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

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

4.5 116
by Alexander McCall Smith

View All Available Formats & Editions

"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?"…  See more details below


"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.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series, #10
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Mr. Molofololo

Traditionally built people may not look as if they are great walkers, but there was a time when Precious Ramotswe walked four miles a day. As a girl in Mochudi, all those years ago, a pupil at the school that looked down over the sprawling village below, she went to her lessons every morning on foot, joining the trickle of children that made its way up the hill, the girls in blue tunics, the boys in khaki shirts and shorts, like little soldiers. The journey from the house where she lived with her father and the older cousin who looked after her took all of an hour, except, of course, when she was lucky and managed to ride on the mule-drawn water cart that occasionally passed that way. The driver of this cart, with whom her father had worked in the gold mines as a young man, knew who she was and always slowed down to allow her to clamber up on the driver’s seat beside him.

Other children would watch enviously and try to wave down the water cart. “I cannot carry all Botswana,” said the driver. “If I gave all you children a ride on my cart, then my poor mules would die. Their hearts would burst. I cannot allow that.”

“But you have Precious up there!” called out the boys. “Why is she so special?”

The driver looked at Precious and winked. “Tell them why you are special, Precious. Explain it to them.”

The young Mma Ramotswe, barely eight, was overwhelmed by embarrassment.

“But I am not special. I am just a girl.”

“You are the daughter of Obed Ramotswe,” said the driver. “He is a great man. That is why you are riding up here.”

He was right, of course—at least in what he said about Obed Ramotswe, who was, by any standards, a fine man. At that age, Precious had only a faint inkling of what her father stood for; later on, as a young woman, she would come to understand what it was to be the daughter of Obed Ramotswe. But in those days, on the way to school, whether riding in state on the water cart or walking along the side of that dusty road with her friends, she had school to think about, with its lessons on so many subjects—the history of Botswana, from the beginning, when it was known as Khama’s country, across the plains of which great lions walked, to the emergence of the new Botswana, then still a chrysalis in a dangerous world; writing lessons, with the letters of the alphabet being described in white chalk on an ancient blackboard, all whirls and loops; arithmetic, with its puzzling multiplication tables that needed to be learned by heart—when there was so much else that the heart had to learn.

The water cart, of course, did not pass very often, and so on most days there was a long trudge to school and a long walk back. Some children had an even greater journey; in one class there was a boy who walked seven miles there and seven miles back, even in the hottest of months, when the sun came down upon Botswana like a pounding fist, when the cattle huddled together under the umbrella shade of the acacia trees, not daring to wander off in search of what scraps of grass remained. This boy thought nothing of his daily journey; this is what you did if you wanted to go to school to learn the things that your parents had never had the chance to learn. And you did not complain, even if during the rainy season you might narrowly escape being struck by lightning or being washed away by the torrents that rose in the previously dry watercourses. You did not complain in that Botswana.

Now, of course, it was different, and it was the contemplation of these differences that made Mma Ramotswe think about walking again.

“We are becoming lazy, Mma Ramotswe,” said Mma Makutsi one afternoon, as they sipped their afternoon cup of red bush tea in the offices of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. “Have you noticed? We are becoming lazy.”

Mma Ramotswe frowned. There were times when Mma Makutsi made statements that suffered from that classic flaw of all generalisations—they were just too general. This observation, it seemed to her, could be such a remark.

“Do you mean that you and I are becoming lazy?” she asked her assistant. “If you do, then I do not think that’s right, Mma Makutsi. Take this morning, for instance. We finished that report on security at the loan office. And we wrote a lot of letters. Six, seven, I think. That is not being lazy.”

Mma Makutsi raised a hand in protest. “No, Mma, I did not mean that. I did not mean to say that you and I are becoming lazy. Or not specially lazy. I am talking about everybody.”

Mma Ramotswe raised an eyebrow. “The whole of Botswana?”

Mma Makutsi nodded. “Yes, the whole country. And it’s not just Botswana, Mma. We are no worse than anybody else. In fact, I am sure that there are many much lazier countries elsewhere. What I really meant was that people in general are becoming lazy.”

Mma Ramotswe, who had been prepared to defend Botswana against Mma Makutsi’s accusations, relaxed. If the remark was about people in general, and not just about the residents of Gaborone, then Mma Makutsi’s theory could at least be heard out. “Why do you say that people are becoming lazy, Mma?” she asked.

Mma Makutsi glanced through the half-open door that led from the agency into the garage. On the other side of the workshop, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni was showing his two apprentices an engine part. “You see those two boys out there?” she said. “Charlie and . . .”

“Fanwell,” supplied Mma Ramotswe. “We must start using his name. It is not kind to be forgetting it all the time.”

“Yes, Charlie and . . . Fanwell,” said Mma Makutsi. “It is a stupid name, though, don’t you think, Mma? Why would anybody be called Fanwell?”

