Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Back from Botswana

Yes, I recently had the pleasure of eavesdropping at the Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party in Gaborone and, once again, I'm so sorry that Botswana can't be included in my ambitious African vacation later this year. Perhaps someday I'll be able to return and soak up the peaceful, laid back life lovingly described by Alexander McCall Smith in his No. 1 Ladies Detective series.

Though the plot was a little thinner than usual, perhaps owing to the fact that there doesn't really seem to be much crime in Gaborone, the lilting voice of Lisette Lecat, who's been doing an outstanding job of narrating these books for years now, is the perfect antidote for endless trips up and down route 41 in Southwest Florida.

For me, at least, the draw will always be the author himself. I never cease to marvel at Smith's insightful grasp of our shared human condition and of the female mind in particular. One can't help but adore Grace Makutsi, once secretary to Ma Ramotswe, now second in command as assistant detective, as she shops for the perfect pair of shoes for her wedding day.
A woman who struggled with poverty, about to be married to Phuti Radiphuti, respected business owner, Grace is in the unusual situation of being able to shop without a thought to the cost, a happenstance that she takes very seriously.

Smith's love and respect for people with all of their foibles, weaknesses and strengths is so endearing. I've seen various PBS documentaries with Smith in which he takes audiences on tours of the Okavango, Delta, introduces us to the local leaders, and simply overflows with appreciation for the land where he was raised.
 If you've never read any of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series then you really must begin at the beginning. Once you get to know the characters then you can bounce around without any loss of enjoyment. Oh, and do see the delightful film starring Jill Scott. I'm anxiously awaiting a sequel.

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