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

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  18,887 ratings  ·  793 reviews
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5. Gaborone, capital city of Botswana. Mma Precious Ramotswe helps indecisive fiancé Mr J.L.B. Matekoni when orphan farm manager Mma Potakwani persuades him to jump out of an aeroplane, and a bullying dishonest competing mechanic calls. Between cups of bush tea, she sorts money grubbing suitors for hair-braiding tycoon.
Paperback, 198 pages
Published January 25th 2005 by Anchor (first published 2003)
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieDeath on the Nile by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieOne for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Best Detective/Mystery Series
251st out of 1,188 books — 1,393 voters
One for the Money by Janet EvanovichChocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne FlukeAbby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria LaurieThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithMurder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Best Cozy Mystery Series
285th out of 928 books — 1,034 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ariana
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...more
Graham
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...more
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...more
Rebecca
Jun 23, 2007 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Diane
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....more
Connie N.
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
I´ve 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.
Sue
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.
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
Aaron
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...more
Jenie
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
Paula
"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
GeekChick
Dec 08, 2008 GeekChick rated it 1 of 5 stars
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...more
Julie Whelan
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...more
Jayne Charles
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
Writerlibrarian
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
Genie
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...more
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...more
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...more
Cheryl
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
Shirin
First off. The book i read is an Abacus version published in 2004. Similar colour schemes but instead of an elephant, my version has 2 rhinos in the water. There is a parachute floating in the backkground on the top left side and on the right, a flying swan. Aside from the parachute i do not see how the rhinos or the elephant are relevant to the title.

Now the story.

Mma Ramotswe is getting worried about her engaged lady status. She has been engaged for a long time and there is no sign of Mr JLB M...more
Emilie
I don't think I got as much out of this book as the previous parts. I usually get tired of a series if I read/watch too much of it in a very short period of time. This is the third book in the series I've read within a month. So naturally, since this was a long-drawn book, I should take a few months off and then continue when I feel like it again.

It also took me a while to write a review. I finished it on April 10th and well, I sort of remember a rich lady wanting advice on which man she should...more
Judy
This book was a gift several years ago (thank you, Krista) and this is the 2nd time I've read it. It's a delightful story with delightful characters, delightful situations and delightful dialogue. I'm afraid to say much more for fear of raising expectations too high. Too late, right?? If you like reading something that will not depress you or scare you or gross you out, just entertain you, then this is the book for you.
Diana
I like this series of books. I think of them as "little stories" and something I can read without straining my brain. The main character, Mma Ramotswe, is a detective and solves mysteries and problems for others. Perhaps I like her because she is "traditionally built".....which means she is short and stout (sort of like me). In this book she finally marries her finace in an ambush wedding.
Enjoyed it.
An Odd1
Precious Ramotswe, traditionally built Botswan lady, supports traditional Botswana morality and daydreams in warm sun. Engaged to Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, she intervenes when orphan farm manager Mma Potokwane convinces him to jump out of an aeroplane for charity, and when competing dishonest mechanic tries to bully him. As detective agency owner, she must sort out money-grasping suitors for rich hair-braiding tycoon Mma Holonga.

Still surprising that the author is male, because females constantly la...more
Shanda
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.
Jenn
I really liked the first three books in this series, but I'm starting to find they are losing steam. I still enjoyed the book, but found some of it a bit repetitious and I felt like Precious investigating only 2 of the 4 men a bit of a cop out in that it was a means to finish up the story quickly. I still plan to read the next books in the series.
Deb
These books are pure and simple joy. It's lines like this that keep me coming back for more: "Mma Ramotswe nodded vaguely. She was not particularly interested in the affairs of the Botswana Secretarial College, although she always listened politely when Mma Makutsi sounded off about such matters. Most people had something in their lives that was particularly important to them, and she supposed that the Botswana Secretarial College was as good a cause as any. What was it in her own case, she wond...more
Leah
This series is comfort reading - predictable characters, pleasant storylines, just well-written enough to keep my interest. At this point in the series the author has strayed from the mysteries and instead focuses on the characters' personal lives, which is probably just as well.

Having said that, I'm not sure how much longer I'll stick with the books. Mma Ramotswe lives in a world of strict stereotypes: Botswana is the greatest country on earth, the "old Botswana morality" is the only acceptabl...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...
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) Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #7)

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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.” 68 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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