Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #10)

( 114 )

Overview

"Mma Ramotswe's ever-ready tiny white van has recently developed a rather disturbing noise. Of course, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni - her estimable husband and one of Botswana's most talented mechanics - is the man to turn to for help. But Precious suspects he might simply condemn the van and replace it with something more modern. Can she find a way to save her old friend?" "In the meantime, Mma Makutsi discovers that her old rival Violet Sephotho, who could not have gotten more than fifty percent on her typing final at the Botswana Secretarial College,
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Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #10)

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Overview

"Mma Ramotswe's ever-ready tiny white van has recently developed a rather disturbing noise. Of course, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni - her estimable husband and one of Botswana's most talented mechanics - is the man to turn to for help. But Precious suspects he might simply condemn the van and replace it with something more modern. Can she find a way to save her old friend?" "In the meantime, Mma Makutsi discovers that her old rival Violet Sephotho, who could not have gotten more than fifty percent on her typing final at the Botswana Secretarial College, has set her sights on none other than Mma Makutsi's fiance, Phuti Radiphuti. Can Mma Ramotswe's intuition save the day? Finally, the proprietor of a local football team has enlisted the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency to help explain its dreadful losing streak. The owner of the team is convinced he as a traitor in his midst. But how is Mma Ramotswe, who has never seen a football match in her life, going to discern who is throwing the game? Help, it turns out, may come from an unexpected quarter." There are few mysteries that can't be solved and fewer problems that can't be fixed when the irrepressible Precious Ramotswe puts her mind to them. A good cup of red bush tea might be the best solution of all.
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  • No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
    No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Most private eyes roaming crime fiction spend their days and nights chasing murderers and kidnappers. Precious Ramotswe, the "traditionally built" proprietor of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, devotes her time to matters quite different. In the tenth installment of her walkabouts, Mma Ramotswe tracks down her husband's stolen white van and solves the case of a talented local soccer team that just can't win. These alleged crimes test her formidable talents in ways far more fascinating than any bloody act of mayhem could. A warm cup of red bush tea, to be consumed slowly.
Publishers Weekly

Once again, Precious Ramotswe uses her insights into human nature to unravel problems big and small in Smith's charming 10th novel to feature Botswana's No. 1 lady detective (after The Miracle at Speedy Motors). Leungo Molofololo, the owner of the Kalahari Swoopers, a local soccer team with a lot of athletic talent, suspects a traitor on the squad is deliberately sabotaging games for an unknown reason. Despite her complete ignorance of the sport, Mma Ramotswe agrees to look into the matter. She and her prickly assistant, Grace Makutsi, attend a match and begin interviewing the players in an effort to solve what amounts to the book's main mystery. The soccer inquiry, though, is secondary to a major event in Mma Ramotswe's life-the impending demise of the little white van she's used for many years that's much more than a machine to her. Fans can look forward to the debut of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency on HBO on March 29. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Mma Precious Ramotswe wrestles with a timeless problem-to cling to the old or embrace the new-in her tenth adventure. Mr. Leungo Molofololo, the latest client of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, has a big problem. The soccer team he owns, the Kalahari Swoopers, has stopped winning. Someone on the team, he tells Mma Ramotswe, is throwing the matches, and he wants her to find out who. Despite her complete ignorance of the game and her client's failure to pay a retainer, Botswana's preeminent detective conscientiously begins interviewing Swoopers to find out who is the rotten link. As usual in this much-honored series (The Miracle at Speedy Motors, 2008, etc.), however, the real action lies elsewhere. Sharp-tongued assistant detective Grace Makutsi's engagement is imperiled when her fiance, Mr. Phuti Radiphuti, hires her old nemesis, mantrap Violet Sephotho, to sell beds at his furniture store. Struggling to keep her man, Mma Makutsi has to decide between buying food and indulging in a pair of faux-alligator shoes. Mma Ramotswe's beloved little white van seems to be "sick at heart." Should she report its condition to her husband, auto salesman Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, who'll surely want to replace it, or try to get one of his apprentices to fix it behind his back?Episodes in Smith's series, like those in a long-running sitcom, have stopped competing with each other as better or worse and instead have gelled into a self-contained world into which audiences enter with pleasure and gratitude. Here's more of the same.
From the Publisher
“Delightful . . . The warm humanity infused throughout [McCall Smith’s] novels . . . is what beings readers back . . . There is a simplicity and lyricism in [the] language that brings out the profound importance of . . . everyday revelations."
San Francisco Chronicle

