Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive

Posted by nliakos on June 23, 2007

by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon 2007)

I’ve read all the books in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.   I love the characters: Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni (even his wife calls addresses him thus!), Phuti Radiphuti, the two hapless apprentices and Mr. Polopetsi…  The stories are gentle and rambling, but there is always a solution to the problems at the end–or somewhere in the middle.  I love the way Smith romanticizes Botswana while still not shying away from the problems there and everywhere: AIDS, spousal abuse and betrayal, adoption, depression,….  What I particularly enjoy is listening to Lisette Lecat narrate the books in her inimitable way, speaking slowly as if there were all the time in the world, speaking the various accents (Boer, Setswana,…) in a way I could never imagine in my head were I just looking at the words.

I haven’t listened to The Good Husband of Zebra Drive yet–just read it, but I did enjoy it.  It focuses more on Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni than do the other books, in the sense that the reader sees much of the story from his point of view.   Readers know Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni as a quiet, gentle man who behaves with utmost integrity and kindness–one who may be easy to take advantage of.  He is a gifted mechanic, but not as clever as his detective wife.  In this novel, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni decides to try a little detective work on his own.  He is not successful in one way, but in another, he does manage to solve a problem.  Along the way, he discovers just how much he loves Mma Ramotswe.

Another thread in the novel is that of Mma Makutsi, now engaged to Phuti Radiphuti of the Double Comfort Furniture Store.  Mma Makutsi begins to resent Mma Ramotswe and decides to quit her job as Assistant Detective…. but everything works out in the end, of course!

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3 Responses to “The Good Husband of Zebra Drive”

  1. sulz said

    if you’re a big fan of precious ramotswe et al, then you may not want to read mccall smith’s other amateur sleuth book, the sunday philosophy club. many fans of the no. 1 ladies’ detective agency series are disappointed with that book. as for me, though, i actually both books. they’re very different but they have their own appeal.

  2. sulz said

    i actually like both books. sorry, left that out. 😛

  3. Nina said

    Hi Sulz,
    Although I haven’t tried The Sunday Philosophy Club series, I have read Portuguese Irregular Verbs. Since I have always loved languages, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a book like that, but I found I disliked the main character so much I couldn’t enjoy the book. Later I read that Smith never intended to publish the von Igelfeld books. As far as I am concerned, perhaps he should not have changed his mind! I did, however, enjoy 44 Scotland Street.
    Thanks for your comment!

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