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The Full Cupboard of Life (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5)

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  22,033 Ratings  ·  934 Reviews

Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional c
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Published April 20th 2004 by Anchor (first published 2003)
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Mar 12, 2008 Ariana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun, detective
I am only half-way through this book now, but I am really enjoying it. I think Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni are the sweetest couple. I'd say it's more a literary fiction novel than a mystery, but I don't mind. I love the voices of all the characters, but especially the one belonging to Mma Ramotswe. One of my favorite quotes from her is:

"Traditional Botswana men like ladies who are more traditionally shaped. You and I, Mma. We remind men of how things used to be in Botswana before these
Jul 27, 2010 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With each book that goes by, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series seems to feel more confident, more assured and somehow more relaxed. By this stage, the author has an almost perfect grasp of his background and characters, and there is so little to add about the situation that he has plenty of time for ruminations on various aspects of modern life. It's a story full of digression, but the digression is what makes this book so endearing.

Once again this is an ode to the beauty of Botswana, pe
Will Byrnes
Mma Rwatse continues to wonder why her fiancée is so reluctant to tie the knot, while taking on a case for a rich woman who wants Precious to check out several beaus to see who is after her money and who is honest. Matekoni is tricked by the head of the orphanage into agreeing to skydive as a way of raising money for the children.

One can feel the series beginning to run out of steam. How many times can the author laud the benefits of a traditional culture before it sounds a bit like a broken re
Ryan James
I cannot get enough from this series. It prompted us to actually go to Botswana. It is as fabulous as Smith describes it.

This book is simple in structure, which at first may make one think it is a children's or young adult book. In essence, it can be enjoyed by all age groups. It is culturally rich, bring the values and landscape so close to the reader's senses, you can see, feel, and admire the people of Botswana.

Fall in love with Botswana.

To thoroughly enjoy the book, start with The Number On
Jun 23, 2007 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for light reading
Shelves: fiction
One of the best parts of Alexander McCall Smith’s series is that each book improves in terms of character definition and advancing the plot. Book 5 integrates Precious Ramotswe with the other characters in a more realistic and intriguing way. The author hints at the distinctions we must draw between manipulation and persuasion (in the character of Mma Potokwane), fear and caution (with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s never-ending engagement to Mma Ramotswe), and speaking one’s mind and biting one’s tongu ...more
Feb 15, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The secret to reading the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is to realize that nothing much is going to happen and to accept that it doesn't matter. Nothing much happens in this particular book, The Full Cupboard of Life, that is until the plot picks up steam toward the end, but the characters are still captivating and the depiction of life in Botswana draws the reader in.

Andrew McCall Smith gives sweet-natured characters flaws, a smart move on his part. Otherwise, Precious Ramotswe and Mr.
Connie N.
May 21, 2013 Connie N. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing new here, but then I didn't expect it. That's OK. When I choose a No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book, I'm prepared for a little bit of detective work, but now each book seems to be more about relationships and life too. Very relaxing and enjoyable read, as always. But what fun that there is a wedding at the end. I never get tired of these people and am looking forward to finding out what happens next in their world.
Jaana Ylikangas
Jan 07, 2009 Jaana Ylikangas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ive read these all because they are absolutely charming, laid-back atmosphere stories. McCall Smith is one of those who have a rare ability to write as if he was a woman. His stories influenced me to become a regular rooibos drinker. ...more
Chance Lee
I've been very distracted over the last couple weeks, so I didn't give this one the attention I normally do. However, I found this one funnier than some of the others, with Mr. JLB Matekoni getting roped into a parachute jump and Mma Ramotswe investigating what is basically Bad Girls Club: Botswana.

Good quotes: If you could not count on other people to mean what they said, or to do what they said they would do, then life would become utterly unpredictable. The fact that we could trust one anoth
Sep 18, 2012 Shanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite quote of all time from these books ....

"Traditional Botswana men like ladies who are more traditionally shaped. You and I, Mma. We remind men of how things used to be in Botswana before these modern-shaped ladies started to get men all confused."

Love it and the sweet characters in this book - something so happy and comfortable to read.
Dec 23, 2014 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find an odd comfort in the simple Ladies Detective Agency stories--I enjoy the characters and learning a little more about Botswana and Southern African life, which, given my reading list, is an obvious interest.

