The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith. Alfred A. Knopf Canada 2011.
Mr. McCall Smith is a prolific writer. His output is amazing. He keeps on top of no less than four series, and still has time for miscellaneous other titles such as La’s Orchestra Saves the World. While I have sampled entries in all of his various series, none of them have engaged me like his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books.
Set in Botswana, the series features Mma Ramotswe, who, upon receiving an inheritance from her beloved father, establishes a detective agency in Gaborone. She is guided by that seminal work on the art of detection, The Principles of Private Detection by Clovis Andersen. She is aided by Mma Grace Makutsi, her secretary and assistant detective and supported by her husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and a cast of engaging characters.
In The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, the twelfth book in the series, Mma Matekoni is finally, after a lengthy engagement, to be married to Mr. Phuti Radiphuti. Of course, a great deal of planning is required, including buying new shoes! Charlie’s philandering ways have led him into trouble, and, amazingly, the little white van, so sadly missed, has been seen about town. Meanwhile, a client seeks out Mma Ramotswe to find the culprit who has attacked his cattle.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series was developed as a T.V. series starring Jill Scott as Mma. Ramotswe. I don’t get the necessary channel to watch the show on television, but was able to rent the video this winter. Readers are always fearful as to how their beloved favorite characters may be treated on film, but this production was very satisfactory and I did find myself imagining the faces of the stars as I read The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party. Mma Ramotswe has her own Facebook page.
I enjoyed this book as much as earlier entries in the series and can do no better than repeat these words from my review of The Double Comfort Safari Club:
The books bring to mind adjectives such as charming, heart-warming, delightful and endearing, but for all that, Smith somehow is able to avoid sticky sweetness. Instead, Smith offers up a sympathetic look at the foibles of human nature as Mma Ramotswe brings her gentle wisdom and wit to bear on the problems her customers bring to the Agency. In this outing, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi travel to the north of Botswana, to a safari camp on the Okavango Delta, to deliver an inheritance.
I enjoyed the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series from the very first book, but Smith really hit his stride after a few outings, and now each book is like returning to spend an afternoon sitting in the shade with old friends on a hot afternoon, sipping bush tea and hearing the latest news. Start at the beginning, and enjoy a summerful of satisfying reading.