Monday, December 3, 2007

Taking a Break

Every now and then I do need a respite from the morbidly depressing novels I normally read. One author I can always count on is Alexander McCall Smith. I often recommend his delightful series, The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, to my customers as these books never fail to leave me chuckling. Personally I think that the only way to read them is on CD or download. Lisette Lecat, with her lilting accent, is perfect in the many roles, using subtle vocal changes to reflect each character male or female.
Speaking of the characters....McCall Smith's insight into the little foibles of us weak humans and his penchant for forgiveness of them, is the wonder of these novels. Where I often have trouble caring about those who people "good literature," (think of The Corrections), I never fail to shed a tear over the simple, everyday lives of Botswana's number 1 sleuth, Maa Ramotswe, her assistant Maa Makutsi who has a weakness for pretty, impractical shoes, and Mr. J. L. B. Matakoni, proprietor of the local body shop, who fears he may not be exciting enough for his detective wife.
I'm currently listening to number 8 in the series, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, in which all the characters we've come to know and depend upon seem to be having mid-life crises. Though I think the books can stand alone, it feels better to read them in order, slowly coming to understand the beautiful natures of these people who will become your new best friends.

By my bed I've got a couple of novels I've been hoping to get to, among them The Madonnas of Leningrad, which was a popular book discussion here at the library and an autographed copy of The Whole World Over that I picked up when I met author Julia Glass at Book Expo a year ago. At work I'm half way through The Savage Garden by screenwriter Mark Mills. Well received by reviewers and set in Tuscany, this one naturally caught my attention.

Adam is a less than ambitious Cambridge scholar, inexplicably chosen by his professor to spend the summer in Italy researching the history of a formal garden at the Villa Docci. The elderly signora, owner of the property, guards its secrets on the one hand while opening her villa to Adam on the other. She doles out the information she wants him to have but the gossipers at the local trattoria contradict much of it and Adam begins to surmise that the true history of the villa may be much darker than he's been led to believe. I hope so!


Infobabe said...

I, too, love the Number 1 Ladies series. I tend to read rather than listen but when I was prepping for my book series when I did 1 each week for 5 weeks in a row, I needed to listen for some pronunciations. I enjoyed hearing them as well. I like to bring a new one to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to put me in the mood and because most of the restaurant staff is from Botswana and I try to use polite Setswana terms and greetings.

Sallyb said...

Infobabe, were we separated at birth? I love that you've learned the Setswana greetings. How do staff members react?

Infobabe said...

Of course they are delighted and surprised. They are unaware of the books, but are very gracious about my attempts. Botswana is an amazing country and its history is so different from other places in Africa. As a result, the people have a very different outlook about the "outside" world. When you combine that with people who come to work for Disney...Lovely!