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Bookmarks Issue: 
11-July-Aug-2004
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More from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

A-FullCupboardLifeIn the fifth installment of McCall Smith’s bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Mma Precious Ramotswe is still engaged to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, but they’ve made no immediate plans to wed. To her chagrin, "No cattle have been bought for the feast." But even as the Botswana-based private investigator decides how to handle the lack of forward momentum in her relationship, she has other plans brewing. She must support her fiancé’s parachute jump to raise money for orphans and assist the owner of a chain of hair salons to uncover the romantic and financial motivations of four potential suitors. Luckily, there’s always that next cup of bush tea to calm the nerves.
Pantheon. 208 pages. $19.95.

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"Botswana is a place where all worries wash away with a steaming cup of bush tea, where it’s a pleasure to sit in the sun and talk. The Full Cupboard of Life is a treasure of wit and wisdom." Gail Cooke

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[McCall Smith]’s deceptively simple prose … is as supple as ever. … Running through this series is a theme of deep gratitude for the abundance of life, despite what most Westerners would consider appalling poverty and scarcity." Adam Woog

NY Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[The novel] is by no means oppressively sweet, but it is committed to looking on life’s sunny side. And its characters, like the one who watches a special mango ripen on a tree, have a primitivism that is as reductive as it is warm." Janet Maslin

Guardian 4 of 5 Stars
"The magnificent Mma Ramotswe acts on intuition and common sense. … Intelligent without being educated, sophisticated without ever having left her country, sharp without malice, she is a delightful original and an evocative reminder of a calm, leisured way of life that still exists in parts of post-colonial Africa."

Wall Street Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"The greatest mystery in this slim, witty and charming book is whether Mma Ramotswe will succeed in getting her fiancé to name a date for their long-anticipated wedding. It’s hard to conceive of any reader not being just as eager to find out as she is." Tom Nolan

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3 of 5 Stars
"I find myself impatient with its leisurely pace, a bit annoyed with its charming but uncomplicated characters and sighing at its occasional ‘Dick and Jane’ prose." Sharon Eberson

Critical Summary

Mystery lovers titillated by bloody corpses and hard-boiled plots may not enjoy the leisurely pace of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which reflects Botswana’s mellower lifestyle. But these charming cozies, which have sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, offer studies on human nature—wry characters set in dusty towns with small town problems. Critics praise the character development and descriptions of the sun-baked landscape, but a few decried the simple dialogue. We know nothing much will happen, but Mma Precious Ramotswe deals with domestic and professional matrimonial problems with her usual mix of fallibility and neighborly common sense.