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Mma Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in Gaborone, is a much-respected, traditional woman (of "traditional size") who honors the customs of Botswana and tries to solve problems for her clients the "traditional" way--through her broad network of friends and family with whom she can sit down, drink bush tea, and "talk about very small things," as she searches for clues. She is a warm and happy woman of good sense, and her detective agency is a huge success because of her discretion and care for her clients' feelings.
In this novel, full of gentle humor and wisdom, Mma Ramotswe deals with two clients, one of whom committed a minor crime many years ago and for which he now wants to make amends, and one of whom is worried about a philandering husband. Both cases require the utmost in tact and sensitivity. Mma Ramotswe is also concerned with some personal matters. A rival detective agency, run by an aggressive man, opens an office in Gaborone to great fanfare, and he publicly demeans the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in a news feature. Mma Ramotswe's fiancé, Mr. J. L. B. Matakone still has not set a wedding date, though he clearly loves her, and one of the young orphans she and Mr. J. L. B. Matakone are mentoring, begins to have serious behavior problems. In addition, Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe's assistant, who is barely making ends meet with her current jobs, decides to open a typing school for men after work. Mma Makutsi soon falls in love with one of her students, someone Mma Ramotswe finds inappropriate.
Domestic issues and human relationships, rather than exciting plot lines, keep the focus on the characters--beautifully drawn, sometimes flawed, and always forgiven their faults. In a pace as relaxed as life in Botswana, author Alexander McCall Smith recreates the colorful everyday lives of these ordinary people, who treasure friendships, treat each other with respect, and possess inherent good sense. In simple, direct prose filled with homely details, the author celebrates a traditional lifestyle and its values during a time in which change may become inevitable. A warm, relaxing read, filled with the joy of life. Mary Whipple
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on 18 April 2017
Another lovely book. So relaxing and a great pleasure to read.. Alexander McCall Smith's love of Botswana shines from the book and makes me long to visit it.! The book is full of endearing characters especially Precious Ramotswe.
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on 21 June 2017
As usual a good read, gentle yet wonderfully perceptive.
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on 2 August 2017
feel good reading
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on 23 August 2017
Excellent read.
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on 14 October 2014
A Good Read
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on 29 October 2003
This is another book in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series - the series that puts a smile on your face and makes you wish that we could go back to the simple life.
Mma Ramotswe and Mma Rakusi continue to show that unique outlook on life and problem solving that made the series such a joy to read. Maybe the only criticism I have is that Mma Ramotswe's impending wedding is taking a little too long, and her poor fiancee just doesn't have the mental strength of Mma.
Although the story line isn't quite as captivating as the first book, it is still a wonderful read.
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The Kalahari Typing School for Men continues as the fourth installment in the fine series about Botswana's first lady detective, Mma. Precious Ramotswe, which was begun in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and followed by Tears of the Giraffe and Morality for Beautiful Girls. Alexander McCall Smith does a fine job of providing the background from the first three novels in the opening of this one, and the book is almost as stand-alone as The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. The Kalahari Typing School for Men continues several themes in the prior books including the superiority of women over men, the importance of being organized and diligent, following your heart and spirit to do the right thing . . . in the right way, and intriguing questions about what is moral behavior in complex situations.
The book continues its humorous backdrop as Precious finds herself up against an experienced male competitor who opens the Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency. The competitor proves to be very annoying to Precious, and she struggles to maintain her optimism in the face of this new trial.
With Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni back working energetically at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mma. Makutsi finds herself dissatisfied. She's really operating as a secretary to both companies rather than as an assistant detective and acting manager, as she had done before. When a new client shows up and insists on speaking with Precious alone, Mma. Makutsi's unhappiness grows. But she shakes herself off, and finds a new opportunity in establishing The Kalahari Typing School for Men, the most unique educational establishment you will probably ever read about.
Precious deals with two client cases . . . neither of which is really a mystery in the normal literary sense. But deciding how to represent her clients' best interests provides weighty challenges of Biblical proportions.
I was a little disappointed in the book, though. Unlike the earlier three books, it lacks the powerful presence of wild Africa to add character and spice. Increasingly, I felt like I was reading just another comic novel about a woman who is trying to juggle all of the balls at once without dropping one. While that is certainly entertaining, this book lacked the uniqueness that made the other books such continuing and pleasant surprises.
As I finished the book, I thought about the special relationship between novelists and their readers. When a novelist establishes a character and a setting for a series of novels, readers expect that what makes that character and setting precious to them will continue. When a book attempts to go off in a new direction, readers should be glad of the author's willingness to experiment. But I do think that the author should provide a valuable substitute if precious elements are left behind. For example, if this novel had been set in an intriguing new locale because Precious had to move, the pleasure of learning about that locale would have made the book's switch in direction worthwhile.
Novelists, keep your implicit promises to your readers!
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on 24 July 2002
Every bit as enjoyable as the previous Mma Precious Ramotswe tales, The Kalahari School of Typing for Men deals equally well with love, life, private investigation and personal revelation. Alexander McCall-Smith is the only male author I read, which should give you some idea as to why I enjoy his work so much. He combines empathy for his characters with a dry sense of humour - I laughed out loud several times. A natural story-teller, McCall-Smith endears every character to his reader; they may live in Botswana but these are people we all know. It's a rare writer who makes every word count - McCall-Smith never disappoints.
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on 3 May 2004
Even though this book is the fourth in the series about the No. 1 Ladies' Detection Agency, it could easily be picked up and read, not having read the previous three books. The reason is that the author starts the book by giving a good summary, in several pages, of the most important points of the previous books. As good as each book in the series has been, it seems as if every new book is even better!
This book imparts the wisdom of experience through the characters. I actually cried with the characters when they cried. This book finds Precious Ramotswe still unmarried, and Mma Makutsi starting a typing school, and with a boyfriend. The cases taken on are as interesting as always, and their resolutions impart wisdom to the reader. This book left me immediately eager to pick up the fifth book in the series.
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