“Witty, charming and a delight . . . Wonderfully entertaining.”
Tucson Citizen

“A literary confection of gossamer deliciousness . . . There is no end to the pleasure that may be extracted from these books.”
–Janet Malcolm, The New York Times Book Review

“Beautiful in spirit . . . Botswana and its way of life are described in exquisite detail . . . Delightful . . . Positively uplifting.”
Winston-Salem Journal

“Enthralling . . . [Mma Ramotswe] is someone readers can’t help but love.”
USA Today

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307277473
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/9/2010
  • Series: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series , #10
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 124,611
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith
Law professor Alexander McCall Smith had already written more than 50 books before inventing the heroine for his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series: Precious Ramotswe, the only female P.I. in Botswana. The books are as unconventional as their good-humored heroine, who relies on common sense -- and a few tidbits gleaned from Agatha Christie -- to solve her cases.

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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Reading Group Guide

1. Grace pokes fun at Fanwell’s name, and says that he and Charlie, apprentice mechanics in the garage, are lazy. What aspect of Grace’s character is revealed in this conversation [pp. 6–7]? How does Mma Ramotswe deal with temperamental differences between herself and her assistant?

2. As she said in The Miracle at Speedy Motors, “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.”  Why does the suspicion presented by Mr. Molofololo—that someone on his football team is throwing games—cause a real difficulty for Mma Ramotswe in solving the case?

3. How does visiting Fanwell’s home provoke Mma Ramotswe’s sympathy [pp. 63–72]?  Why does she conclude, “until you dig deeper, and listen … you know only a tiny part of the goodness of the human heart” [p. 72]?

4. Mma Tafa’s ambition for her husband, Big Man, to be captain of the football team makes Mma Ramotswe wonder whether Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni nursed any hidden, unfulfilled desires.  She thinks, “when we dismiss or deny the hopes of others … we forget that they, like us, have only one chance in this life” [p. 130].  If Mma Ramotswe’s compassionate insights were collected, would they comprise a dependable guide to an ethical life?

5. Mma Ramotswe has to laugh when she thinks of the tiny goalkeeper, Big Man Tafa, dancing with his wife [pp. 130–3].  What other moments cause laughter in the story? How would you describe Mma Ramotswe’s sense of humor?

6. Mma Makutsi’s purchase of new shoes gives her “that extraordinary feeling of renewal that an exciting purchase can bring,” but her old shoes silently make their resentment known [pp. 146–7].  If you have read Blue Shoes and Happiness, how does this moment recall an earlier episode where Grace buys a pair of new shoes?

7. What qualities make Precious Ramotswe such an unusual person?  How would you describe the quality of her insight or wisdom?  To her husband, she was the person “who stood for kindness and generosity and understanding; for a country of which he was so proud; who stood for Africa and all the love that Africa contained” [pp. 151-52].  Do you find her inspirational, and if so how can she been seen as a model for behavior in everyday life?

8. Why does Violet Sephotho make a direct play for Phuti Radiphuti?  Does it appear that she holds a grudge against Grace?  Does the conversation on pp. 45-47 suggest that Grace’s physical imperfections might present a serious cause for anxiety regarding Phuti’s commitment to her?

9. Why is Mma Ramotswe’s tiny white van so beloved?  What does it signify for her?  Having finally passed beyond the hope of repair, it was towed away by a man who bought it for spare parts [p. 172].  Do you see any hope for its revival in future episodes?

10. Mma Ramotswe often thinks of her father, Obed Ramotswe: “She would give anything—anything—to have her father back with her, just for a day, so that she could tell him about how her life had been and how she owed everything to him and to his goodness to her” [p. 183].  It is often said that gratitude is a spiritual emotion.  Why is gratitude such an important emotion in these books?

11. Mma Ramotswe says to Mma Makutsi, “Most of all I am grateful to you for being my friend … That is the best thing that anybody can be to anybody else—a friend” [p. 185].  What provokes these feelings of gratitude?  How is the “sense of dreadful imminence, [the] rawness” that Precious feels, resolved on page 186?  Discuss how, with scenes like this one, the series addresses small but important moments of life.

12. Puso provides the insight that Mma Ramotswe was missing in her investigation of the football team’s troubles.  What is the “sudden, blinding insight that Puso had triggered” [p. 207]?  Does it seem likely that Mr. Molofololo will learn what he needs to learn about himself and about his players [pp. 208–09]?

