My latest fascination is for the Botswana of Mma.Precious Ramotswe. I’m talking about the main character of ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency‘ and her world. There are those who write well, there are tales that make you think. Alexander McCall achieves both with his series about a proud African lady detective. Mma.Ramotswe has an opinion on politics, morality, relationships and business. She is a modern lady of traditional build.
It has been a fair while since I could wax eloquent about a book. Alexander McCall Smith gives us six:
- The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
- Tears of the Giraffe
- Morality for Beautiful Girls
- The Kalahari Typing School for men
- The Full Cupboard of Life
- Blue Shoes and Happiness
Mma. Ramotswe’s Botswana is gentle, unostentatious and simple. The problems she attempts to solve involve other people’s errors of judgement and plain human folly. Her methods combine logic, intuition and some traditional Botswana values. And they work! You know how the mark of a good book is that it gives you something to think about every time you read it? I’ll add to that, a good book, like a good person also helps you see a side of yourself.
I’ve been going through this series in the past couple of months (occasionally alternated with another book). I’ve also been feeling considerably content with life. Yes, a powerful character, even if she is fictitious can change your way of thinking. And Mma.Ramotswe has all sorts of tricks up her ample sleeve, including the basic yet complex trick of being happy. Read the books, they really are a joyful experience.
In the meantime I wonder what it must feel like to be J.K.Rowling at the
moment. She’s one of the richest people in the world, by virtue of her role as creator of Harry Potter, the one and only cult figure in my generation. At the moment, she is also one of the few people who knows exactly what happens to Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Voldemort and the rest of the characters in the magical world that has regaled all of us for the better part of a decade. To those who compare her unfavorably with Tolkien, I think that’s a tad unfair. The influence is undeniable but then who’s denying it? Anyone who has read the works of the father of fantasy cannot help but show traces of his impact. Besides, think….she has brought an entire generation of children back into the world of books. Reading is fashionable again. I admit it isn’t her handiwork alone but she certainly has helped spawn an entire tribe of new readers, not to mention the sub-genre of ‘magical fiction’ that gives us such books as Eragon.
Her website has an amused/stern warning to the kids that frequent her house and rummage her cupboards that,
What they are looking for has long before been moved to a safe location!
Why blame the kids when hordes of adults are waiting with bated breath for the final instalment of the Hogwarts books?
A few thoughts from someone who’s been following the series closely:
1. Will Harry die in the seventh book? I think not. While Rowling has maintained a trend of killing off a key character in each book, I doubt she’ll attack the protagonist himself. It stops her from writing future (more money-spinning) Potter books, doesn’t it? On the other hand, as the debate goes, she might just do it, just to prevent other authors writing sequels. She has promised to not ‘go the Star Wars way’ and write pre-quels. I’d think her only option is keep Potter’s future open and available for the fans to lap up and keep her in money for a long, long time to come.
2. Did Sirius Black really die? Once again, I doubt it. After all, there wasn’t ever a body or even blood. Remember Gandalf the Grey in Lord of the Rings and his ‘death’ and re-appearance in the third book? Hmm, bear in mind the Tolkien influence.
3. Who on earth is R.A.B.? Her website says that ‘Regulus Black is a very good guess’. I’ve been running through my memory for other characters whose names fit those initials and I’ve come up with duds. No one else. Guess that’s pretty clear then, unless there’s a new character?
4. Somehow I thought Luna Lovegood would make a great partner for Harry Potter. Wasn’t expecting Ginny Weasley…that’s so Bollywood, isn’t it? But then again, I’m partial to the odd one…if I’d been a character in the book, I’d have been Loony Luna.
5. Harry isn’t really a powerful wizard per se. All his victories have been helped greatly by other people – Hermione, Dumbledore, Fawkes the phoenix, members of the Order. The sixth book keeps stressing on how Voldemort has marked him out to be his equal. What if Neville Longbottom, the other option, turns up with hitherto unsuspected genius? He fits the bill too, doesn’t he as the nerdy, unobstrusive, clumsy kid? I’ll bank on this one. I only wish they’d gotten a boy with better teeth to play the role. He’s turning out to be fairly ugly in the movie series.
6. Where’s Percy in all this? And whatever happened to that girlfriend of his who was Petrified in the second book..Penny something I think? If the seventh book really does tie off all loose ends, then there ought to be mention of this somewhere. And Charlie Weasley hasn’t made a satisfactory appearance in the series, except for a brief glimpse in The Goblet of Fire. Who’s betting he’ll be back?
7. I’d love to know more about Mr.Ollivander, the maker of wands. Where did he disappear and what was he all about?
8. Oh and by the way I have some strong notions on the movies. The actor who plays Sirius Black is a shattering disappointment. I was expecting an unshaven, tall rogue with all the dash and glamour of the Bad Boy. Instead they give us someone who looks like a neighborhood goonda gone to seed. While on this, I imagined Lupin to be this nice looking, fairly pleasant faced man. The werewolf-wizard instead looks like a shifty-eyed rascal even in his ‘human’ form. And what’s this about Snape? Instead of lean, lanky, greasy-haired menacing evil, we have someone who just looks like a grumpy Punjabi (incidently have you ever met a grumpy Punju? I haven’t.)
I’ll end this rambling here. The past few days have been spent immersed deeply in the lives of Mma.Ramotswe and Harry Potter and they’re starting to seem more real to me than the rains outside my window. Maybe X is right and I should stop reading so much. On the other hand Botswana and Hogwarts are infinitely more appealing than stressful workplaces, muddy roads, ex-boyfriends and matrimony-obsessed family members.