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Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall…
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Book number seven in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. This one features a dishonest doctor, a food-embezzling cafeteria worker, and a strange disturbance at a game preserve. But while I found at least some of these cases and their solutions a little more interesting in themselves than usual, the thin wisps of plot are never the point of these books. The charm, as always, is in the characters, and the setting, and the odd but lovable writing style.

Yeah, these books do all have a certain kind of sameness to them, and at the beginning I half-expected that by the time I was this far into the series, I'd be getting tired of it. But I absolutely haven't. At this point, reading these feels remarkably like wrapping myself up in the familiar comfort of a warm, fuzzy blanket. And this one gave me that feeling more than ever, maybe because a warm, fuzzy blanket of a book is exactly what I needed right now. And even when it touches (very gently) on dark or controversial things, or when I disagree with the characters' philosophies on something, that feeling somehow never disappears or fades. ( )
  bragan | Dec 29, 2016 |
Simon Prebble
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
Book 7 of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series is a heartwarming story as they all are. This one seemed particularly reflective. Precious Ramotswe's work is busy but mostly with non-paying customers but she manages to right a few of the wrongs going on around her. I really liked this one. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
Mma Ramotswe says, "That is the important thing ... To feel happiness and then to remember it."
THAT is exactly what these books deliver. I am just plain happy reading them, and remembering them. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 14, 2016 |
After reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency a couple of years ago, I accumulated a few of these, and went through 6 in less than a month. They're very quick reads - I read 2 and part-of-a-third in one day.

They're very entertaining, charming, and compulsively readable. Although marketed as mysteries; they're not, really. Rather they follow Mma Ramotswe and those around her through their daily lives - it's almost besides-the-point that the business she runs is a detective agency. The stories are suffused with McCall-Smith's obvious sincere love of Africa (where he grew up), and the reader feels that a genuine window has opened up into the lives and mindsets of ordinary Africans. I don't agree with many aspects of Precious Ramotswe's view on the world, and I probably wouldn't get along with her in real life - but these books made me feel like I might understand people like her more than before.

However... there's also a weird aspect to the books. They're so relentlessly cozy. It's not that McCall-Smith ignores the poverty, the devastation of AIDS, the lack of education, etc... these things are acknowledged, but then almost swept to the side. On the one hand, it's a celebration of the spirit of the people of Botswana and their love of their homeland... but on the other hand, it sometimes feels like a minimization of these things. It's not just larger social issues: there's domestic abuse, adultery, etc... all the normal foibles of humanity (although all reference to sex of any kind are totally non-existent)- but all the unpleasant things somehow get almost drowned out in the cozy, feel-good atmosphere of the books. Maybe it's just that I usually read darker, grittier material [especially in mysteries {McCall-Smith is no Stieg Larsson!}] but it felt a bit strange to me. I can't decide if it's a detriment or a positive asset to the books.

In 'Blue Shoes and Happiness' Mma Ramotswe's beloved van is stolen. Luckily, her new (as of last book) employee, Mr. Polopetsi, comes to the (ingenious) rescue. However, his attempts to solve and remedy the mystery of why a whole village seems frightened and worried do not go so well. Mma Makutsi has a bit of a misunderstanding with her fiance, and the detective agency handles a case of blackmail, and helps a nurse who is concerned about a doctor's possible wrongdoing, gratis. Mma Makutsi also insists on buying a pair of fancy blue shoes, even though they clearly do not fit. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
This will be familiar territory for fans of the series. Cases are cracked thanks to her traditional common sense and the consumption of vast quantities of tea, while the main concern of the novel is the pursuit of that most elusive state of being: happiness.
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This book is for Bernard Ditau in Botswana and Kenneth and Pravina King in Scotland
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When you are just the right age, as Mma Ramotswe was, and when you have seen a lot of life, as Mma Ramotswe certainly had, then there are some things that you just know.
"We are all human beings," Mma Ramotswe had once observed to Mma Makutsi, "and human beings can't really help themselves. Have you noticed that, Mma? We can't really help ourselves from doing things that land us in all sorts of trouble."
One day, when he retired, they would move out to a village, perhaps to Mochudi, and find land to plough and cattle to tend. Then at last there would be time to sit outside on the stoep with Mma Ramotswe and watch the life of the village unfold before them. That would be a good way of spending such days as remained to one; in peace, happy, among the people and cattle of home. It would be good to die among one's cattle, he thought, with their sweet breath on one's face and their dark, gentle eyes watching right up to the end of one's journey, right up to the edge of the river.
And where would we be in a world without the old Botswana morality? It would not work, in Mma Ramotswe's view, because it would mean that people could do as they wished without regard for what others thought. That would be a recipe for selfishness, a recipe as clear as if it were written out in a cookery book: Take one country, with all that the country means, with its kind people, and their smiles, and their habit of helping one another; ignore all this; shake about; add modern ideas; bake until ruined.
All about them there were well-dressed crowds, people with money in their pockets, people buying for homes that were slowly beginning to reflect Botswana's prosperity. It had all been earned, every single pula of it, in a world in which it is hard enough to make something of one's country, in a world of selfish and distant people who took one's crops at rock-bottom prices and wrote the rules to suit themselves. There were plenty of fine words, of course—and lots of these came from Africa itself—but at the end of the day the poor, the people who lived in Africa, so often had nothing to show for their labours, nothing. And that was not because they did not work hard—they did, they did—but because of something that was wrong which made it so difficult to get anywhere, no matter how hard they tried.
One should not hold a grudge against another, [the old Botswana morality] said, because to harbor grudges was to disturb the social peace, the bond between people.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375422722, Hardcover)


Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective.  In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea.

A cobra has been found in Precious Ramotswe’s office. Then a nurse from a local medical clinic reveals that faulty blood–pressure readings are being recorded there. And Botswana has a new advice columnist, Aunty Emang, whose advice is rather curt for Mma Ramotswe’s taste.

All this means a lot of work for our heroine and her inestimable assistant, Grace Makutsi, and they are, of course, up to the challenge. But there’ s trouble brewing in Mma Makutsi’s own life. When Phuti Radiphuti misses their customary dinner date, she begins to wonder if he is having second thoughts about their engagement. And while Mma Makutsi may be able to buy that fashionably narrow (and uncomfortable) pair of blue shoes, it may not buy her the happiness that Mma Ramotswe promises her she’ll find in the simpler things—in contentment with the world and enough tea to smooth over the occasional bumps in the road.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:49 -0400)

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Precious Ramotswe and her assistant, Grace Makutsi, investigate local advice columnist Aunty Emang, who may be linked to trouble at a local medical clinic and the cobra that somehow ended up in Precious's office.

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