In this latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Grace Makutsi encounters a pair of quandaries that will require all of her and Mma Ramotswe’s cleverness and generosity to resolve.
I was hooked from the first page ... Without a trace of tired formulaic writing (quite a challenge if you’ve been there 22 times before!), Smith's anchor character --- the eccentric self-made sleuth Precious Ramotswe --- and her slightly vain but good-hearted partner, Grace Makutsi, navigate through myriad details of community life waiting for cases to emerge, cases that only they can solve ... It’s a tried-and-true pattern, but one that never gets old, as all their experience is tested with every new variation on timeless human frailties such as deception, infidelity, personal vanity and situational business ethics. As in so many of his previous No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories, Smith is a master orchestrator of multiple plotlines and currents of influence. A Song of Comfortable Chairs is no exception ... evokes a feeling of growth and understanding that connects with every reader caught up in the vast embrace of a truly relatable character.
... aptly titled: reading the book is like sinking into an overstuffed chair, allowing oneself to relax and allow time to slow down. This is a story in no rush to be told. There are many asides, thoughts, impressions, all of which give flavor to the book, evoking a distinctive world. There’s no dramatic pacing, no staccato rhythm to the prose propelling the reader forward. Instead there’s a simple and complete appreciation for the characters and the world they inhabit ... McCall Smith is an author who sees his characters and their world, fully and tenderly. And that makes for a book that is as comforting to sink into as well-worn armchair.
That title could apply to virtually all of the 23 cozy, lyrical novels McCall Smith has written about Botswana's Precious Ramotswe but it's particularly applicable to this one, in which the subject is frequently furnishings ... as in all of the books featuring the resourceful women, the cases hint at sweetly sensible lessons about learning to get along with each other.