13. In most detective fiction, readers seek the identity of the criminal or the resolution of a mystery. Who are the criminals, and what is the mystery, in Tea Time for the Traditionally Built? How 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?

14. What are Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi celebrating with their lunch at the end of the novel? How does the fact that rain is coming add to the sense of a happy ending?

15. 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?

(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 114 )
Rating Distribution

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(77)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 114 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A TREAT FOR THE HEART!

    The proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Precious Ramotswe, is in mourning over her big-time old tiny white van. Her beloved van is making terrible noises and is probably headed for the junk yard. The idea of parting from the van that has been an important part of her life for so long is breaking Mma Ramotswe's heart.
    Precious and Grace are hired by Mr. Leungo Molofololo, the owner of a losing football team, to find out why his formerly successful Kalahari Swoopers are suddenly doing so badly.
    Ramotswe treats everyone with respect, kindness, and sensitivity, believing that "until you hear the whole story, until you dig deeper, and listen, you know only a tiny part of the goodness of the human heart." This is only one example of a book 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!

    Other treats for the heart....

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    Precious Ramotswe Delights Again

    There is nothing else like the day a new book in the Number 1 Ladies'Detective series comes out. The plot only matters peripherally to me. What matters is being able to spend time with the most loveable and delightful people I have met in decades. All of the main characters
    will live in your heart as well as in Botswana (which comes alive in Smith's wonderful words). These are books perfect for a time when the reader needs lightness, smiles, and to have one's faith in humanity gently restored. The whole series is not to be missed. It a special treat to splurge for the CDs and hear the story brought to life with all names and places correctly pronounced. This one had me smiling on a long drive from Detroit to Cape Cod.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    Sharing Tea with the Traditionally Built

    The No. 1 Ladies Detective series never disappoints. With Mma. Ramotswe, the challenges of life are calmly and creatively met. Among all of Alexander McCall Smith's series and books, his Botswana books are the most endearing due to its language, pace and sense of place in the simpleness of Botswana and her endearing people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    I enjoyed the book

    I have read, in order, all of the Ladies Detective Club books. Alexander McCall Smith is a cleaver writer and keeps the stores flowing and interesting. The books are good to read on a rainy day and in between something more serious. I am always wondering what will happen next to Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    Very engaging & thought provoking

    I have enjoyed this series & usually find gems in Mma Ramotswe's thoughts; this one was no exception. I find myself slowing down in my busy day to day life when I'm reading this series & look forward to each new book. I will say the "mysteries" the ladies solve aren't all that difficult, but they are not as central to the plot of the book as the lives of the characters. I throughly enjoyed this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    The wonder continues

    Alexander McCall Smith again brings Precious to life for us. A wonderful, quiet, and gentle read for all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved It!

    This is a great book to relax with - it will take you to another, more simple world with charming characters. It's been great fun to be along for the ride as the characters have developed throughout the series. Just when you think you know someone, a subtle twist in personality takes me by surprise. I have read all of McCall Smith's books - love this book and this series but love the Scotland based series even more!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2010

    the number one ladies detective meets another challenge.

    " Teatime for the Traditonally Built" is an enjoyable read. The uncommon good sense and humor is interspersed with the everyday lives and
    colors of Botswana. The mystery is worked out by good research and knowledge of human nature.
    An old rival of Mma Makutsi is countered in a suprizing way and a closer look at one of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's apprentices yields some unusual insights.
    The reader can relax with this interesting story and visit the beauty and local flavor of the Botswana countryside. You can sit and have your favorite cup of tea with Precious Ramotswe and enjoy meeting with old and new friends and challenges.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2010

    McCall Smith Delivers again

    Another delightful addition to The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not my favorite in this series

    What I love about all the books in this series is that they are simple, clean, contain no sex or violence, and absolutely make me feel as if I am IN the village in Africa. The language sounds how I would imagine it would sound, and the people act in the way that I expect they would. Even if that's not accurate, it seems real. They are wonderful characters. I just didn't find this ONE particular book to be as much fun as others in the series. Overall I would recommend them for light entertainment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Simple and sweet

    The topics are rather mundane, but the author's way of approaching them is quite touching. This was one of the first times I detected any actual affection between Precious and her husband. A little more romance would be welcome. The reader is really excellent!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Time For Tea

    I loved Tea Time for the Traditionally Bulit. The characters are great and I can't wait to see what will happen to them next. This book had good moral mysteries. This is a great rainy day book. I can't wait to read the next one in this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2009

    Smith does it again!

