The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #9)

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Overview

In the ninth installment of this infinitely enjoyable and bestselling series, Precious Ramotswe is doing what she does best–solving crimes and taking care of business: her own and everybody else’s.

Investigating her latest case, Mma Ramotswe has to trek to a game preserve, where she rediscovers the breathtaking beauty of her beloved Botswana. She is there to uncover the truth about an elderly American traveller whose safari proved to be his ...

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The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #9)

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Overview

In the ninth installment of this infinitely enjoyable and bestselling series, Precious Ramotswe is doing what she does best–solving crimes and taking care of business: her own and everybody else’s.

Investigating her latest case, Mma Ramotswe has to trek to a game preserve, where she rediscovers the breathtaking beauty of her beloved Botswana. She is there to uncover the truth about an elderly American traveller whose safari proved to be his last journey. What she discovers is a surprise to everyone concerned.

Meanwhile, problems are also brewing back at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: Mma Makutsi has instituted the Complaint Half Hour in order to air her grievances–which works well for her until Mma Ramotswe decides to institute her own version. And life is no less complicated at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, where Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni–Mma Ramotswe’s estimable husband–has suddenly decided to mortgage the garage.

But without a doubt–and after several cups of bush tea–Precious Ramotswe will make sure, as only she can, that everything turns out as it should.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Not even several cups of bush tea can calm things down in this No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel. Mma Ramotswe's latest case brings her to a Botswana game preserve where an elderly American tourist has met his untimely demise. (Are any demises timely?) Meanwhile, back at home at the agency, Mma Makutsi has insisted on the creation of Complaint Half Hour to air grievances, especially her own. And the estimable J.L.B. Matekoni has just informed his detective wife that he plans to mortgage the garage. Can our mild-mannered, philosophical sleuth bring peace on all fronts? Settle down with a fragrant steeping beverage and find out.
Marilyn Stasio
Before this touching case is solved—with the twist of folk humor that makes the whole series irresistible—there will indeed be miracles.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Lisette Lecat is the ideal reader for Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. A native of South Africa (which borders Botswana and shares Setswana language roots), Lecat's perfect accents and delightful characterizations are charming and entirely believable. Smith's detective plots are always secondary to the common sense and often witty psychological and philosophical discussions and internal musings that constitute the better part of the book, but Lecat manages to keep listeners engaged and focused throughout, and to feel comfortable in the Botswanan landscape. Teaching law at Botswana University, Smith obviously developed great admiration and love for the nation and its people, and it is this that makes his detective ladies so popular. Lecat's reading will delight both veteran and new fans of the series. Simultaneous release with the Pantheon hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 25). (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This ninth "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" novel is one of the strongest entries in a consistently strong series. Like its predecessors, it is a gentle, warmhearted mix of loosely interwoven narrative threads that reaffirm Botswana detective Precious Ramotswe's philosophy of serving others. The book also offers enough intrigue, mystery, and uncertainty to keep listeners guessing-particularly about what the title's "miracle" will be. The answer is at once surprising and wholly believable. As always, South African reader Lisette Lecat brings a perfect accent and intonation to her narration, making Smith's books a treat to hear. With a new BBC miniseries adapted from the novels coming to HBO, American interest in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency should soon be greater than ever. Strongly recommended for general collections.
—Kent Rasmussen

Kirkus Reviews
Mma Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's foremost detective, witnesses a miracle, though not the one she was hoping for. In their deceptively quiet way, things are bustling at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Mma Manka Sebina, an adopted woman from the village of Ootse who does not know her blood relatives, begs Mma Ramotswe: "Please find me a birthday, and find me some people." Mma Grace Makutsi, the formidable assistant who clearly has her heart set on becoming the No. 1 Agency's Chief Detective, arranges with her fiance Phuti Radiphuti, owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, to have a connubial bed-and what a bed!-delivered to her house. Mma Ramotswe's husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, is excited to hear Dr. Mwata suggest that, against all earlier medical opinion, he may be able to help the couple's foster daughter Motholeli to walk again. Although Motholeli has always accepted with rare grace the spinal injury that has kept her in a wheelchair, she can't keep herself from hoping too. The only cloud on the horizon is a series of spiteful anonymous letters in which Mma Ramotswe is warned: "Fat lady, you watch out!"If there are fewer funny moments than in Mma Ramotswe's previous cases (Good Husband of Zebra Drive, 2007, etc.), there's a deepening gravity and sweetness you won't find anywhere else in the genre.
From the Publisher
“Utterly charming and compulsively readable.” –Newsweek

