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2 Beaverton Mystery- A to Z
2 Burnside Mystery- A to Z

The Full Cupboard of Life


The Full Cupboard of Life Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. There are many references in The Full Cupboard of Life to “the old Botswana morality” [p. 7]. In what ways is Mma Ramotswe a traditional, old-fashioned Botswanan woman? How is she modern? According to Mma Ramotswe, what is “the right sort of woman” [p. 5]? How do she and Mr J.L.B. Matekoni embody the old Botswana morality?

2. What is Mma Ramotswes general opinion of men? Is it a stereotypical view? Is her fiancé, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, a typical male? What does she think the characteristic differences between the sexes are? How does this affect her interactions and dealings with both men and women?

3. For Mma Ramotswes clients, how is visiting with her like talking with a therapist? What psychological tactics does she employ with her clients and in solving their cases? How would you describe Mma Ramotswes approach to being a detective?

4. Much of the activity in The Full Cupboard of Life centers around drinking tea. Why is it so important in the lives and daily routines of the characters? What does that say about the culture of Botswana? [Note the chapter titled “Tea Is Always the Solution.”]

5. More so than in the first four novels, Mma Ramotswe comments on love in The Full Cupboard of Life. What are her views on love, romantic relationships, and marriage? How is forgiveness connected to love in Mma Ramotswes view? How is timing tied to love in her opinion? What determines her love for Mr J.L.B. Matekoni? What threatens to undermine their relationship and their engagement?

6. Mma Potokwane and Mma Makutsi both think of titles for books they may someday write such as How to Run an Orphan Farm and How to Get Ninety-Seven Per Cent. Have you ever thought of using your expertise to write a book? What are some titles for books you or other members of your book group could write?

7. How does McCall Smith use landscape imagery in this novel? What are some similarities and differences between Mochudi village life and the busier world of Gaborone? How do these locations compare with your hometown? Could these books have taken place anywhere other than in southern Africa? How has the landscape influenced Mma Ramotswe? Do you think the landscape has influenced the author as well? Have his descriptions influenced you?

8. Mma Ramotswe is a big fan of Clovis Andersens The Principles of Private Detection. What sort of advice does the guide provide? Why does Mma Ramotswe admire Andersen so much?

9. What are the distinctive characteristics of the authors writing style? What is so compelling about the voice and description in the novel? How do you think Alexander McCall Smiths background as a Scottish medical law professor who grew up in southern Africa has affected his books?

10. What is the significance of the title? What might be some other suitable titles for this book? Why does Alexander McCall Smith name the chapters with descriptive title-like headings? And how do they contribute to the novel as a whole?

11. For discussion of THE FULL CUPBOARD OF LIFE and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series

How is Mr J.L.B. Matekoni portrayed differently in The Full Cupboard of Life than in the four previous books in the series? What new dimension is added to his character? What about Mma Ramotswe? Is she fairly consistent throughout the series, or does McCall Smith constantly reveal new aspects of her character? What about the other principal characters in the books—Mma Makutsi, Mma Potokwane, the apprentices? Have they grown into fuller characters and matured over the course of the novels?

12. What constitutes the main action in this book? Does Mma Ramotswe actually solve any mysteries in The Full Cupboard of Life? Compare and contrast The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books to other mystery series youve read and enjoyed. Are these books mysteries in the traditional sense? Do you think they are mysteries at all? How would you classify them?

13. How does the author incorporate Mma Ramotswes personal history and her adventures in the previous novels into The Full Cupboard of Life? Why does he do this? Do you think reading The Full Cupboard of Life would be the same without having read the first four books?

Product Details

McCall Smith, Alexander
Anchor Books
Smith, Alexander McCall
Smith, Alexander McCall
Mystery & Detective - General
Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths
Mystery fiction
Ramotswe, Precious (Fictitious character)
Mystery-A to Z
fiction;mystery;botswana;africa;detective;crime;novel;mma ramotswe;precious ramotswe;no. 1 ladies detective agency;humor;detective fiction;women;crime fiction;literature;mysteries;cozy;contemporary;female detective;ramotswe;private investigator;women dete
fiction;mystery;botswana;africa;detective;crime;novel;mma ramotswe;precious ramotswe;no. 1 ladies detective agency;humor;detective fiction;women;crime fiction;literature;mysteries;cozy;contemporary;female detective;ramotswe;private investigator;women dete
Edition Description:
Trade paper
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.52x5.54x.60 in. .48 lbs.

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The Full Cupboard of Life Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Anchor Books - English 9781400031818 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Precious Ramotswe is on the case again in this delightful fifth installment in the bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, this time assisting the self-made founder of a chain of hairdressing salons who wants to unearth the real intentions of her four suitors, each possibly more interested in her money than her heart. As fans know, though, sleuthing takes second place to folksy storytelling in McCall Smith's wry novels. This time around, Mma Ramotswe is distracted by her long-prolonged engagement to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Gaborone's best mechanic; it seems she will never be married, despite her fiancé's honorable intentions. He installs an extra large seatbelt in her car to keep her safe (she is quite comfortable with her 'traditional build,' despite the new, slender fashion of modern woman), but an altercation with another mechanic and the prospect of a charity parachute jump keep his mind off matrimony. A drive for decency motivates Mma Ramotswe and her friends — among them Mma Potokwani, the imperious matron of the local orphan farm, and Mma Makutsi, assistant at the Ladies' Detective Agency and founder of the Kalahari Typing School for Men — and Smith's talent is in portraying this moral code in a manner that is always engaging. As readers will appreciate, Mma Ramotswe solves her cases — more questions of character, really, than of criminal behavior — in good time. Traditionally built ladies living in the African heat don't tend to hurry, and, at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, there's always time for another cup of tea. Agent, Robin Straus. (Apr. 20) Forecast: Fans will love the surprise in store for Precious Ramotswe at the end of the novel, and should bump this on bestseller lists." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Utterly enchanting."
"Review" by , "The Full Cupboard of Life is by no means oppressively sweet, but it is committed to looking on life's sunny side. And its characters...have a primitivism that is as reductive as it is warm....[B]ig-hearted..."
"Review" by , "The tremendous appeal of this delightful series comes from the unique manner in which Smith mixes the charm of both traditional and contemporary village cozies...with a comical Runyonesque formality of language and a grasp of human relations that is very like Jane Austen."
"Review" by , "Thankfully, Mma Precious Ramotswe is back in another delightful adventure....Sure to please both enduring fans and new readers, this is highly recommended for all fiction and mystery collections."
"Review" by , "Another charmingly gossamer mystery for Botswana's premier detective....As usual in this enchanting series, Mma Ramotswe provides less detection than advice, and wise advice it turns out to be, even when her clients decline to take it."
"Review" by , "The fifth installment of the best-selling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series brims with the same old-fashioned charm as its lovely predecessors....Perfect for the bath."
"Synopsis" by , The latest novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series continues the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with problems in their lives."
"Synopsis" by , THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY - Book 5

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective.  In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea.


Still engaged to the estimable Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe understands that she should not put too much pressure on him, as he has other concerns, especially a hair-raising request from the ever persuasive Mma Potokwane, matron of the orphan farm. Besides Mma Ramotswe herself has weighty matters on her mind. She has been approached by a wealthy lady to check up on several suitors. Are these men interested in the lady or just her money? This may be a difficult case, but it's just the kind of problem Mma Ramotswe likes and she is, as we know, a very intuitive lady.

"Synopsis" by , The fifth installment in the bestselling No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, picks up with Mma Precious Ramotswe still engaged to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. She realizes that her fianc has other things on his mind--most notably a frightening request from the assertive matron of the orphan farm.
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