    I've read all the books in this series and love them all. This one may be my favorite however. The characters are more fully developed and there is a spark of humor that makes for delightful reading. The setting in an African culture is a welcome change of pace. Good reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2009

    What can I say!!

    Without a doubt the best series I have read to date. I just love the simplicity of Precious Ramotswe's love of life

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great addition!

    I have really enjoyed listening to the whole series on CD. This new one does not disappoint. Don't expect a fast-paced, exciting plot. This book is filled with quirky observations, friendship, loyalty, and appreciation of day-to-day living.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2009

    Tea Time For Many

    This book like the previous nine may well charm many into sharing tea time with its main characters, following them about as they untangle mysteries and confront all sorts of problems, personal and otherwise. Tea time is so cleverly woven into these books. It becomes a time to settle down with the characters as they catch their breath and rethink the mysteries that we're reading and wondering about. Tea time is sometimes a period of solitude for the main character as her solitary thoughts are shared with us, as she views her garden or watches the sun rise or set over her beloved Africa. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built was for me a time that I enjoyed very much just as I have enjoyed the tea times and African adventures of the previous 9 books in this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2009

    One of my favorites!

    I love the characters in this series. They are like friends. Life as it happens even if it is a slow process to find a solution. I am thrilled that it is now a series on HBO! Thanks, Alexander McCall Smith.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2009

    Just your cup of tea

    This is a perfect addition to Alexander McCall Smith's series about quite an unusual detective, Mma. Ramotswe. In rural African Botswana, she does not solve a typical who-done-it with one major crime and clues to gather for a final solution. Instead, she sips her red bush tea, while applying her peculiar Botswana wisdom and values to what her observant eyes and acute senses pick up as she goes about her daily errands. She solves mysteries which may seem insignificant, but have a profound effect on the lives--and futures--of friends and strangers alike. The characters are delightful--with humor, drama, romance, even tragedy in their lives. In this episode, Mma. Ramotswe struggles with the modern view of traditionally built women as she helps clear confusion and restore tranquility to the lives of clients who apply to the #1 Ladies Detective Agency for help.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Well worth the wait - Mma Precious Ramotswe pulls us back into her magical world

    Synopsis:
    The latest and tenth installment in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, we find the owner and proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Mma Precious Ramotswe is approached by the proprietor of a local football team to help him discover the reason behind the team's losing streak. Though unfamiliar with the rules and world of football, Mma. Ramotswe and her prickly assistant Mma Grace Makutsi enlist the help of Mma. Ramotswe's football loving and very observant adopted son, Puso. With their gentle prodding, interviewing and powers of deduction, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is tracks down the cause of the problem.
    All the while, Mma Ramotswe is heartsick with a problem of her own. While she is happily married to Mr. J.L.B. Maketoni, one of Botswana's most talented mechanics, she is dismayed to discover that her much-loved and battered white van is finally giving out. Mma Ramotswe is loyal and recalls all the adventures with her white van. She is not ready to retire the van. She calls upon the help of Fanwell, Mr. Maketoni's second assistant, to see if the white van can be brought back to life.
    Mma. Ramotswe's assistant, Grace Makutsi is herself distracted by trouble brewing with her fiance, the owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, wealthy and hardworking Mr. Phuti Radiphuti. Mr. Phuti has hired her nemesis from the Botswana Secretarial College, Violet Sephotho, as a new saleslady in his shop. Though Mr. Phuti is oblivious, Mma. Makutsi suspects that the beautiful and scheming Violet is plotting to steal him away. Mma. Makutsi searches for a way to remove the danger without alerting Mr. Phuti.
    Review:
    Tea Time for the Traditionally Built does not disappoint! As the latest in the series, we are happy to find Mma. Precious Ramotswe with her gentle and kind ways unchanged. She still pays respect to the traditional ways. She generously offers help and comfort to those who need it. As she gets to know Fanwell and his circumstances, you are glad to become better acquainted with the characters in her life. The constant sense of pride in Botswana and her love for her father are woven into the narrative but the book never dips to the maudlin, folksy or cute. This book is a very enjoyable way to pass a few hours!
    I highly recommend it for fans of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, people fond of detective cozies, and someone looking for a heartwarming glimpse into another culture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    Good reading

    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is wonderful. I really enjoy the description of the characters and of Africa. It paints a picture that you can escape in.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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