“Before this touching case is solved–with the twist of folk humor that makes the whole series irresistible – there will indeed be miracles.” –The New York Times

“Whether you’re making your first visit to McCall Smith’s fictional Botswana or your ninth, it’s an irresistible destination.” –The Scotsman

“Gentle and engaging, the Mma Ramotswe stories have captivated millions.” – The Western Morning News (UK)

“Fluent and gracious . . . charmingly conveys the practical wisdom of much of African life.” –The Daily Telegraph

The Miracle at Speedy Motors [has] a deepening gravity and sweetness you won’t find anywhere else in the genre.” –Kirkus Reviews

“The ninth installment of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, The Miracle at Speedy Motors, featuring ‘traditionally built’ Botswana sleuth Mma Precious Ramotswe is as quietly enjoyable as the first. . . . the pleasure of these sweet books lies in the clarity and gravity with which the characters reason through everyday dilemmas.” –Entertainment Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe and was a law professor at the University of Botswana. He lives in Scotland.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Alexander McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and went to school in Bulawayo, near the Botswana border. Although he moved to Scotland to attend college and eventually settled in Edinburgh, he always felt drawn to southern Africa and taught law for a while at the University of Botswana. He has written a book on the criminal law of Botswana, and among his successful children's books is a collection of African folk tales, Children of Wax.

Eventually, Smith had an urge to write a novel about a woman who would embody the qualities he admired in the people of Botswana, and the result, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, was a surprise hit, receiving two special Booker citations and a place on the Times Literary Supplement's International Books of the Year and the Millennium list. "The author's prose has the merits of simplicity, euphony and precision," Anthony Daniels wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. "His descriptions leave one as if standing in the Botswanan landscape. This is art that conceals art. I haven't read anything with such unalloyed pleasure for a long time."

Despite the book's success in the U.K., American publishers were slow to take an interest, and by the time The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was picked up by Pantheon Books, Smith had already written two sequels. The books went from underground hits to national phenomena in the United States, spawning fan clubs and inspiring celebratory reviews. Smith is also the author of a detective series featuring the insatiably curious philosopher Isabel Dalhousie and the 44 Scotland Street novels, which present a witty portrait of Edinburgh society

In an interview on the publisher's web site, Smith says he thinks the country of Botswana "particularly chimes with many of the values which Americans feel very strongly about -- respect for the rule of law and for individual freedom. I hope that readers will also see in these portrayals of Botswana some of the great traditional virtues in Africa -- in particular, courtesy and a striking natural dignity."

Good To Know

As a professor at Edinburgh Law School, Smith specializes in criminal law and medical law, and has written about the legal and ethical aspects of euthanasia, medical research, and medical practice.

When he isn't writing books or teaching, Smith finds time to play the bassoon in the candidly named amateur ensemble he co-founded, The Really Terrible Orchestra.

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Read an Excerpt

We Are All Care of One Another

The correct address of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s foremost solver of problems—in the sense that this was where she could be found between eight in the morning and five in the afternoon, except when she was not there — was The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, c/o Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Gaborone, Botswana. The “care of” was a matter of some disagreement between Mma Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi, her assistant and “right-hand lady,” as she put it. Mma Makutsi, with all the dignity of one who had received ninety-seven per cent in the final examinations of the Botswana Secretarial College, took the view that to say that the agency was care of Speedy Motors was to diminish its importance, even if it was true that the agency occupied a small office at the side of the garage. Those who really counted in this life, she maintained, were usually not care of anybody.

“We are the ones they come looking for,” she argued, with perhaps less than perfect logic. “When people come to this place, Mma, they look for us, not for the garage. The garage customers all know where the garage is. So our name should be first in the address, not the other way round, Mma. If anything, Speedy Motors should be care of us.”

She looked at Mma Ramotswe as she said this, and then quickly added: “That is not to say that Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and his garage are not important, Mma. That is not to say such a thing. It is just a question of . . .”

