Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh

An absolute classic. How come I didn’t read it until now?

This special edition hardback (no. 126 of 1200), with black-and-red illustrations by Iain McIntosh, is a beauty. Maybe one day there will be such thing as an e-book signed by both the author and illustrator. Maybe. I don’t care really. I prefer the real thing.

She knew the railway station slightly. It was a place that she enjoyed visiting, as it reminded her of the old Africa, the days of uncomfortable companionship on crowded trains, of slow journeys across great plains, of the sugar cane you used to eat to while away the time, and of the pith of the cane you used to spit out of the wide windows. Here you could still see the station — or a part of it — here, where the trains that came up from the Cape pulled slowly past the platform on their journey up through Botswana to Bulawayo; here, where the Indian stores beside the railway buildings still sold cheap blankets and men’s hats with a garish feather tucked into the band.
Mma Ramotswe did not want Africa to change. She did not want her people to become like everybody else, soulless, selfish, forgetful of what it means to be an African, or, worse still, ashamed of Africa. She would not be anything but an African, never, even if somebody came up to her and said, ‘Here is a pill, the very latest thing. Take it and it will make you into an American.’ She would say no. Never. No thank you.

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