Monday, November 14, 2005

The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith

Ahh, after the disappointment of "The Kalahari Typing School for Men" I am delighted to say that Mr McCall Smith is back on form with this one. This book had plenty of character development, a good story and didn't go overboard on the "simple people living simple lives" theme that can be a bit much sometimes in this series.

This book features many significant events in the lives of the main characters, even Charlie, one of the lazy apprentices in Mr J. L. B. Matekoni's garage. Mma Makutski moves into a nicer house now that her typing school has taken off, Mma Ramotswe investigates a client's four suitors to help her decide which to marry, and Mr J. L. B. Matekoni is pressured into a very brave and risky stunt to raise money for his friend the matron of the "orphan farm" outside of Gaborone.

I'm often struck when reading this series that Alexander McCall Smith is very severe upon his own sex (to quote the immortal Mr Darcy). He has a wonderful grasp of the feminine psyche and most of this series is written from the point of view of women, who don't have much good to say about men. Here's an excerpt from one of Mma Ramotswe's discussions with Mma Potokwane, the strong-willed orphan farm matron; they are discussing the lengthy engagement of Mr Matekoni and Mma Ramotswe, who have yet to set a wedding date.

"'Mr J. L. B. Matekoni is not a man who makes hasty decisions. He likes to think about things for a long time.'

"Mma Potokwane shook her head. 'That is a weakness, Mma Ramotswe,' she said. 'I'm sorry to have to say this, but there are some men who need to be organised by women. Every woman knows this. It is only now, in these modern days, with men getting ideas about running their lives without any help from women -- those dangerous, bad ideas -- it is only now that we see how much these poor men need our assistance. It is a very sad thing.'

"'I don't know about that,' countered Mma Ramotswe. 'I know that ladies have to help men in many things. Sometimes it is necessary to push men a little bit. But one should not take it too far.'

"'Well it's not going too far to push men to the altar,' retorted Mma Potokwane. 'Women have always done that, and that is how marriages take place. If you left it up to men, they would never get there. Nobody would be married. You have to remind men to get married.'"

Would any of my male readers care to comment?

Other books I've read by this author:
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe
Morality for Beautiful Girls
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
Portuguese Irregular Verbs

No comments: