realizes that she lacks a husband and child . . . and decides to at least find a husband. But she doesn't want one who is after her money! So she hires Precious to check out her four suitors, beginning with the one she likes best. The case is delicate because Precious is well known in Botswana as a detective, and must avoid having the suitors realize that she is checking them out for Mma Holonga.
Most of the book, however, focuses on the personal lives of the others. Precious finally asks her fiancé when they will marry, and he answers that it will be a year or two before he can save the money for a large wedding. When she offers to sell some cattle to hasten the happy day, he declines her offer. When will they ever marry?
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Claretta VINE VOICE on 8 Dec. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've read all the Ladies' Detective Agency books, and enjoyed them all, but I agree with the reviewers who thought this was the best one so far. The writing seems to me to be more assured, the characters more rounded, and the plotting more convincing. All in all, a delight - I just wish the book had been twice as long! I do hope it isn't the last in the series as two new characters have been introduced, plus there are the orphans ... would love to know more about them. Keep writing, Mr McCall Smith!
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Thank you to Alexander McCall Smith, this was well worth the wait. Rather than losing steam this book gathers a momentum only matched by the very first in the series (which got me hooked). Every chapter takes you to another level and the author manages to do this without keeping you in painful suspense. Almost as if you just happen upon it and then you are so glad you did. I'll say no more. You must read it for yourself. What an ending!! I thought all the great books had been written, and now here I am pining for more. Mr Smith, don't let me wait too long for the next one please.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe on 15 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Precious Ramotswe, Botwana’s No.1 Lady Detective, is usually concerned with other people’s problems and mishaps. She handles these with aplomb, common sense and, sometimes a little pressure… Her usual cheerfulness is rarely put to the test. Yet, when it comes to difficulties in her own life, she is not so well prepared. She has, after all, a position to maintain and this limits her options. Mma Makutsi is her junior in the agency, which makes her unsuitable as a confidante. And Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, she feels, has enough on his plate already to be burdened with more. On one of her regular visits with Mma Potokwani, the pushy matron of the orphan farm to “just sit and talk”, she is advised of the reappearance of somebody from her past. Calamity looms for her and her new marriage.
This latest, sixth, instalment of the delightful series, brings us more of life’s ups and downs of the small community of Precious’ family and friends. Charlie, the young apprentice, seems to be getting into trouble. A minor accident with the tiny white van brings a surprisingly interesting new character into the circle, Mr Polopetsi. He turns out to be quite an asset, quietly working away, and even assisting Mma Ramotswe with her private problems. The white van breaks down, then disappears, leaving Mma Ramotswe in disarray. In the meantime, Mma Makutsi moves into new circles, and takes exploratory steps towards a new life – literally with new shoes.
McCall Smith has a unique style that wraps around the reader like a comforting blanket. We follow the flow and participate in the daily routines and any disruptions of them. McCall Smith’s main subject of interest of this as it was in his previous instalments, are the people.
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