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Monday Book Review: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency December 15, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Book Reviews.
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This is a busy time of year with Christmas just barely a week away, and I haven’t been reading as much as normal. I apologize for being late with the Monday Book Review this week, but I haven’t had time to finish my latest novel. So, yesterday afternoon, instead of reviewing, I baked Christmas cookies for a party at work tomorrow, while thinking about what books I have read in the relatively recent past that might be interesting to our readers. Hopefully, this post will be sufficiently insightful as to overcome the delay.

For a long time, I had wanted to read The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. The book had been on my shelf for years, but I buy too many books to read them all, and each time I finished one book and picked up another, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency moved further and further down my TBR (To Be Read list). Finally this past spring, HBO advertised a new series would premiere based upon the series of Ladies’ Detective Agency books. The commercials looked good, and I was quite interested in the series, except usually, I prefer to read a book BEFORE I see the story brought to life under someone else’s vision. Like most people, I am almost always disappointed by movie adaptations of beloved stories, since the director’s vision very rarely matches my own.

Image from HBO.com

I didn’t get a chance to read the books before the series started, but decided to watch anyway. I am so glad I did too, because the shows were extremely well done. The novels are set in Botswana, and according to the HBO website, this is the first series to be filmed entirely on location there. The scenery was absolutely beautiful: stunning landscapes and truly charming little villages. The actors were great and the stories were well plotted and executed. I fell in love with Mama Ramotswe’s friends and community, and cheered for her when she solved a case. I was genuinely disappointed when the season ended. Then I realized, I could have more of Precious and her friends by finally reading the books.

I will admit, I was a little worried that the HBO series would seem less impressive once I had read the novels. However, I found that as I read, I was picturing and hearing the voices of the actors from the show in my head, and it was a perfect fit. I cannot say that I would have been as satisfied had I read first, and watched second, but as it was, the books and shows went together flawlessly.

Unfortunately, the HBO show was developed (and the Pilot episode directed) by Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain), who died before the series finally premiered. I do not know if HBO will continue the series, and as of now, it does not seem they will, but I hope there will be more to look forward to. In the meantime, I will be reading the novels; there are at least 10 so far!

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