Mma Ramotswe waited for her assistant to complete the sentence, but nothing further came. That was the trouble with Mma Makutsi, she thought; she left things hanging in the air, often the most important things. What was it a question of? It must be a question of status, she decided; Mma Makutsi could be very prickly about that. There had been that business about her being described as “senior secretary” when she had only been in the job for a couple of months and when there was nobody junior to her in the firm; in fact, when there was nobody else at all in the firm. Then, once she had been promoted to assistant detective, it had not been long before she had asked when she could expect to be an “associate detective.” That promotion had come, as had her earlier advancement, at a time when Mma Ramotswe had been feeling guilty about something or other and had felt the need to smooth ruffled feathers. But now that she was an associate detective it was difficult to see what the next step could be. She had a suspicion that Mma Makutsi hankered after the title of “chief detective” — a suspicion which was founded on Mma Ramotswe’s having found in the waste-paper basket a crumpled piece of paper on which Mma Makutsi had been trying out new signatures. Not only were there several attempts at Mma Grace Radiphuti, Radiphuti being the surname of her fiancé, Phuti, but there was also a scrawled signature, Grace Makutsi, under which she had written Chief Detective.

Mma Ramotswe had re-crumpled the paper and tossed it back into the basket. She felt bad about having read it in the first place; one should not look uninvited at the papers of another, even if they have been discarded. And it was entirely understandable, normal even, that an engaged woman should practise the signature she will use after her marriage. Indeed, Mma Ramotswe suspected that most women secretly experimented with a new signature shortly after meeting a man they looked upon with favour — even if that man had not expressed any interest in them. A handsome and eligible man might expect to have his name tried out in this way by many women who fancied themselves on his arm, and there was no harm in this, she thought, unless one believed that women should not prepare quite so willingly for their hearts to be broken. Women, thought Mma Ramotswe, are sometimes like plump chickens in the yard, while outside, circling the fence, were the hyenas, the men. It was not a happy way of envisaging the relation between the sexes, but time and time again she had seen this particular drama played out in exactly that way. And hyenas, one had to admit, were surely destined to break the hearts of chickens; they could do nothing else.

Mma Ramotswe saw nothing undignified in being in the care of anybody. In fact, she thought it was rather reassuring to be in another’s care and, more than that, it was a very convenient way of describing how to find somebody, a way which we used in our everyday lives when talking about those we knew. There were people who were always to be found in the company of one particular friend, and to say, “Oh, you’ll always find him walking around with that other man, you know, the one who lives next to the store,” was surely the same as saying that one was care of the other. Yes, we were all care of one another in the final analysis, at least in Botswana, where people looked for and valued those invisible links that connected people, that made for belonging. We were all cousins, even if remote ones, of somebody; we were all friends of friends, joined together by bonds that you might never see, but that were there, sometimes every bit as strong as hoops of steel.

But, Mma Ramotswe thought that morning as she drank her first cup of red bush tea during her walk about her garden, perhaps this did not apply to everybody; perhaps there were some who were lonely in the middle of all this profusion of friends and relatives, who had lost their people. And that very morning, she would be seeing a woman who had written to her with exactly that problem, a woman who wanted to trace her relatives. Tracing people was bread and butter to somebody in Mma Ramotswe’s profession; at least once a month someone would come into the office and ask her to find somebody — an errant husband, a lover, a child who had drifted away from the family and stopped writing home. Sometimes it was lawyers who contacted her and asked her to find those who stood to inherit cattle, or land, and did not know of the good fortune that awaited them. That was the sort of case that Mma Ramotswe most enjoyed, and when she succeeded in finding such people, as she usually did, she relished the moment when she disclosed to them what was in store. Earlier that week she had found a young man who did not know that his uncle in the north had died and left him three trucks and a taxi. She had forgiven him the speed with which his expression of sorrow at the news of the uncle’s demise was replaced by one of incredulity and then joy when he heard of the vehicles awaiting him under a shade-netting awning somewhere up in Maun. Young men were human, after all, and this young man, she learned, had been saving to build a small house for himself and his bride-to-be. He needed to save no more.

“Three trucks, did you say, Mma? What make?”

Mma Ramotswe had no idea. Trucks were Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s concern, not hers. She was not even sure she could identify the manufacturer of her tiny white van; there had been a name painted on the back at one stage, but over the years it had been obliterated by the wind and clouds of dust and the scratching of thorn bushes. Now there was nothing, just ridges in the metal where there had been letters. Not that it mattered, of course: the tiny white van was too old to remember its maker, too ancient to be taken back.

Missing names, missing persons — how remarkable it was, she thought, that we managed to anchor ourselves at all in this world, and that we did so by giving ourselves names and linking those names with places and other people. But there were people, she imagined, whose names said nothing about them and who had only the haziest idea of who they were, people who might never even have known their parents. Mma Ramotswe could not remember her mother, who died when she was a baby, but at least she had known her father, the late Obed Ramotswe, whose memory seemed undimmed by the passage of the years. She thought of him every day, every day, and believed that in due course — but not too soon, she hoped — she would see him again in that place that was Botswana but not Botswana, that place of gentle rain and contented cattle. And perhaps on that day those people who had nobody here would find that there were indeed people for them. Perhaps.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Introduction

“Irresistible—there will indeed be miracles.”
The New York Times Book Review

The introduction, questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group's conversation about Alexander McCall Smith's The Miracle at Speedy Motors, the ninth installment in the acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

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Foreword

1. After Mma Makutsi protests about the agency's address being “in care of” Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mma Ramotswe thinks about the meanings of the phrase. “Yes, we were all care of one another in the final analysis, at least in Botswana, where people looked for and valued those invisible links that connected people, that made for belonging” [p. 5]. Would you consider this idea central to the book? To which characters or events in the story does this phrase “in care of” seem most pertinent?

2. Mma Sebina comes to the agency in the hope that Mma Ramotswe will find her relatives: “Please find me a birthday, and find me some people” [p. 24]. So the novel begins like a Victorian orphan story—something like Jane Eyre—with a character seeking an identity. How else do the themes of family and identity arise in the novel?

3. Puso jumps out of the car when Mma Ramotswe mentions his Bushman background, of which he is ashamed [pp. 33–34]. She tells him, “You mustn't be cross with your mummy” [p. 35], and realizes she has called herself his mother for the first time. What progress does this family of two foster children and two nonbiological parents make throughout the course of the novel in strengthening their bonds of love and trust?

4. In Chapter Four, Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni discuss Mma Makutsi's impending marriage and the question of whether men should have to pay the bogadi for their wives [pp. 45-50]. What is unsettling for Mma Ramotswe about this conversation? What details help to create the quiet comedy of the situation?

5. In her visit to Mma Sebina'svillage, Mma Ramotswe tells the woman under the tree, “I am a lady first and then I am a detective. So I just do the things which we ladies know how to do—I talk to people and find out what has happened. Then I try to solve the problems in people's lives. That is all I do” [p. 71]. Is it true that Mma Ramotswe is “a lady first”? How relevant or necessary is the fact of her being a woman to her success in solving problems for people?

6. As in all of the books of this series, the land plays a silent but important role in the lives of the characters. Mma Ramotswe, watching rainclouds gather, thinks “we Batswana are . . . dry people, people who can live with dust and dryness but whose hearts dream of rain and water” [p. 76]. Why are conditions of the land and the weather so central for Mma Ramotswe? Is it ironic that the rainclouds, “stacked in towering layers; so sudden, so welcome” [p. 74], cause the disaster that befalls Mma Makutsi's new bed?

7. Mr. Polopetsi becomes a suspect in the case of the threatening letters. Does it seem that Mma Ramotswe has become less generous in her attitude toward him [pp. 89–90]? What character traits bring him under suspicion? When the writer of the threatening letters is revealed, Mma Ramotswe's assumption that the writer was a man [pp. 14–15] is proven wrong. Is it unusual that Mma Ramotswe was wrong in her thinking on this matter?

8. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni meets a doctor who promises him that Motholeli's paralysis can be reversed [p. 96]. What difficulties does this unexpected development cause for Mma Ramotswe? Why does she come up with the money, given her lack of faith in the treatment? How does she behave when Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and Motholeli return home [p. 211]? What is exceptional about her handling of the whole predicament?

9. Why is Mma Makutsi reluctant to tell her fiancé the truth about what happened to the new bed? What does it suggest about their relationship that she doesn't feel she can tell him? Why is his eventual response surprising to her [p. 187]?

10. In most detective fiction, readers seek the identity of the criminal or the resolution of a mystery. Who are the criminals, and where is the mystery, in The Miracle at Speedy Motors? In what ways does Mma Ramotswe differ from most fictional detectives? How do plot and pace differ, and what unique features distinguish The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series from conventional mystery novels?

