Initially, I decided to read Alexander McCall Smith’s series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, because I saw an episode of the HBO series and had enjoyed it.I now read the series because I like feeling like I am a part of the lives of the characters. I find myself wanting to know what is going on with them; mostly because they represent the dignified, quiet, simple lives of real people whom I admire. Smith seems interested in plumbing the lives of careful people, people who are not reckless. Mma Ramotswe is the most interesting in this sense because she is often given the task of discovering unsettling information about people. The question is often raised through her: what does it mean to repair a life? For Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe’s husband, the answer seems to be simple: fix cars. For his wife, the answer never is. So when the answer may itself lead to disrepair, Mma Ramotswe finds that it is the responsibility of the messenger to be careful.
The central characters in these works have quite admirable traits. I want to live among them. There is so much discussion of honor, truth, honesty, modesty, listening, and thoughtfulness. Initially struck by this woman of traditional build, Smith moved past fantasizing about her body to imagining a thoughtful woman throughout the novels. Mma Ramotswe thinks and Smith provides wonderful descriptions of what that looks like. Her interior life is filled with thoughts of her late father Obed Ramotswe; her husband, and through him, the inner workings of mens’ interiority; her assistant, Mma Makutsi; the orphans who now live with her. What enables her to have such a rich interior life is the quiet afforded her in her home on Zebra Drive that resulted from her father’s passing away and the inheritance she gained.
I really enjoy these books!