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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 February 2011
The twelfth installment in this beloved series brings together the familiar cast of characters. If you love these books - as I do - it's a delightful read, albeit slightly weaker than some of the others in the series.

This time round, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is investigating the mysterious murder of some cattle. Charlie's girlfriend has given birth to twins but to Mma Makutsi's fury, he is avoiding facing up to the responsibility. Violet Sephotho is running for office and Mma Ramtoswe still can't quite let the memory of her little white van go. And of course - as the title gives away - Mma Makutsi finally marries her long-term fiance Phuti Radiphuti (with her choice of shoes playing an important role).

Mma Makutsi is a character who toes a fine line for me between being likeable and being irritating, and this time round I found myself liking her less than usual. I also felt that Violet Sephotho's storyline was so much an afterthought that it may as well have been left out altogether. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book. It ends with the wedding and with Mma Ramotswe's musings on marriage and life: a warm and comforting note.
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on 30 March 2011
The charm of these stories lies in the lives of the central characters rather than in the cases that are solved by the detection agency. Whilst the injury of cattle is, perhaps, a more realistic case for a private detective than the murders more classic fictional detectives get to solve, the single case handled by Mma Ramotswe in this book is not sufficient. Mma Ramotswe is engaging both as a detective and as a character. Here she seems to be in search of a good case to solve.

To a certain extent I found this to be a book of two halves, with the second part featuring not only the long-awaited wedding of Mma Makutsi, but also the return of the little white van, far more satisfying than the first part.

I have been a fan of this series almost since it started. I enjoyed this one, but it is far from being the best.
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VINE VOICEon 10 March 2011
It seems like years since Mma Makutsi met Phuti, and for the last couple of instalments of No. 1 Ladies I've been wondering if the knot would ever get tied, but as the title possibly hints, all obstacles to their matrimony are finally cleared. I'm growing increasingly surprised to see this series still nestling in the crime section of my local bookshop. The last episode was a little darker than most, but this one is a soufflé made with a can of Heinz tomato soup. Mma Ramotswe has only one case to solve this time around, possibly for the best, as the extended family of her own and her husband's businesses take up most of her energy. As ever, the charm resides in the humanity and gentleness evident on every page. The series's most long running baddie, Violet, never actually appears in person this time, though as she is about to embark on a political career, I suppose we have not seen the last of her.
It would be easy to make snide remarks about this book - nobody who is not already a fan of the series would be converted by this instalment. But none but the most demanding fan is liable to be disappointed. Mma Ramotswe is reunited with at least one old friend missing from the last few episodes, and Charlie, the livelier and more badly behaved of the perpetual apprentices at Speedy Motors, learns an important lesson.
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The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party is the twelfth book in Alexander McCall Smith's No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Mma Ramotswe has plenty to keep her busy as someone is killing cattle on a southern cattle-post, Charlie the apprentice seems to have fathered twins and Grace Makutsi's wedding to Phuti Radiphuti is fast approaching. She also has to wonder if she is seeing a ghost when her tiny white van makes an appearance. Mma Makutsi is faced with a shoe dilemma and shows her usual indignance at Violet Sephotho's latest antics: standing for election. Clovis Anderson's Principles of Private Detection is freely quoted (where can I get hold of a copy?) and Mma Ramotse manages to resolve the issues, big and small, in time for Grace to (finally!) get married. This audio edition is (once again) beautifully read by Adjoa Andoh (takes me back to kindergarten story time.....). Truly a delight to listen to, it will leave the reader feeling good.
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on 14 May 2011
I love Alexander McCall Smith, have read every single book in this series, and have downloaded some of them in addition from Audible.co.uk.

In spite of this, I set aside this book at the end of the last page and sighed. I felt there was no real plot line, the characters are disappointingly two dimensional and somehow not believable as they usually are. In addition, it seemed like the narrative just stumbled to a stuttering end.

I realise I am in the minority, as most readers seemed to enjoy it, but I really feel the author is capable of so much more, as he has proved before.

I really hope his next book in the series (if indeed there in one) will be back up to the standard of the others. I couldn't bear the disappointment otherwise!
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VINE VOICEon 21 April 2011
As many others have, I have followed the adventures of Mma Ramotswe through the twelve books in this series keenly awaiting the next installment. Each book delightfully conveys the joys of living in the calm atmosphere of Botswana, where traditional values of polite behaviour are still appreciated. Whilst it would be easy for a series to become stale, each edition has been able to conjure the same magical joys of the previous books. In this installment Mma Ramotswe investigates the maiming of cattle owned by an overbearing cattle owner, Charlie continues with his apprenticeship and receives lessons in the responsibilites of fatherhood, and Mma Makutsi has a disaster with a new pair of wedding shoes. The charming little white van also undergoes renovation and has a new lease of life. AMS has the rare gift of being able to make the mundane seem interesting in his delicate and understatedly humorous style. Another delightful installment.
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on 19 April 2011
I have bought and read all of the previous No1 Ladies' books, have the DVD TV adaptation, loved them all and really looked forward to the next installment in this series.

Alexander McCall Smith's description of all the characters and Botswana are so detailed and imaginative its as though you are actually know them all and are there and for me this book did have some laugh out loud moments(got some very strange looks on the tube!!). I do wish he would have gone into the rivalry between Grace and Violet some more rather than Violet being in the background as she was especially with Violet seeming to have political aspirations and Grace's intense dislike of 40% Violet and her attempt of trying to steal her fiance and she's such a snob too or is he saving this for a future book - I do hope so.

I'm so glad that I can actually relax and read a series that has been an absolute joy without the author resorting to writing about sex, gratuitious violence and swearing to sell his books.
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Fortified by redbush tea, Botswana's No.1 lady detective Mma Ramotswe investigates more cases. (Rather fewer this time actually). Expect no speed from one so traditionally built. She gets there eventually, but at her own pace.

"Associate Detective" Mma Makutsi's wedding plans tend to dominate. There is, though, the matter of mutilated cattle - not to mention Speedy Motors apprentice Charlie's refusal to accept responsibility for twins he allegedly sired. Almost surreal are sightings of Mma Ramotswe's beloved, long gone, white van. Surely vehicles cannot reappear as ghosts?

Unashamedly this good-humoured series takes time to linger and reflect, Mma Ramotswe so often lost in thought. All those around are but specks in the overall scheme of things - hopefully destined to meet again cherished late others in a heaven closely resembling the Botswana she so greatly loves....

Some may regret so little seems to happen, others regarding this as the Botswana way, part of the series' charm. Completely won over, I relish every life-affirming moment - the feel-good wedding here a perfect climax.
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To my mind, these books just get better with age. McCall Smith writes at such a gentle, leisurely pace, in what I think of as Botswana time, you just can't rush them. These are gentle books to be savoured. These are books which make you take a holiday from the frenetic pace at which normal life is lived, and that is one of their great joys.

If I were to tell you what happened in the book, it would take me no more than a couple of lines, but that is not the point. The point is that you become immersed in the lives of Mma Ramotswe, Mmma Potokwani and Mma Makutsi, and you don't really care about big events. This is a book about the appreciation of daily life and just how wonderful it can be.

In this particular episode Mma Ramotswe investigates the savage murder of some prize cows. She also receives news of her little white van. Mma Makutsi prepares to finally get married to Phuti Rhadiputi, and Charlie wrestles with his conscience.

The Botswana sun continues to shine, Mma Potokwani still makes excellent fruit cake and I count my blessings for another chapter in such a joyful series.
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on 22 April 2012
Having enjoyed all the other Ladies' Detective Agency books, I was a little disappointed in this one. What was once an ongoing story is now turning into a soap opera. There is only one detective case, and most of the story revolves around the personal lives of the characters. However, the children appear to have become a problem for the author. Having two children with difficult backgrounds, one of whom is disabled, would be an almost full time job, yet they are rarely mentioned, and the evil Violet keeps popping up as a comedy villain. I also found the white van story rather desperate - the van was declared a write-off by Mr Matekoni, "the best mechanic in Botswana", yet an amateur purchaser manages to restore it to as good as new. Perhaps it is time for Mr McCall Smith to put this series to bed and concentrate on something else. It would be sad to see it drift into absurdity.
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