11. Reflecting upon Motholeli and the suffering of Africa in general, Mma Ramotswe considers that “fundamental unfairness seemed to be a condition of human life. . . . What could one say to the poor, who had only one life, one brief spell of time, and were spending their short moment of life in hardship? And what could she say to Motholeli?” [pp. 145–46]. Does she have words of comfort for Motholeli?

12. What qualities make Precious Ramotswe such an unusual person? How would you describe the quality of her insight or wisdom? Do you find her inspirational, and if so why?

13. In the delicate matter of the health of Mma Ramotswe's van, Mma Potokwane is uncertain of how truthful she can be. Do you agree with her list of the matters that, even between close friends, cannot be criticized [p. 148]?

14. Why is Mma Makutsi shocked at the letter Mma Ramotswe dictates for Violet Sephotho [pp. 202–03]? What do you think of Mma Ramotswe's resolution that “we must answer her hatred with love” [p. 204]?

15. What is puzzling about Mr. Sekape and his attitude toward his newly discovered sister? Why is he so excited if, as he says, he dislikes women [p. 184]? Once it turns out they are unrelated, does it seem likely that Mma Sebina will succeed in marrying him [pp. 207–08]?

16. What miracles does Mma Ramotswe observe, in place of the large miracle her husband has hoped for? What is the significance of the title [p. 213]?

17. A typographic design, repeating the word Africa, follows the novel's final sentence. How does this affect your reading of the ending, and what emotions does it express?

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Reading Group Guide

1. After Mma Makutsi protests about the agency's address being “in care of” Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mma Ramotswe thinks about the meanings of the phrase. “Yes, we were all care of one another in the final analysis, at least in Botswana, where people looked for and valued those invisible links that connected people, that made for belonging” [p. 5]. Would you consider this idea central to the book? To which characters or events in the story does this phrase “in care of” seem most pertinent?

2. Mma Sebina comes to the agency in the hope that Mma Ramotswe will find her relatives: “Please find me a birthday, and find me some people” [p. 24]. So the novel begins like a Victorian orphan story — something like Jane Eyre — with a character seeking an identity. How else do the themes of family and identity arise in the novel?

3. Puso jumps out of the car when Mma Ramotswe mentions his Bushman background, of which he is ashamed [pp. 33–34]. She tells him, “You mustn't be cross with your mummy” [p. 35], and realizes she has called herself his mother for the first time. What progress does this family of two foster children and two nonbiological parents make throughout the course of the novel in strengthening their bonds of love and trust?

4. In Chapter Four, Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni discuss Mma Makutsi's impending marriage and the question of whether men should have to pay the bogadi for their wives [pp. 45-50]. What is unsettling for Mma Ramotswe about this conversation? What details help to create the quiet comedy of the situation?

5. In her visit to Mma Sebina's village, Mma Ramotswe tells the woman under the tree, “I am a lady first and then I am a detective. So I just do the things which we ladies know how to do — I talk to people and find out what has happened. Then I try to solve the problems in people's lives. That is all I do” [p. 71]. Is it true that Mma Ramotswe is “a lady first”? How relevant or necessary is the fact of her being a woman to her success in solving problems for people?

6. As in all of the books of this series, the land plays a silent but important role in the lives of the characters. Mma Ramotswe, watching rainclouds gather, thinks “we Batswana are . . . dry people, people who can live with dust and dryness but whose hearts dream of rain and water” [p. 76]. Why are conditions of the land and the weather so central for Mma Ramotswe? Is it ironic that the rainclouds, “stacked in towering layers; so sudden, so welcome” [p. 74], cause the disaster that befalls Mma Makutsi's new bed?

7. Mr. Polopetsi becomes a suspect in the case of the threatening letters. Does it seem that Mma Ramotswe has become less generous in her attitude toward him [pp. 89–90]? What character traits bring him under suspicion? When the writer of the threatening letters is revealed, Mma Ramotswe's assumption that the writer was a man [pp. 14–15] is proven wrong. Is it unusual that Mma Ramotswe was wrong in her thinking on this matter?

8. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni meets a doctor who promises him that Motholeli's paralysis can be reversed [p. 96]. What difficulties does this unexpected development cause for Mma Ramotswe? Why does she come up with the money, given her lack of faith in the treatment? How does she behave when Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and Motholeli return home [p. 211]? What is exceptional about her handling of the whole predicament?

9. Why is Mma Makutsi reluctant to tell her fiancé the truth about what happened to the new bed? What does it suggest about their relationship that she doesn't feel she can tell him? Why is his eventual response surprising to her [p. 187]?

