Tent-er, loving care

Apr 26, 2012, 07:11 IST | Hemal Ashar

Alexander McCall Smith fans can greet this one with a cheer holding a cup of redbush tea.

The author goes one step further in his The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, with the book, ‘The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party’. The book has familiar settings — the detective agency and its traditionally built protagonist Mma Ramotswe, is still there but this time, Ramotswe’s assistant, Mma Makutsi shares the same space as Ramotswe.

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, Alexander McCall Smith, Hachette, Rs 395

The big party as the title says, is about Makutsi’s wedding to Phuti Radiphuti. McCall’s book begins with an analogy comparing cars to human souls, “A good tar road is balm to man and machine and may produce a humming sound of satisfaction in both car and driver. Trademark humour and gentle wit mark the book. Several plots are interlaced quite effortlessly, a rakish young man with an eye for the girls learns about loyalty, a shy groom and bride learn about love and Mma Ramotswe learns that like in life in detecting cases too, there may not be one, simple ending.

There is plenty to laugh about — broken shoes and a pushy matron who self-invites herself to the wedding, frightening Makutsi about unexpected problems on wedding day. While the tone is always gentle, McCall goes to the core of the human situation, an angry son, an anguished mother and a lover; avenging the wrong done to the woman he loved. The writer also touches upon the balance between those in power and those they dominate, the former have the potential for kindness or cruelty. Like the writer says towards the end, “Why the world could be so beautiful and yet break the heart,” — profound paradoxes that he attempts to answer or simply leaves the reader to think about, McCall once again shows his dexterity at that.

Finally, the book rolls on to an all’s well that ends well kind of closing, only there is the matter of the air-head Violet Sephotho who is going to contest elections, the reader would like to know how the ladies who work hard would stymie that. But, never mind as, we see Mma Makutsi with her 97 per cent in the Botswana Secretarial School and Mma Potokwani with her guile would, we know, have found a way to ensure no votes for Violet. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party though, gets our vote.  

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