I cannot resist this series! McCall Smith has again written a charming and gentle story set in Botswana and featuring Precious Ramotswe, together with the usual support characters that I have grown to love over the previous twenty-one books.
As is always the case, the book is less about the plot and more about the philosophical questions raised, and the discussions that follow.
Questions about the role of women in society: ‘We have always asked too much of women in this country. They hold up the sky on their shoulders’.
Questions about modern slavery: ‘We thought that slavery was a thing of the past, but that was not true. There were slaves right under our noses – everywhere – all over the world’.
Questions about generational differences: ‘His two young mechanics lived in a completely different world, it seemed to him. This was not the world that he and Mma Ramotswe inhabited – a world in which people went about their business in an orderly way, drank tea at regular intervals, and retired to bed before nine-thirty at night’.
And always the acknowledgement of the wisdom of our elders: ‘We were not the first people to tread where we now trod; countless ancestors had come exactly this way. And although their footprints might have been blown away by the wind, we could sense their presence if only we opened our eyes and ears to it. And we could hear their voices, too, if we listened hard enough. We could hear their warnings, their encouragements, their advice – if only we turned our head to the wind and heard the voices, faint and distant, that the wind carried’.
The Joy and Light Bus Company does not disappoint. As the world faces its third year of pandemic, sharing bush tea and fruit cake with Precious Ramotswe, Grace Makutsi, J.L.B. Matekoni and the indomitable Mma Potokwani is like a soothing salve. Enjoy.