10. In most detective fiction, readers seek the identity of the criminal or the resolution of a mystery. Who are the criminals, and where is the mystery, in The Miracle at Speedy Motors? In what ways does Mma Ramotswe differ from most fictional detectives? How do plot and pace differ, and what unique features distinguish The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series from conventional mystery novels?

11. Reflecting upon Motholeli and the suffering of Africa in general, Mma Ramotswe considers that “fundamental unfairness seemed to be a condition of human life. . . . What could one say to the poor, who had only one life, one brief spell of time, and were spending their short moment of life in hardship? And what could she say to Motholeli?” [pp. 145–46]. Does she have words of comfort for Motholeli?

12. What qualities make Precious Ramotswe such an unusual person? How would you describe the quality of her insight or wisdom? Do you find her inspirational, and if so why?

13. In the delicate matter of the health of Mma Ramotswe's van, Mma Potokwane is uncertain of how truthful she can be. Do you agree with her list of the matters that, even between close friends, cannot be criticized [p. 148]?

14. Why is Mma Makutsi shocked at the letter Mma Ramotswe dictates for Violet Sephotho [pp. 202–03]? What do you think of Mma Ramotswe's resolution that “we must answer her hatred with love” [p. 204]?

15. What is puzzling about Mr. Sekape and his attitude toward his newly discovered sister? Why is he so excited if, as he says, he dislikes women [p. 184]? Once it turns out they are unrelated, does it seem likely that Mma Sebina will succeed in marrying him [pp. 207–08]?

16. What miracles does Mma Ramotswe observe, in place of the large miracle her husband has hoped for? What is the significance of the title [p. 213]?

17. A typographic design, repeating the word Africa, follows the novel's final sentence. How does this affect your reading of the ending, and what emotions does it express?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 72 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(36)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 72 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What do you do when you're feeling low?

    What do you do when you're feeling low? Read one of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books! Learn a little about Botswana. Enjoy the company of a woman of traditional build who treats others with respect and gentility. No foul language. No sex. No graphic description of gruesome crime scenes. Just pleasant reading that always helps me feel better about the world.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A TREAT FOR THE HEART!

    I have become a huge fan of McCall Smith's work. This is an amusing, touching, and gentle look at ordinary people who search out a meaningful connection with others and a purpose to their existence.
    Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are back, solving new problems for their clients, but the investigations don't go quite as well as planned. There are small glitches along the way that add philosophical light to what the right thing to do could possibly be.
    The simple and charming events that happen in this book make it a true pleasure to read. Smith's gentle, realistic mystery books are a relaxant to the busy, worrisome world we live in and are full of values that encourage "good" in people. This is one of the best "pick-me-up" books, or any of Smith's books, that you can read. GENTLE. HEARTFELT. HUMOROUS. COZY. WARM. A TREAT FOR THE HEART!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    Meaningful Miracles

    This book like the previous 8 books in this series places Mr. Smith's characters in situations in which miracles are the experiences in life that can often be taken for granted. These miracles are not preached to the reader but enjoyed with the main character as she copes, appreciates and values her life in an African village and country which are her roots. Whether enjoying the peacefulness of an early morning cup of tea, the bonding of a friendship, her love of family or confronting worrisome problems, mysterious cases to be solved, she shows an awareness of these quiet often unspoken miracles. She is a true heroine with a sensitivity to her world which reflects our world. There's much to relate to in these very charming books which above all are very very entertaining.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    You really should not miss this book or any of the others in the series.

    This book was another of the series that I find to be relaxing and enjoyable. Great series to read when you are wanting to read just for the joy of reading. This book (The Miracle at Speedy Motors) is imaginative and full of humor. I am so glad the author continues to be able to find these quality stories to write about very simple people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    A lovely read.

    This author does a wonderful job of pulling a multilayered plot and several characters together without giving in to a syrupy ending or making it all fairy tale. McCall Smith just has that wonderful touch to a story that nudges you gently along. He takes you in one direction and "poof", a surprise here, a wake-up call there. But nothing is overboard or in your face. He has a way of making me love Mma Ramotswe more and more and embrace her staff and family. I treasure every read and savour my time with them.

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    I was so enthralled after reading the first three books in the series that I had to purchase all of them. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire series. The series would make good discussion books for a book club.

