Miracle at Speedy Motors By Alexander McCall Smith
It just wouldn’t seem like summer without a new volume in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith. Some of us felt that the series was getting a little tired after The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, but this new book, Miracle at Speedy Motors, is thoroughly enjoyable and chock full of the wit and wisdom of this prolific author and of Madam Precious Ramotswe. We begin with Madam Ramotswe worrying over an anonymous threatening letter that she has received. She has also just read a piece of paper thrown into the trash basket by her assistant, Grace Makutsi, feeling “bad about having read it in the first place; one should not look uninvited at the papers of another, even if they have been discarded.”
This is the first of many wise observances.
The sights and scents of Africa are as vivid in this novel as in the others. It has been dry for a long time when the rainy season finally begins and when the rain stops, the flying ants descend.
“Suddenly, unexpectedly, the air was filling with flying ants, rising up from their secret burrows in the rain-softened ground….one of the sights that took one back to childhood, no matter what age one was”.
The apprentices at Speedy Motors eat the fallen ants with glee, as I remember the Ghanaians doing when I was a child in Africa. For me, these books evoke a few years of my own childhood.
Worries on her mind
Madam Ramotswe has a number of worries on her mind as she goes about solving her current cases.
She drives through the countryside of her childhood, “out here, out in the acacia scrub that stretched away to those tiny island-like hill on the horizon, the concerns of the working world seemed of little weight …. This was where she could always find peace”.
A visit to the orphan farm is needed to trace the family of a current client and while talking with Madam Potokwane it is observed that there are “not many subjects one could not raise with an old friend.
But there were some.
One thing one should never do is criticize, even in the gentlest of manners, the spouse of a friend, nor their children, nor their taste in music, their dogs, their possessions in general, their choice of clothes in particular, their children’s choice of clothes (or spouses), or their cooking.
Apart from that, one could talk about anything.”
I am at the risk of quoting the whole novel and leaving nothing for you to discover yourself.
I found this novel particularly subtle and sensitive, Madam Ramotswe is such a kind character.
She thinks a lot about her relationship with her adopted children and what motherhood – parenthood is all about; she thinks about her husband and her marriage, and about the concerns of her friends and associates.
Madam Ramotswe and Madam Potokwane observe that there is the public face and the private person, and the times when “sometimes everything could seem too much.”
Fruit cake and tea are then called for. And like bush tea and fruit cake Miracle at Speedy Motors is a great comfort.