The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

Know that, no matter how bleak things seem or how sad you may be, after reading a No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book, life and the world will seem much better. With genuine warmth, sympathy, and wit, Alexander McCall Smith can be counted on to explore difficult questions about life, marriage, parenthood, grief, and the importance of the traditions that influence and guide our lives.

Modern ideas get tangled up with traditional ones in the fourteenth installment in the much-loved, best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. The conflict between new ways and old ways is a major theme in The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. Mma Ramotswe manages, as she does so well, to blend the two for a fulfilling life for her husband and children and all the others in her world.

In The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, Precious Ramotswe takes on two puzzling cases. First, she is approached by the lawyer Mma Sheba, who is the executor of a deceased farmer’s estate. Mma Sheba has a feeling that the young man who has stepped forward may not be who he says he is. Then the proprietor of the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon comes to Mma Ramotswe for advice. The opening of her new salon has been has not been successful. Someone is spreading damaging rumors about her shop. Could someone be trying to put the salon out of business?

Meanwhile, at the office, Mma Ramotswe has noticed something different about Grace Makutsi lately. Though Mma Makutsi has mentioned nothing, it has become clear that she is pregnant . What will happen to the agency without the associate detective?

Does anyone know how to pronounce Mma or Rra? For the answer, check . There Smith informs us that: “Mma and Rra are the formal terms of greeting and respect in Botswana. Mma is pronounced ‘Ma’, with a gentle m sound and a shortish a. Rra is exactly as it is spelt, with a rolling R.” (Unfortunately, I have never learned to roll my R’s!)

HBO had a series based on the first few books in this series. I tried to watch but never really got into it, not because it wasn’t well-done, but because the actors and the setting didn’t fit the mental picture I had formed while reading the books. That’s always the problem with bringing a book to a screen.

Did you know that there are Alexander McCall Smith-approved tours of Gaborone in Botswana? Smith’s books do much to introduce the reader to the customs, history, and society of this country. In the same website, Smith answered the question “Why did you choose to write about Botswana?”

I suppose that the main reason is that I find Botswana a very interesting and admirable country. I respect the people who live there – they have built up their country very carefully and successfully. I admire their patience and their decency.

I thought, too, that it was a great pity that there are so many negative books and articles about Africa. I wanted to show readers in the rest of the world that there are many great and remarkable people living in southern Africa – people who lead good lives, with honour and integrity. Mma Ramotswe is one such person. There are many people like her – fine people, people with great gifts of intuition, intelligence, and humour. This is not to say that there are not many problems in that part of the world – there are. But the problems are only one side of the story – there is another, more positive side.

If you have not read any books in the series, I strongly suggest that you begin at the beginning. The books build on each other; you won’t get all the allusions unless you have read the other books. Never fear, though the effort is well worth it.


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