Nonetheless, I have started to experience a certain frustration with the stories. The plots seem unfinished, incomplete. For example, in #3, one of the underlying mysteries (the origins of the orphan boy) is never resolved. In #4, we never find out the source of Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni's
Jul 16, 2015 Sue rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This was the last of the series I would ever attempt. It was too much like all the others so I finally gave up and decided I would never pick up another. Never have!! This was in 2005.
Jan 02, 2015 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many things to like about this book, the first I've read by the author. Characters are largely likeble, setting is charming, and the story, while slow and easygoing, is also charming. The writing style got in my way a bit, though. I honestly felt like I had picked up "Go, Dog, Go!" for adults. Characters were, without exception, called by their full names (and I do mean full: i.e., Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni). There is hardly a contraction to be found in the book. Maybe this is the way spoken ...more
Oct 02, 2015 Karishma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book in the No. 1 Detective Series, I really liked this book. I went through the book not because I was looking forward to what was the next case but more for just how her life was progressing and in that aspect the book did not disappoint me. Of course, the case storyline itself was weak but that did not matter as it was more about her life and living in Africa in general. This book made me chuckle and smile a lot. I love the phrase traditionally build!! As one reviewer said and I quote ...more
Juliana Graham
My review will probably be quite similar to my last review of an Alexander McCall Smith book - though I possibly enjoyed this one a little less. Firstly, as many others have commented, there was hardly any 'detection' in this book - the one and only case involved 4 gentlemen who needed to be checked for their suitability for marriage. Mma Ramotswe had only investigated 2 of them by the end of the book but this was fine for the client, for reasons I cannot go into here for fear of 'spoiling'. How ...more
Oct 05, 2009 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mma Ramotswe is back on the case. This time she has been hired to help a woman in finding out where she stands with her various beaus. Mma Ramotswe is not sure she understands why a woman would want to have four boyfriends, but she is more than willing to help. The goal is to find out whether the men truly care for her or if they are only dating her because of her wealth.

Her fiance, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is also busy. After helping her out with some work on her van, it comes to his attention that
Mar 11, 2012 Scribblegirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This 5th book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is even more short on mystery than the first 4, and that's saying something. I don't read them for the mystery, so that's not a serious problem, but it did rather feel as if McCall Smith got bored with the whole thing and just decided to wrap it up halfway through. In addition, McCall Smith is starting what is for me a distressing trend, which is a tendency toward serious digression. I found his Corduroy Mansions virtually unreadable for all th ...more
Jul 28, 2007 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni are still engaged, but with no immediate plans to get married. Mma Ramotswe wonders when a wedding date will be named, but she is anxious to avoid putting pressure on her fiancé. For indeed he has other things on his mind--particularly a frightening request (involving a parachute jump) made by Mma Potokwani, the persuasive matron of the orphan farm. Mma Ramotswe herself has weighty matters on her mind, including a case in which a wealthy woman wonders whethe ...more
Dec 08, 2008 GeekChick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of #1 Ladies Detective Agency
Shelves: fiction
This series generally serves me well as brain candy interspersed among my more serious reads. Though they are generally rather similar, they are always entertaining.

However, for some reason the author has decided in this book he needs to summarize all the preceeding storyline in greater detail. I found I had to skim many pages to get past it, and get on with THIS book. I found this summary rather odd and out of place, given that the other books seem to provide the "catch up" in only a few senten
Julie Whelan
Oct 29, 2009 Julie Whelan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booksread
McCall Smith's books are such a blessing. The characters spring to life upon the page and we feel we would know them if we bumped into them on the street. They are so wise. Mma Rotswane is so wise and yet we see her struggle between what she thinks is right, proper, and polite and what she wants. Mr. JLB Matekoni is such a fine man, so gentle and caring but so dominated by strong women such as Mma Potokwane the matron of the orphan farm. But even she is a godsend finally pulling him out of his i ...more
Ragini Deshpande
This is another great one by Alexander Mccall Smith. I love this series of charming , laid back stories set in Botswana. They are beautiful , take me to the beautiful setting in Africa and puts my mind at ease. I can see myself sitting under a big acacia tree , sipping bush tea:)