Mma Ramotswe could not let this pass. Mma Makutsi was too hard on the two apprentices, particularly on the older one, Charlie. Words had passed between them more than once, including on the occasion when Charlie had called Mma Makutsi a warthog and made disparaging references to her large glasses. It had been quite wrong of him, and Mma Ramotswe had made that plain, but she had also acknowledged that he had been provoked. “They are young men,” she had said to Mma Makutsi. “That is what young men are like, Mma. Their heads are full of loud music and thoughts of girls. Imagine walking around with all that nonsense in your head.”

That had been said in defence of Charlie; now it was necessary to say something for Fanwell. It was wrong of Mma Makutsi, she thought, to poke fun at Fanwell’s name. “Why is anybody called anything, Mma Makutsi? That boy cannot help it. It is the parents who give children stupid names. It is the fault of the parents.”

“But Fanwell, Mma Ramotswe? What a silly name. Why did they not call him Fanbelt? That would be a good name for an apprentice mechanic, wouldn’t it? Hah! Fanbelt. That would be very funny.”

“No, Mma Makutsi,” said Mma Ramotswe. “We must not make fun of people’s names. There are some who think that your own name, Grace, is a strange name. I do not think that, of course. But there are probably people like that.”

Mma Makutsi was dismissive. “Then they are very foolish,” she said. “They should know better.”

“And that is what Fanwell himself would probably say about anybody who laughed at his name,” Mma Ramotswe pointed out.

Mma Makutsi had to agree with this, even if reluctantly. She and Mma Ramotswe were fortunate, with their reasonably straightforward names of Grace and Precious, respectively; she had contemporaries who were not so fortunate and had been saddled by their parents with names that were frankly ridiculous. One boy she had known at school had borne a Setswana name which meant Look out, the police have arrived. The poor boy had been the object of derision amongst his classmates and had tried, unsuccessfully, to change the name by which he was known. But names, like false allegations, stick, and he had gone through life with this unfortunate burden, reminded of it every time he had to give details for an official form; looking away so that the person examining the form could be given the opportunity to smile, which they all did.

“Even if their names are not their fault,” said Mma Makutsi, “the way those boys behave is their fault, Mma. There can be no doubt about that. And those boys are very lazy, Mma. They are examples of what I am talking about.”

She looked sternly at Mma Ramotswe, as if challenging her employer to contradict her. Mma Ramotswe did not rise to the bait; Mma Makutsi was rather assertive—and she admired the younger woman for that—but it did not help, she had decided, to engage with her too much when she was in mid-theory. It was best to let people have their say, she always felt; then, when they had finished, and had possibly run out of breath, one could always lodge a mild objection to what had been said before.

Mma Makutsi peered in the direction of the garage and lowered her voice. “Have you ever seen those two young men walk- ing?” she asked.

Mma Ramotswe frowned. Of course she had seen the apprentices walking; they walked about the garage, they came into the office to collect their tea, they walked to the tree under which Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s truck was parked. She pointed this out to Mma Makutsi, gently enough, but not so mildly as to prevent a firm refutation from the other side of the room.

“Not that sort of walking, Mma,” said Mma Makutsi. “Anybody can walk across a room or round a garage. Anybody, Mma. Even those two lazy young men. The sort of walking I’m talking about is walking from one place to another. Walking to work. Walking from the middle of town to the National Stadium. Walking from Kgale Siding to Gaborone. That sort of walking.”

“Those are not short walks,” said Mma Ramotswe. “Although it would not take too long, I think, to get from the middle of town to the Stadium. Perhaps twenty-five minutes if it was not too hot.”

Mma Makutsi sniffed. “How can we tell?” she asked. “These days nobody would know how long it takes to walk anywhere because we have all stopped walking, Mma. We know how long it takes to drive. We know how long a minibus takes. But we do not know how long it takes to walk.”

Mma Ramotswe was silent as she thought about this. She had long understood that one of the features of Mma Makutsi’s speeches was that there was often a grain of truth in them, and sometimes even more than that.

“And here’s another thing, Mma Ramotswe,” Mma Makutsi continued. “Have you heard of evolution? Well, what will happen if we all carry on being lazy like this and drive everywhere? I can tell you, Mma. We shall start to grow wheels. That is what evolution is all about.”

Read More


Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #10) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 116 reviews.
1DANA3 More than 1 year ago
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....
jdetroit More than 1 year ago
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.
Nom_de_PlumeSB More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
MommyOf2IL More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alexander McCall Smith again brings Precious to life for us. A wonderful, quiet, and gentle read for all.
Andrene More than 1 year ago
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!
Poeful More than 1 year ago
" 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.
SCB59 More than 1 year ago
Another delightful addition to The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series".
CUParent More than 1 year ago
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.
AiChi-teacher More than 1 year ago
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!
huckfinn37 More than 1 year ago
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.
LizTN More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt the best series I have read to date. I just love the simplicity of Precious Ramotswe's love of life
Look-it-up More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
EdRTX More than 1 year ago
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.
CharlotteDay More than 1 year ago
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.
gl More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago