This is one of my all-time favorites. Overweight Ellie Simons hires Bentley T. Haskell to pose as her boyfriend for a weekend visit to her uncle's estThis is one of my all-time favorites. Overweight Ellie Simons hires Bentley T. Haskell to pose as her boyfriend for a weekend visit to her uncle's estate. He dies and leaves the estate to them if Ellie can loose weight and Bentley write clean and decent book and they both can solve the mystery. It was such a zany idea especially when the protagonists become attracted to each other. Ellie, especially, is a very well developed character and the action in the book is zany and fun. All in all, it's a pleasant way to spend a few hours. ...more
This is absolutely my favorite of this series...maybe even one of my favorite books! Precious has the same feelings for her little white van as I hadThis is absolutely my favorite of this series...maybe even one of my favorite books! Precious has the same feelings for her little white van as I had about my red Thunderbird. I actually found myself getting teary eyed. I've become a fan of red bush tea and feel like I am sitting down with her whenever I drink it.
These books are especially good to listen to in audio book form. The cadence of the language adds even more atmosphere to the book. Despite the title, these are really not detective stories or mysteries. They are really more like a chat with a friend who is unusually wise. The characters are so real that you feel you know them and the problems posed in the book contain a philosophy of life that I love.
This is at least my 4th reading of this book and each time I see new things in it. Young Pip is orphaned and living with his short-tempered sister andThis is at least my 4th reading of this book and each time I see new things in it. Young Pip is orphaned and living with his short-tempered sister and his friend and brother-in-law, Joe Gargery. There are two events in his childhood that shape the rest of his life. While he is out on the moors, he is accosted by an escaped prisoner and made to bring him some food under threat of death. He does this, but the consequences in his home are dire.
The next event comes about when he is summoned to meet Ms. Haversham and her ward, Estella in a setting so creepy that it would take the imagination of Dickens to come up with it. Pip is to come to tea and visit with Estella whenever he is summoned.
Years later, as a young man, he is summoned by a lawyer and told that he has "Great Expectations" and that he is to be sent to London and raised as a gentleman. It seems apparent to Pip that his benefactor must be Ms. Haversham and that he is destined to marry Estella. He feels that this must by why she had him come and visit when he was a child.
The rest of the story revolves around the education of Pip in not only schoolwork, but in life. He makes new friends and loses them and he leaves behind old friends and mourns their passing out of his life too late.
I love Dickens. There is no other author who has given the world such well known and instantly recognizible characters. His books are filled with characters so real that we feel that they must have existed in the flesh. How can Scrooge or Tiny Tim not have existed? There are people who feel that Dickens is too wordy, which may be true if your goal is to just get to the end, but Dickens is to be sipped and savored. His characters need to live in your imagination and act of their own accord. Taking up Great Expectations is like visiting an old friend....more
**spoiler alert** This is the first of these books that I listened to on a CD and I highly recommend it. I've loved the series from the beginning, but**spoiler alert** This is the first of these books that I listened to on a CD and I highly recommend it. I've loved the series from the beginning, but hearing the book read with the right pronunciation and the gently flowing voice of the reader makes them even better.
Again, this book is not about the mystery or the plot. It is a slice of the life of Mma Precious Ramotswe and the people who surround her. The book is filled with bits of philosophy and down to earth wisdom. Each of the characters is more developed, but none as much as Mma Potokwane, director of the large orphanage. Botswana has the highest percentage of AIDS/HIV cases in Africa, or in the world. Vast numbers of children are left orphans and while this book does not devote a lot of time to the problem, it is an ever present reality. Mma Potokwane is a large overbearing woman of great heart and soul. She loves her orphans and has had to beg, borrow and steal to get their needs met. She takes advantage of Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni terribly, but with the best intentions. He has repaired just about anything that has an engine and a lot more besides. Still, she genuinely loves, Mr. Matekoni and is willing to mastermind the long awaited wedding with Mma Ramotswe. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book was a little different from the previous ones and I think I felt a little threatened when Mma Mkutsi left the agency. I co**spoiler alert** This book was a little different from the previous ones and I think I felt a little threatened when Mma Mkutsi left the agency. I could almost hear myself saying, "Oh, no, this is my island of security! This is the wonderful, enduring, changeless land in Botswana that speaks to me through the old friends of this book. I don't want anyone to go away! Even Charlie is necessary. Don't change what's working!!!"
But then, even change is necessary to pique the interest and create tension. I have to tell you that I was very relieved when the problems were resolved and everyone got back in their places. I missed hearing more about Phuti Radiphuti and I expect that Smith will have to add another book to round out that character.
I have come to love Botswana as seen through the eyes of Mma Ramotswe. Here love of her country, the endless land, the wide big skies, the cattle and the simple needs of its people. I know things are changing and there are horrible problems with AIDS/HIV, but they are all played out on a background of the enduring land that Smith has managed to reproduce for us....more
There are so many great reviews of these books that it is hard to not be repetitive. This book was one of my favorites because of Mma Makutsi and herThere are so many great reviews of these books that it is hard to not be repetitive. This book was one of my favorites because of Mma Makutsi and her "blue shoes." Like so much else in Smith's books, the shoes are a vehicle for philosophy. There is a contrast between Mma Ramotswe's contented life and Mma Makutsi's need driven one. Mma Ramotswe sits under trees and looks at the land with such contentment and joy. She doesn't escape from her problems, but she does let the land put them into perspective. When I am reading these books, I am reminded to step back and thank God for all my blessings. I want to follow her example and live my life consciously instead of piling up task after task, goal after goal.
