Friday, May 01, 2009

The Cupboard Full of Life - Alexander McCall Smith

I actually wanted to call today’s blog ‘Precious Time With Precious Ramotswe’ for that is exactly what it has been but am sticking to the formula of the books title but the thought was there. I had some really good reads in April (I will do a month review when have a spare moment) but the last couple of weeks, bar The White Tiger, nothing has completely blown me away. The longer books have taken a lot longer to read than I anticipated, partly because they were quite heavy (says the man who is trying Midnight’s Children this weekend) and I needed some gentle relaxing escapism. You can never go wrong with Alexander McCall Smith for just that, actually I didn’t love the 44 Scotland Street first book; maybe I need to dip into those again at some point?

The Cupboard Full of Life is the 5th in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series which I would imagine everyone is aware of even if they have never read one. We find the delightful Precious Ramotswe, the owner of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, contemplating when exactly it is that she is going to get married. Her fiancé (of the longest engagement) J.L.B Matekoni has his own problems; he has somehow been pushed into doing a parachute jump to raise money for the local orphanage. So where I hear you cry is the detecting.

Well in all honesty I was wondering that in this book as well. I personally am only too happy to just sit and read Precious Ramotswe talk to her friends and observe life, but I do like it when she goes investigating and in this book there is only one case; a case of a woman who has many suitors. Mma Holonga is an owner of a very successful chain of hairdressing salons and has suddenly realised she is in her forties with no husband, Before she knows it she has four and cannot work out which of them has the genuine motives, will Precious Ramotswe be able to help? (Naturally I am not going to tell you or you won’t read the book.)

Having read the series in order (as you all know I do) I have to say though I loved it and truly escaped something seemed to be missing and I don’t just mean the crimes. My very favourite character Mma Makutsi doesn’t even appear until about seventy pages in and the two foster children were hardly in it at all and yet there seemed to be too many characters and mini plots going on which though made it very easy to read (and it was) made it slightly less addictive than its predecessors. I would give it 3.5/5 though I certainly haven’t been put off reading the next in the series.

I do actually have it on good authority that the next book In The Company Of Cheerful Ladies is a cracker as bizarrely out of all the books I have had out of my bag over the last few weeks this is the one that the most people have started talking to me about, which only goes to show just how popular they are. How have you all found the series if you have had a go at it? Don’t give anything away though please - no plot spoilers!

What have you made of the television series? I have to say I wouldn’t have cast Jill Scott as Precious as she is too young compared to the Precious in my head but I think Anika Noni Rose is wonderful and spot on perfect as Mme Makutsi and very oddly almost exactly as I had imagined she would be (even funnier in fact). The show itself did nothing for me at first, and then it completely won me over, before loosing me again with a rather limp ending. Why can’t books be made into great TV shows or films? I will be watching The Name of the Rose tonight so wonder if, as many people have said, this will be a change to that rule. I’ll report back in due course.

6 comments:

claire said...

I have been wanting to read the No 1 Ladies for a few years now but somehow I wanted to purchase them used, and I never seem to find the first book. I don't want to start on Book No 2. So I'll wait until then. Even the library here starts at Book 2. How weird is that? Lol. Anyway, I saw the newest installment at the library the other day, but of course, though tempting, I didn't get it. Instead I checked out La's Orchestra..

I won't be watching the tv series probably. I'm a read first person. Haven't seen The Name of the Rose movie either. Am curious how you'll find it. :D

candyschultz said...

I could not get the Ladies at all. I never even managed to finish the first one. Aren't they making a film out of it?

I have three Kate Atkinson books and I think I should broach them instead. Of course, and its all your fault, I am now deeply immersed in Foucault's Pendulum and loving it as much this time as both times before.

farmlanebooks said...

I have only read the first one in this series, and didn't think it was anything special, so haven't gone on to read the rest.

It was OK, a bit of light escapism, but as you know I'm very fussy and it just didn't make my read-the-rest-of-the-series-grade. There are too many other great books out there!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've heard alot about this series, especially since they just aired it on HBO about a month ago (I didn't see it). I thought I heard they WERE making a movie out of it as well, but don't remember the specifics. If I were to read the series, I would have to start with number 1 or I would have no peace.

Dot said...

I love these books but I felt exactly the same about this one, there was definitely something missing. I am going to have a little break from them and try the next one soon!

No 1 Ladies Detective Agent said...

i agree - totally love no 1 ladies detective agency!