Review: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

12 May

I’m discovering that reviewing audiobooks is a little trickier for me than paper books. My recall isn’t any worse (and may be better) but I can’t easily go back and confirm what I remember. This time, I also wanted to go back and verify something from a previous book in the series, which was even worse!

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I didn’t enjoy this as much as previous books in the series. I don’t know if I was just not in the right mood for it, or if the book wasn’t that compelling. All of the books have a very comfortable feel to them, like hanging out with interesting neighbors. In this book, the neighbors are having an ordinary day.

The mystery of the under-performing football team led to some interesting observations on human nature. I think there are a lot of similar conversations happening locally as we have the mystery of the under-performing hockey team. I didn’t have any problems with this story line, but it wasn’t enough to carry the book.

A second storyline involved Mma Makutsi and her nemesis from her secretarial school days, Violet Sephotho. Violet has decided that Mma Makutsi’s fiancé, Mr. Phuti Radiphuti, is too good for Mma Makutsi,and she decides to claim him for herself.

I liked the storyline, but I had some problems with how it was handled. Fairly early on, we have a couple of scenes where the reader sees Violet with Mr. RadiPhuti, putting this plot line in action. Everything after that we see from Mma Makutsi’s POV. I would have liked this to be consistent through the book. Either POV would have been fine with me. In addition, although the Violet story is wrapped up, I didn’t feel a sense of resolution at the end with Mma Makutsi and Mr. Phuti Radiphuti.

I’m not sure if the fate of Mma Ramotswe’s tiny white van is substantial enought to be called a plot line, or if it is a running thread through the book. It is a sweet story, and may be setting up an adventure for the next book.

I was disappointed not to see more of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni in this book. We see the two apprentices (and the younger one is even given a name and a life) but they seem to be stalled in apprenticeship, even after taking over considerable responsibility when Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni was disabled in a previous book. I’d miss them if they moved on, but I think it is time for them to take control of their lives.

There were a number of other small stories and themes running through the book. I think the cultural observations that came out of discussions of chairs and of walking were some of the most interesting parts.

Throughout the book, there was a lot of foreshadowing of dire events, which never came to pass. I’m not sure if this is a statement in itself, or another set up for the next book, or if I just have an over active imagination.

I listened to the audiobook. The narrator was wonderful as always in this series, and really adds to the experience for me.

Fans of the series will enjoy this. Casual readers can decide whether or not they want to pick it up. I would not start the series with this book.

View all my reviews.


Posted by on May 12, 2009 in books, reviews


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5 responses to “Review: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

  1. Britt

    May 12, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I couldn’t get into this series. And I’m not even sure why. I can see the appeal, and one of my best friends LOVES them…

    Just didn’t work for me.

    I’m not sure I could review audiobooks! My recall would be much worse, I think.

    • imbookingit

      May 13, 2009 at 5:49 pm

      I think the narrator of the audiobooks is tremendously helpful for me. Her voice, accent, and pronunciations really set the scene, and make it easier to get into.

  2. Sue

    May 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, but I’ve heard good things about it.

    When I review audio books, I have the same problem! I also like to include a quote from the book in my review. Now I often get the actual book from the library before I write the review, so I can find my quote in print and remind myself of critical points.


  3. rebeccareid

    June 20, 2009 at 6:34 am

    I’ve enjoyed the series — I think I’ve only read six of them and I look forward to reading more. It’s too bad that they don’t seem as good.


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