Here's a great example. I am a retired teacher and librarian. I homeschool my grandchildren, but it is now summer and I don't even have lesson plans to do. For the last four hours I have explored Goodreads and written reviews of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books trying to understand what they have taught me and why I like them. Still there is a little gremlin in my head telling me to stop indulging myself and get up and do some real work...like cleaning. Now, my house is just fine. There are things out of place, but there are no roaches, no visible dirt piles or much dust on furniture. Why would I feel that it was just play to stop and think about all the things I have learned from these books and to put them into words? Why would I feel that it is more valuable to sweep this almost clean floor, chase a bit of dust, and get rid of some clutter? I think that is what I like about Mma Ramotswe. She reminds me of what is important...and Mma Makutsi takes a giant step in realizing that in this book....more
Reading these books is more like visiting with friends. If you are looking for action and plot, this will not really appeal to you, especially if youReading these books is more like visiting with friends. If you are looking for action and plot, this will not really appeal to you, especially if you have read some of the others. These books are more of a slice of life.
This was one of my favorites because of the depression that overcomes Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni. It comes over him so gradually and the people who love him are so concerned for him. I could almost feel myself becoming concerned for him also. Since I suffer from depression from time to time (not just the blues) I found the characterization very good. It's hard to portray how abnormal a person's thinking becomes and Smith does a great job. It's easy to stand on the outside and tell the depressed person to get out and visit friends, but the sick person feels that no one would like to be around him and that he is a burden to his friends; he thinks they would all sigh with relief if he got out of their lives.
And that brings up another thing I like about these books. The people are not perfect. They are a combination of the good and the bad and they all struggle to get along in the best way possible. They don't just walk away from each other either. ...more
Since so many people are writing reviews about these wonderful books and discussing the plot, I think I will talk about Africa and especially the waySince so many people are writing reviews about these wonderful books and discussing the plot, I think I will talk about Africa and especially the way Mma Ramotswe feels about her home and her people. Reading these books has given me the same feeling I got from the beginning of Out of Africa and Cry, the Beloved Country. There is such a deep love of the land in these characters and I find myself wanting to be there with them. I also find myself remembering how I felt in Mississippi in the days of my childhood. There seemed no better place to be. Life was filled with troubles, but there was always the land and free and easy friendships to help me along. I think that may be what we all are relating to, or at least it is to me.
I also am reminded of a time in our lives where we were not so mobile and people lived in areas where we weren't homogenized. We had to learn to not only get along with some of the more unique and prickly members of our community, but often come to value them. I feel like my life was made much richer by relating to a local alcoholic who got saved at least twice a year, or the man who named all his sons after himself and called them each by nicknames to keep them straight. (I'm not kidding. There were four and they all had the same names.) We visited with people of varying ages and classes and our lives were made richer in a way that watching television in the evening never could. Maybe that is why these books appeal. I'm tired of Hollywood's two dimensional characters and long for what Mma Precious Ramotswe has....more
In this book, Mma Makutsi, is becoming a better defined character. She is always looking for a way to use her training at secretarial school and her eIn this book, Mma Makutsi, is becoming a better defined character. She is always looking for a way to use her training at secretarial school and her extraordinary 97% score. She decides that men need to know how to type in this computer age and thinks that they are reluctant to study with females in their class because they have come lately to a skill that has been associated with women in the past. She begins her school and is delighted to find that it is very successful.
Mma Patience Ramotswe meets her new competition with poise and grace and triumphs because of her compassionate in insightful nature. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni seems reluctant to set a date for the wedding after his depression and that is of some concern, but it all works out in the end.
This book, like the rest, is not about the crime solving. Most of the problems are typical, but not necessarily easily solved. They are mainly used as a vehicle to participate in the characters lives. Again and again loyal readers come back to check on our friends lives and enjoy visiting and drinking bush tea....more
I love this book! I think I have read it 3 times. Every time a new one comes out, I go back and read them all again. I think that's because these bookI love this book! I think I have read it 3 times. Every time a new one comes out, I go back and read them all again. I think that's because these books are not about plot, they are about relationships. Precious Ramotswe is a wonderful character and I would truly love to meet her. The books are beautifully written and remind me of Alan Patton's, Cry the Beloved Country. Both have captured the timelessness of Africa.
Precious Ramotswe solves problems for her clients, but the work of the agency is more like a vehicle to express the daily life and philosophy of an extraordinary woman. Her kindness and simple wisdom are a refreshing change from the hard-driving, iconoclastic female detectives that are so popular. I absolutely fell in love with her...even more so when I found some of the bush tea that makes up such a big part of her day. (It is actually delicious and I have been haunting the Internet to find more.) Do yourself a favor and sit down with a cup of tea and meet a new friend. ...more
Self-centered Matilda has to go and work with a healer; work that she finds beneath her, but Red Peg wisely lets her help until she begins to look atSelf-centered Matilda has to go and work with a healer; work that she finds beneath her, but Red Peg wisely lets her help until she begins to look at the patients as individuals and sees how she can make them feel better. The story is told with vivid images from Medieval days which make history come alive. This book is great for older children and young adults of any age. ...more