It’s hard to believe The Full Cupboard of Life is the fifth installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s beloved series. The past novels flowed together so nicely, like one long story. Part five is still focused on Mma Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana. She’s still engaged to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speed Motors, with no wedding date in sight.
There’s less investigation in this installment and more drama. Mma Potokwane, owner of the orphan farm, coaxes Mr. Matekoni into a risky fundraising parachute jump. Mma Ramotswe is hired to investigate several suitors of a rich local woman. Smith uses these inquiries to illustrate traditional African customs and social etiquette. As usual, there’s plenty of amusing interaction between the characters.
The beauty of Smith’s series is in its simplicity. His tales unfold slowly, as though on African time. The heart of The Full Cupboard of Life and its predecessors is found in the characters that readers have come to love. Those unfamiliar with the series are highly encouraged to start from the beginning with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and read the books in order.
The Full Cupboard of Life is a top-notch installment with a nice surprise at the end. Resist the urge to peek and savor the tale with every page.