In this one ,Mma Ramotswe manages to persuade Charlie , the apprentice at speedy motors to make a parachute jump in place of Mr J L B Matekoni who is terrified to do it himself , but has given a word. At the same time s
Jayne Charles
Aug 04, 2011 Jayne Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has read this far in the series will have decided they like the simple narrative style, quiet wisdom and gentle humour of the stories. This one is no exception and should not disappoint. I particularly like the way the author takes a facet of Western culture (eg the tendency to avoid eye contact with others) and contrasts it with the custom in Botswana, showing along the way that of course Botswana has it right! My only complaint is that the book cover needs to make it clearer which n ...more
Comfort reading. That's what this series is for me. In this we found Mma Ramotswe involved in a rather sensitive case of a woman who needs to find out which of her suitors is really interested in her. Not all truths are good to know and sometimes we do not want to really know the facts. Everything is centered around this. The way Mma Potokwani manipulates the truth to get what she wants for the greater good of course of the orphans, how Mma Makutsi knows that her new place is not this be all to ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Genie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great series. This story was particularly eventful.

Precious Ramotswe is hired by Mma Holonga, the owners of a chain of hair salons, to do a background check on four suitors to see which were only interested in her money.

Mma Potokwane decides the Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni should don a parachute and sky dive as a fund raiser for the orphan farm. Mma Ramotswe cleverly devises a way to transfer this duty to one of the mechanic apprentices, Charlie. Its amazing what this young man will do to win
Pendred Noyce
I keep reading the Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana books, but they're a guilty pleasure. Smith's Botswana is a small town, full of quirky human types and aphorisms; the mystery aspect takes a distant second place to the gentle social satire (especially in this book, where there is very little detection of any kind).

The guilt comes from my worry that Smith's view of his African characters is rather colonial; they are terribly simple in their faith, their philosophizing, and their attempts at g
Dec 19, 2015 Muphyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who have read the other books in the series
After reading The Kalahari Typing School for Men I found this one even better - in fact, this one was hilarious and I actually chuckled quite a lot..

Still, McCall Smith has a slightly annoying tendency to spend a chapter on setting up a story and then forgets to develop it properly. Sometimes it just fades into oblivion, other times he deals with it quickly later. Like the one about Mma Holonga's suiters - I thought there were four to investigate but never mind... why write about four if you can
Apr 01, 2015 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi! Strong women with strong morals and voice!
Jul 28, 2011 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so enjoying this series of books (The No. 1 Ladies Detective series)! They are delighfully light reads after a long, hard day. I feel like curling up with a cup of bush tea (whatever that is) whenever I'm reading these -- or I would if it wasn't 100 degrees here! These are a far cry from what I usually read, but I am learning to appreciate light reading and to truly relax and ENJOY a book rather than always reading to be informed or socially conscious. Recommended for anyone who needs to de ...more
Samantha Dewhurst
I enjoy reading the stories of Mma Ramotswe and co and it gives me a break from my usual crime/thriller genre. This is the 5th book in the series and I will be reading the 6th! It ended in the middle of the wedding of Mr JLB Matekoni and Mma Ramotswe so it leaves us wanting more!!
The LDA did take a bit of a back seat again but there was an investigation for Mma Ramotswe although this time it involved a woman asking for help choosing a husband. The woman had a list of 4 men for Mma Ramotswe to i
Kay Carman
The stories in this book, the fifth in The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency, are rather slight compared to some of the earlier titles. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni is pressured by that pushy orphan farm matron, Mma Potokwane, into committing to a parachute jump to rainse money for the orphanage. He just about dies of fright and anxiety before his fiance appeals to the vanity of the older apprentice, Charlie, who agrees to take his place since Mma has assured him he will gain the attention of many young wome ...more
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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what ...more
More about Alexander McCall Smith...

Other Books in the Series

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1)
  • Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #2)
  • Morality for Beautiful Girls (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #3)
  • The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #4)
  • In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #6)
  • Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #7)
  • The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #8)
  • The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #9)
  • Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #10)
  • The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #11)

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“We all know that it is women who make the decisions, but we have to let men think that the decisions are theirs. It is an act of kindness on the part of women.” 87 likes
“Traditional Botswana men like ladies who are more traditionally shaped. You and I, Mma. We remind men of how things used to be in Botswana before these modern-shaped ladies started to get men all confused.” 24 likes
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