Sneaking a last minute reading challenge book and matching manicure in under the 2018 wire here with Blue Shoes and Happiness, an entry in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of books by Alexander McCall Smith.
This gentle, deeply inoffensive little book about Precious Ramotswe, a lifelong resident of Botswana and proud founder of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, came as a recommendation from my mom, who could see, after the dense, multi-layered insanity that was Too Big to Fail, that I was in need of something with a softer touch.
Please don’t tell my mom, who adores this book series, but I…*lowers voice, glances about *…didn’t love Blue Shoes and Happiness. Nothing happened! There were some lovely descriptions of Botswana, and what the land means to Mma Ramotswe, a traditionally built (her words) rancher’s daughter besotted with her nation, but otherwise, it felt a bit soft, a bit simple. Oh dear lord, PLEASE don’t let my mom see this; she will crap a brick if she sees I’ve besmirched her beloved books!
I think part of my problem might be that I was thrown in the deep end of the No. 1 puddle; Blue Shoes and Happiness isn’t the first (or even the fifth) entry in the series. Compounding this feeling of being wildly out of step with Mma Ramotswe’s world is the fact that events started in a previous book find closure in Blue Shoes and Happiness, whereas other events started in Blue Shoes and Happiness are left to be resolved in some later book. The assumption here is that you will continue reading the next entry in the series to see how X situation is resolved, but you know what they say about assumptions.
The titular shoes in this case, and the inspiration for these simple nails, actually belong to Mma Ramotswe’s assistant in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Mma Makutsi. Mma Makutsi, proud graduate of the Botswana Secretarial Collage (with a 97 percent average, as she’s more than delighted to tell every single person she meets) has a weakness for beautiful shoes, something of a problem when you walk to work (itself housed in the back of an auto repair shop) on hard pan dirt roads. But Mma Makutsi falls hard for a wildly impractical pair of too-small sky blue shoes with lipstick red linings. Buy them, she must! So she does, and they’re too small, and she hobbles about for a bit looking like her feet have grown two blue satin-covered sausages, and Mma Ramotswe gently tells her she’s being a fool, which by that point, owing to a weird back-up of blood rising from her feet, she heartily agrees with, and we all go home happy, having learned a positive lesson of some sort, though I’ve no idea what that lesson might be. It was pretty silly and SO not my usual, but I tried to read it with an open mind, for my mom.
Pretty much the only thing Mmas Ramotswe and Makutsi can agree on is that donuts are yummy; much to Precious Ramotswe’s traditionally built consternation, they are as much a presence in the detective agency as the dim bulb apprentices who drift by from her husband’s auto repair shop out front. So for the Mmas, a wee donut on my thumb. And for my mama, my very best shot at this book.
6 thoughts on “Literary Inspiration: Blue Shoes and Happiness”
Oh boy. It is hard not loving a book rec from someone you love and who really loves said book. You handled this with grace though! My grandma, Ma, loves her Christian Amish love stories and I have read a few to satisfy her but…. oh man… they are a touch of a slog. The nails are lovely! Without the book reference they remind me of Dorothy, if she liked donuts. Maybe Dorothy in Muchkinland? I like that red.
That red is Different Dimension’s Naughty, and it’s scrumptious – I think it looks like a holographic candy apple. I’ve no idea if Different Dimension is still in business, and I don’t believe Harlow has restocked their polishes in ages, so who knows – sometimes these brands are just the hugest thing for years and then you never hear about them again. Just like wax. And perfume. And…
I get total Dorothy vibes off this mani, too – it’s the blue and red, and particularly these shades; they’re Dorothy perfection. 🙂
I can’t explain why, but I’ve always been repelled by this series. Just not my bag, but it does sound rather uplifting, which I get why people would seek that notion in their reading. I’m sure it certainly didn’t help to jump in the middle of a series. It’s funny that you posted this around now, because, of course, I had an idea for a reading challenge prompt in which you had to read a book your mom (or sub another relative) would love. You beat me to it! That prompt didn’t make our 2019 challenge, but I think it’s a fun one to explore, although, it would limit me to mostly religious texts. My mom is currently reading a book about the Pope, or Reminisce magazines, her sentiments truly lie in another era. Then, I thought it might be fun to read a book your mom would hate, heh, maybe next year:)
Yeah, before I found out that my mom was WAY into them, I sort of lumped them in with those kind of Left Behind books, but less apocalypse and more simple, traditional lives being led in simple, traditional Botswana. So pretty boring. Like rote writing (oh god, PLEASE don’t let my mom see this!)
I LOVE that challenge prompt, by the way, even if it means I’d have to read another No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book (it’s either that or Moll Flanders) but I also really like the books your mom would hate one, because that’s everything I read. I loaned her Pet Sematery, a favourite, and she was a total pooh about it – I think she got about 10 pages in before giving up. I was sads.
Yes, maybe I can get that challenge prompt to fly next year, it seriously fills me with glee.
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