Thursday, March 20, 2014

GUEST POST: The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon - Alexander McCall Smith

Please join us in welcoming Ashley Rayback!

Summary: Modern ideas get tangled up with traditional ones in the latest intriguing installment in the beloved, best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. 

Precious Ramotswe has taken 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 be falsely impersonating the farmer’s nephew in order to claim his inheritance. Mma Ramotswe agrees to visit the farm and find out what she can about the self-professed nephew. Then the proprietor of the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon comes to Mma Ramotswe for advice. The opening of her new salon has been shadowed by misfortune. Not only has she received a bad omen in the mail, but rumors are swirling that the salon is using dangerous products that burn people’s skin. 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 . . . But in Botswana—a land where family has always been held above all else—this may be cause for controversy as well as celebration. 

With genuine warmth, sympathy, and wit, Alexander McCall Smith explores some tough questions about married life, parenthood, grief, and the importance of the traditions that shape and guide our lives. (Summary and image from

My Review:  The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon is the fourteenth book (I know, right?!) in the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series.  I’ve read every book in this series, and so not only consider myself an aficionado on all things Precious Ramotswe, but am obviously a very big fan.

Let me start by saying this—if you haven’t read the series, you should. You don't need to read them all or read them in order to understand what’s going on, but you’ll probably want to. They’re well-written, insightful, kind, and wise. Although they are technically mystery books, I’d venture to say that they're about much more than that. They explore friendship and relationships and human nature in a subtle, poignant way that I love.

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon is a good installment because it goes into depth about the two main characters and their relationship. In the midst of normal goings-on in life, the book helps us understand what others mean to us and why, and explores the ways in which we support or tear down those around us.  One of my favorite things about this series is McCall Smith’s simple, beautiful insights. They’re quotable and everywhere in the books. I find myself thinking about them quite a bit long after the read is over.

These books are also, ultimately, about Africa. They’re a very interesting look into another culture, another place, another people. McCall Smith obviously has a deep love and understanding of Africa and of Botswana, and after reading this series, I very much appreciate Botswana and its culture and beauty. This book, more than others in the series, challenges traditional versus new views, which is a constant issue in Botswana and Africa as a whole.

My rating: 5 stars

For the sensitive reader: These books are clean. In this particular book there is an issue of incest discussed in brief, vague terms.

1 comment:

MindySue said...

Great review, Ashley!


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