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  • Posted October 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A series that continues to provide wisdom and insight

    Reading book 9 of Alexander McCall Smith's Number one Ladies' Detective Agency is every bit as enjoyable as you'd expect after reading 1 to 8. I know I'm behind. I know real addicts are already on book 11, but I'm catching up. Botswana continues to enthrall the reader with its beauty, the gentle pace of its culture, the quiet way it reflects a different version of ourselves in might-have-beens. Precious Ramotswe continues to seek and learn, from quiet mountain-side splendor that calms, to flustered concerns of secrets only half-uncovered. Mma Makutsi continues to grow into her role, slowly learning that secrets are better when set free and shared. And the promised miracle that threads throughout the tale? Well, you'll have to read to find out, but the author assuredly doesn't cheat to pull it out of the bag. Even the obdurate apprentices are growing older in this series, where everything changes with time but stays just as sane, just as wise and real and interesting as it was in the beginning.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Alexander McCall Smith for President

    In his classic witty, thoughtful, caring, creative, heartwarming style, A. M. Smith has created another delightful read. It's just too easy to become one with Mma. Ramotzwe as she tactfully ponders how best to handle the mysteries that come her way from clients as well as her husband, their adopted children and their employees. Ranging from hilarious to serious, clear-thinking to confused, the people she meets in her daily life are all given careful consideration and handled with genteel thoughtfulness. It was good to see more of the children's characters developed in this book and great to know there's a wedding in the future. Wonder if the bride will wear blue shoes? Ha! Happy endings abound in this series and no one should want it any other way.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    The Miracle at Speedy Motors

    I have read the entire series: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and found the books to be an easy read and could picture the characters nicely in my mind.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fan of #1 Ladies Detective Agency

    I've loved every book I've read in this series-looking forward to diving into book #10.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2009

    Another Great Book in the series

    Alexander McCall Smith has written another book that captures the reader. Although the story takes place in Botswana, it could be a story that takes place any where. The characters, the situations, the descriptions captivate the reader. I hope the Great Mma Lady Detective appears again and again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2009

    Fun as always

    This is not great literature, but so heart warming and pleasant!

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Another McCall Smith Hit

    Once again the author scores a hit with the continuing story of the goings on at the Speedy Motors location. Mma Ramotswe has another puzzle to solve and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni gets involved with helping their daughter become cured of her medical problems.

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    great

    I love all his books!

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    As good as I expected it to be!

    I love the entire series and this held up to the standards of the previous books in the No. 1 Ladies Dectective series. An easy read, not complicated. Precious makes life seem easy to figure out. And she makes it seem very easy to do the right thing. I always anticipate the next book in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    Always Good Reads.

    I always look forward to the release of the next book in this series and the continued "unfolding" of these characters. Precious' appreciation for the simple honesty of life and her wisdom give pause for thought.

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  • Posted May 11, 2009

    a bit missleading

    Another sincere accounting of what life was like in Gabarone and how is is constantly changing but slower than the rest of the world. It's about people and the simple life but not overlooking some sordid characters who insist on making others take note.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    Like putting on a pair of cozy slippers.

    The entire series is wonderful, and this is a great addition. I did nottry this searies for years and when I picked it up and began reading, I could have kicked myself.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    An original plot which does not rely on blood, murder, intrigue, or suspense to hold the reader's attention.

    The series is written about a central character, Precious Ramotswe, who comes from simple, honorable beginnings and chooses an unusual profession for a lady, especially one who is a native of Botswana.

    From a basic "How To" book, she feels she can be a detective and by combining book knowledge with her own common sense and honorable ideas of what makes a good society, she succeeds in resolving the cases which come to her. It's a very simple, yet very enjoyable plot. It's one I will probably read again for the sheer joy of finishing a book without the usual themes intended to grab my attention and my spare cash. This is an unusual series and the author appears to have a serious place in his heart for the Botswana people.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    Mystery book like no other

    To be honest, I don't like mysteries, and I loved this book. Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors is the locale for this odd tale of intrigue and miracles. There's good doses of humor, especially needed because Mma Ramotswe's husband has come under the spell of a sleazy doctor who has promised to cure his daughter's medical problems. This is one of those books that not will you enjoy, but it will make you look at your life and take stock. As with the other detective series, Mma Ramotswe is busy doing what she does--solve crimes. There's plenty here to love, regardless of the cultural differences you might expect, and if you're not familiar with Alexand McCall Smith, this is a good place to start

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