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

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  23,369 Ratings  ·  992 Reviews
Precious Ramotswe, who became engaged to Mr J. L. B. Matekoni at the end of The No. 1 Ladies' Dectective Agency, is wondering if they'll ever name a day for the wedding. But she doesn't want to put too much pressure on her fiancé, as he has other things on his mind - above all a frightening request from pushy Mma Potokwani, matron of the Orphan Farm.

Meanwhile, a wealthy la
Paperback, 198 pages
Published January 25th 2005 by Anchor (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 12, 2008 Ariana rated it liked it
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
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
Oct 09, 2013 Will Byrnes rated it liked it
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
Aug 18, 2012 Ryan James rated it it was amazing
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
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
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.
Sep 17, 2016 Netta rated it really liked it
עוד ספר מוצלח בסדרה המהנה של אלכסנדר מק'קול סמית.
2016 Reading Challenge #37: Sobre una cultura con la que no estoy familiarizado.

Me pareció lindo conocer, a través de una novela de ficción, la cultura de uno de los países de África. Sus costumbres, formas de tratar a las personas, saludos... pero más allá de eso no encontré otro aspecto interesante. Mma Ramotswe es detective, sin embargo en este libro no encontré nada increíble con respecto a su profesión o llegué a entender por qué era tan aclamada, pero claro, este es el quinto libro de un
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.
Blaine DeSantis
Sad to say that this book fell a bit flat on all fronts and it appears that the author at this point in the series is floundering. I know there are a lot more books to go, but things just seem to have stagnated in the series. It takes almost 1/3 of the book before we even get into a detective case and that is well and good in a 350-400 page book, but when they are a mere 200 pages it shows that the cases are really on the back burner of the book. We continue to learn about Botswana, but the time ...more
Khadija Masood
Jun 20, 2016 Khadija Masood rated it it was amazing
The Full Cupboard of Life has rightfully earned a spot on my favourites shelf. Readers will want to devour this book in one sitting. This story brims with warmth and wit. Smith has a deep understanding about human nature and all its eccentricities, and writes with tenderness and humour - a formidable trait in a writer! 5 stars.
Jaana Ylikangas
Jan 07, 2009 Jaana Ylikangas rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 12, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy these little books. I find I get slightly frustrated by the behaviours of a character, or how the story is going for a few pages, then things seem to get ironed out and I am not only "un-frustrated" (if that's even a word...) but I feel very at ease and happy with the world! I can see how these books may irritate some people - they're very 'love or hate' but I'm solidly in the 'love' camp! I couldn't read too many in one go - two's about my limit before getting into something a bi ...more
Barbara M
May 13, 2016 Barbara M rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, bjm, botswana
What a lovely time I had during this visit with my friends in Botswana this week. This audio is just one of the best, with the best narrator in Lisette Lecat. This is no big, dark, mystery like some detective books. It is a gentle, human interest story filled with wonderful characters. I'm totally hooked on this but spread the stories out so I won't finish them too quickly, I want to savor them.

As I saw that the book was coming to a close, I wondered how there was enough time to finish the story
Richard Ward
May 04, 2016 Richard Ward rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the series, especially female fans.
It's called No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5, but is it even a detective novel? It reads more, much more, like literary fiction of the chick lit variety. Still, I enjoyed visiting Botswana and Mma Ramotswe again.
What's not to love about this sweet series? There may be a little more mystery here than usual, but don't read these books for the mystery. Read them for the setting, Botswana, and for the engaging characters, who have some major, but universal, life changes during this edition.

This may also be my favorite series for the times I just want to
read for the comfort and sheer joy of reading. The characters drink a lot of bush tea, and that seems especially fitting for a series that seems to call fo
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
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.
Diana S
Jul 02, 2015 Diana S rated it really liked it
I get warm fuzzies each time I read a book from this series. I love getting to know more tidbits about the lives of the characters, especially Mma Ramotswe, Mr. JLB Matekoni, and Mma Makutsi. The descriptions of Botswana are wonderful. Its feels like I'm right there drinking Bush Tea. :D
Dec 23, 2014 John rated it liked it
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
Jan 27, 2016 Booknblues rated it really liked it
Anytime you have been involved with reading that is heavy or depressing an excellent way to take a break is to visit Botswana and Precious Ramotswe. This is the fifth of McCall Smith's series and an excellent read.
Jul 16, 2015 Sue rated it did not like it
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
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
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
Dec 16, 2012 Juliana Graham rated it it was ok
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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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
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Other Books in the Series

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1 - 10 of 17 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.” 89 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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