What wonderful, lovely, thoroughly enjoyable book! This story is a rare and much-needed departure from the mediocrity of most contemporary fiction. Th...moreWhat wonderful, lovely, thoroughly enjoyable book! This story is a rare and much-needed departure from the mediocrity of most contemporary fiction. The author's tongue-in-cheek social commentary smacks of a modern Jane Austen, and her well-intentioned but endearingly flawed characters are as comfortable and familiar as those of Alexander McCall Smith.
Simonson gives us a clear-eyed, unapologetic look at how people truly think and interact (in the context of the full spectrum of life experiences), which makes the characters so real and relatable. This is not just a love story, but a story about pursuing happiness despite the deterrent of rigid social rules, fighting for love at all costs, overcoming bigotry, learning who your friends are, discovering your own self, and learning to love your family as they are. This is a tall order for any story, but it was managed with skill and subtlety.
On top of all this warmth-inducing content, the book was excellently written in terms of technique and style.
These are not qualities you often find in one novel. That makes Major Pettigrew's Last Stand essential reading, in my opinion, and well deserving of a place on anyone's bookshelf. I plan on buying my own copy after reluctantly returning this one to the library, so that I can read it as many times as I want - and maybe even lend it out to a few trustworthy friends.(less)
Excellent book. I am much more interested in raw/living foods after reading through this, and I need to get my hands on some more books by her and sim...moreExcellent book. I am much more interested in raw/living foods after reading through this, and I need to get my hands on some more books by her and similar authors.(less)
This was a particularly good installment. There seems to be room for another, too, which I'm glad about. I really liked reading Bruce's story in this o...moreThis was a particularly good installment. There seems to be room for another, too, which I'm glad about. I really liked reading Bruce's story in this one, which was a surprise to me, since I usually don't care for him at all. (less)
While I still love the way McCall Smith writes, I love the characters in this series, and I love the setting, I didn't find this most recent installme...moreWhile I still love the way McCall Smith writes, I love the characters in this series, and I love the setting, I didn't find this most recent installment to be of the same caliber as the first 3 or 4.
Part of the problem is that while the main character is always pondering ethical issues (which makes sense, as she is the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, and considers herself to be a moral philosopher), things got almost a tad preachy in this book.
It seems to me that usually, it's just the character who expresses opinions on philosophy; this time, it seemed like the author was explicitly stating his own ethical beliefs, and actually went so far as to speak badly of a very well-respected philosopher (Thomas Hobbes). I am unused to that type of writing from McCall Smith; that's not what I'm looking for when I pick up one of his books.
I remain a fan of this author, but I think perhaps prolonging both this series and the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is doing a disservice to the characters and the story lines. It begins to feel forced after a while. I would very much like it if he created a new series, with fresh characters and a change of setting. For me, that would probably renew my passion for his writing.
That being said, I continue to appreciate the intelligence and grammatical precision of Alexander McCall Smith's prose. His descriptive style always seems to hit the mark, for me - never too flowery, but never lacking. In this book as in all the others, he makes great use of sensory description, leaving you feeling cozy and satisfied, as if you had just finished a comforting meal and are pleasantly situated by a warm fire. He adds a pinch of subtle, witty humor to the mix, and always comes out with an elegantly executed novel, a truly pleasant read.(less)
I somewhat feel that these books have gone on long enough, and that there is little left that can be said about these characters. Then again, I find m...moreI somewhat feel that these books have gone on long enough, and that there is little left that can be said about these characters. Then again, I find myself looking forward to each new book about Mma Ramotswe, because she is the type of character who can keep doing the same things and I will still want to read about her. Somehow Mr. McCall Smith has kept the characters from getting boring and kept the cases from getting routine... barely, but he has. There are still sub-plots that he has not used, and he does a good job of finding those to avoid repetition. I always appreciate the folk wisdom, deep-rooted morality, and wit of Mma Ramotswe and the books about her, as well as the simple pleasure she gets out of ordinary things in life. As long as Mr. McCall Smith keeps churning out No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, I will keep reading them; prude though I am not, there is something to be said about a book or a series for adults that does not revolve around or describe sex, and which is free of foul language. It's refreshing, and a welcome break in a stressful, often smutty world. (less)
i was so excited to get this from the library. i was the first one to read this copy after the library acquired it, and that always puts a little extr...morei was so excited to get this from the library. i was the first one to read this copy after the library acquired it, and that always puts a little extra bounce in my step.
i got rather nervous here and there about isabel and jamie's relationship, which i have always rooted for. i think it's right that since she spends so much time rooting around in other people's lives and mysteries, she should have a little bit of ambiguity in her own. i enjoyed the intrigue, and i was very glad the story went in the direction it did and that i ended this book, as usual with this series, with a smile.(less)
This was a really enjoyable book, and I feel like I learned quite a bit about the culture of some of the mountain people in that area. I've always bee...moreThis was a really enjoyable book, and I feel like I learned quite a bit about the culture of some of the mountain people in that area. I've always been interested in those little pockets of people whom time forgot. What a strong female character the narrator is! I enjoy a woman in a book who can confront her fears, push up her sleeves and do what needs doing.
The book was a little bit heavy on the Christianity, but I did appreciate a lot of what was said about it, particularly the discussions between Christy and Alice Henderson, the older mentor with the Quaker background. Quaker beliefs interest me as it is, so this was an interesting bit of insight. I didn't think the religious parts were so frequent as to be annoying for a reader who isn't very religious. There have definitely been other books that I felt warranted much more complaint in that department.
All in all, this was very involving and I was disappointed to be done with it. Even better was knowing that it was based not only on a true story, but on the experiences of the author's own mother. What a treat for her to write a book about her mother's adventures!(less)