Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith, 8 of 52

This is the 3rd book of McCall Smith’s that I have read completely. I say ‘completely’ as I have tried to read the Scotland Street series and just could not get into it due to the characters. The first book of McCall’s that I read was The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and I adored the cheery characters of Mma Precious Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi, very entertaining with their strong complimentary characters – not the least of which is due to Precious capacity to be gracious, at just about every opportunity, towards others and their strongly held opinions (Makutsi). It is a case for not sweating the small stuff, a favourite phrase of mine of late…thanks to some other more dominating aspects in my life that has put this in perspective.

I received this book as a lovely gift for my birthday from dear friend Sue, and it was perfect timing to be reading it after finishing The Name of the Rose. I instantly loved the cover we have in Australia, it had a picture of 2 possums on the front and you could have been confused for thinking it was set in Australia from this. However, it is set in Botswana a country which I know next to nothing about, where not much seems to happen from day to day in these stories. Smith obviously has a great affinity with the country having grown up and lived there for much of his early life.

Last year I had the pleasure of attending a book tour talk by the author Alexander McCall Smith with my book club and we were all very excited. We arrived at the Capri Cinema in Goodwood http://www.capri.org.au/, one of only a few beautiful Art Deco diamonds that remain in Adelaide. We found a wonderful spot to sit, with a good view and as we got comfortable we looked around the room with great interest. Our book group has a median age of approximately 44 years old, and we estimated that we probably sat 20-30 years younger than the average age of this Authors demographic. It was quite a strange feeling as we realised that we are possibly also getting older….. We had a great night, and Smith was very entertaining, particularly with his observations about his own books, characters and how nothing much really ever happens in them. You could see the audience were devoted to the author and his works with great knowledge on all sorts of characters and wanting to know what will happen to them.

I can certainly understand this enthusiasm after reading the first and the last book and having also read The Sunday Philosophy Club with the beautiful Isabel. You see, I already care about the characters and I think this is particularly where Smith is successful. You do find yourself caring that Precious and her assistant Makusti are treated respectfully by those they both interrogate and love. Smith allows you glimpses of their humanity which I feel endears them to you. Apart from that I agree, not much really happens in the books. This book was about Mma Ramotswe’s investigation into a soccer team who were doing badly – the resolution to the problem was naively simple and nothing was born out of sinister dealings. A very harmless and good natured mystery; sweet, you may say.

I am now reading my next book. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which has such a reputation to live up to as an excellent mystery thriller. Hopefully, I can get it finished soon as the net is starting to close in around me. Lectures, presentations, papers and interviews are calling for my attention; this is where my reading will be my conduit to relaxation and time out.

Readability 8 out of 10

Cant put down rating 7 out of 10

Recommend to others 7 out of 10

Do I want to read another book by this author – yes I will most likely re-visit the Sunday Philosophy Club series.


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