Q&A with Alexander McCall Smith discussion

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Africa

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol | 2 comments The first time I picked up the number 1 ladies detective agency I did so because my little rural library in central Iowa doesn't have a lot to spark my interest. I was instantly interested in Precious, her desires, her way of speaking, and her description of Africa. I have read them all and re-read them each summer as I sit in my backyard looking out over the corn fields. The minute I start reading I am taken to Africa. My question for you is the manner of speaking. If I were to go to Africa, as I sometime hope to do, would the conversations from the books be what I would hear when I visited? I find their manner of speaking calming after a day of teaching five year olds and reading broken text messages from my college daughter.


message 2: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (ppconnell) | 3 comments Great question! I, too, have fallen for Botswana and the people there and love the respectful way they speak and interact with each other.


message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 1 comments Hello Alexander McCall Smith,

I have read almost all of your No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I find all of the books very heartwarming. Something that I found interesting about the books was Mma Ramotswe love of red bush tea...do you also love red bush tea?

I've been looking all over for it and I found Tazo makes a version of the tea. I wonder if it is at all similar? It was an acquired taste for me and it made me laugh because I recalled Grace Makutsi's feelings about bush tea.

Thank you for your writing!

Warmest Regards, Lauren


message 4: by Paulette (new)

Paulette | 2 comments My daughter gave me the first book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I enjoyed it very much and as often happens when I read, I became interested in Africa. I realized that I knew hardly anything about Africa. Since then I have read several indepth books about the history of Africa. I have studied each country and can identify countries and capitals on a blank map. This truly started me on a journey of discovery.
Thank you for your entertaining writing.
Polly


message 5: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "The first time I picked up the number 1 ladies detective agency I did so because my little rural library in central Iowa doesn't have a lot to spark my interest. I was instantly interested in Prec..."

Dear Carol, Thank you for your kind remarks. Yes, I think you would encounter that way of speaking in Africa, and yes, it must be calming after dealing with five-year-olds! All best, AMcS


message 6: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Patricia wrote: "Great question! I, too, have fallen for Botswana and the people there and love the respectful way they speak and interact with each other."

Dear Patricia, Thanks very much for this kind message, I hope you get to Botswana some day! All best, AMcS


message 7: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "Hello Alexander McCall Smith,

I have read almost all of your No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I find all of the books very heartwarming. Something that I found interesting about the books ..."

Dear Lauren, I like Redbush tea a great deal. I gather that it is very good for you - I find it very refreshing. All best, AMcS


message 8: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Paulette wrote: "My daughter gave me the first book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I enjoyed it very much and as often happens when I read, I became interested in Africa. I realized that I knew hardl..."

Dear Polly, I'm very glad to hear that the books have sparked an interest in Africa. Thanks for your kind remarks. AMcS


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol | 2 comments I begain drinking rooibos or red bush tea when my friends husband, who is from Kenya, introduced it to me. He brought it back from the family tea farm in Africa, it is a pretty good tea and now many companies make it.


message 10: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendyanna) | 1 comments I love your books and I love Africa. I was looking forward to the end of your book when you write, 'Africa, Africa, Africa, Africa...'

Why did you choose not to do that in your latest installment?


message 11: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (jo-jo) | 1 comments When my book club first started 6 years ago we picked up the first installment of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. We loved it so much that we have decided to read at least one of these books every year. So next year we will be up to the Good Husband of Zebra Drive. One of my favorite things about these books is that the writing and lifestyles are so simple but the books always include a strong and important message. One of our gals really wanted us to skip ahead to Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, but we voted against that and opted to keep reading them in the order they were written. Since we know we plan on reading all of them we figure why skip around?

What are your thoughts about reading these novels out of order?


message 12: by svm (new)

svm | 1 comments Dear Sir,
I have just returned from my first visit to Botswana and I hope it will not be my last! Visiting the country really brought your books based there to life, even more than the series, though I am eager for more episodes to be made. I was very fortunate to be able to visit the film set, which is thankfully still standing. I also had the further pleasure of spending some time at Mokolodi and Mochudi.

I was reading The Double Comfort Safari Club during my stay in Gaborone and constantly found myself smiling at the local references scattered throughout the book such as the Portuguese restaurant (where we dined by candlelight one night due to a power cut), Five Roses tea (to which I became quite addicted! My apologies to Mma Ramotswe, but I'm afraid I am more likely to ask for a cup from the larger teapot full of the variety preferred by Mma Makutsi and others. Although, I did drink bush tea on the veranda at the President Hotel), and the Sanitas tea garden (how picturesque!).

Quite by accident, I also ended up at the site of Mma Ramotswe's home on the corner of Zebra Drive/Way for a party held by a Scot who lives there. Such a small world! Obviously, I had a fantastic time and very much enjoyed my pilgrimage to this corner of the world.

Now, my question for you relates to the pronunciation of certain letters in the Setswana language, particularly those pesky 'g's and 'h's. I learnt the difference pretty quickly, Kgale is Kaalee, Phuti is Putti, etc. but I wonder if you wouldn't consider putting a guide of some sort in future books as a helpful reminder. It seems that audio book readers have an unfair advantage over the traditionalists!

Thank you very much.
svm


message 13: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
wendyanna wrote: "I love your books and I love Africa. I was looking forward to the end of your book when you write, 'Africa, Africa, Africa, Africa...'

Why did you choose not to do that in your latest installment?"


I forgot! Sorry! AMcS


message 14: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
Joanne wrote: "When my book club first started 6 years ago we picked up the first installment of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. We loved it so much that we have decided to read at least one of these books ev..."

Dear Joanne, I don't mind - I think that it is probably better to read them in order, but I have no strong views on that. All best, AMcS


message 15: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Smith (Alexander_McCall_Smith) | 134 comments Mod
svm wrote: "Dear Sir,
I have just returned from my first visit to Botswana and I hope it will not be my last! Visiting the country really brought your books based there to life, even more than the series, thou..."

Dear svm, I was delighted to read about your visit to Gaborone. You certainly did everything that Mma Ramsotwe would do, and it sounds as if you Setswana pronunciation came on in leaps and bounds too. I'll pass on your suggestion as to a pronunciation guide to the publishers. Al;l best, AMcS


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