Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

by Alexander McCall Smith

Hardcover, 2009

Call number




Pantheon (2009), Edition: 1st, 224 pages


Precious Ramotswe uses her formidable detection talents to track down her tiny white van--sold by her estimable husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and stolen from its new owner--while simultaneously helping to explain the dreadful losing streak of a local football team and smoothing out a snag in Mma Makutsi's engagement to Mr Phuti Radiphut.

User reviews

LibraryThing member smik
An annual meet up with Precious Ramotswe, proprietor and founder of the No 1. Ladies Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana, is one of the pleasures of life. For me it is like renewing a friendship with an old friend.
For TEA TIME for the TRADITIONALLY BUILT is #10 in the series, the first of which was published back in 2008.

Mma Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutsi are called upon to investigate why a local football team has begun to lose on a regular basis. Mma Ramotswe's faithful little white van has a terminal illness, and Mma Makutsi's fiance Phuti Radiphuti does not recognise a Jezebel when he comes into contact with one. There is a more detailed synopsis in my earlier posting.

If you are looking for a blood and guts read, then this is not the book for you. As always with all the books in the series, this is a gentle progress, characterised by investigations into the small problems that loom so large in ordinary lives.

While I enjoyed the book, it is not the best in the series. I thought it felt a little padded out, with descriptions and philosophising as Mma Ramotswe ponders the meaning of life.
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LibraryThing member frisbeesage
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built is # 10 in the series about Mma Ramotswe. The series is set in Botswana and centers around a small detective agency and car repair garage. In this installment Mma Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutse solve a variety of mysteries including why the once famous soccer team, the Kalahari Swoopers can no longer win a single game.

If you haven't read this series before you should start with The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and you will be in for a treat. These are gentle, cozy mysteries that remind you about what is really important in life. You will come to feel that all the characters are friends and you'll be eager to catch up with them in each new book.

If you've been following the series all along then you won't be disappointed. Its always a treat to see how all my old friends are doing! Mma Potokwane doesn't appear as much as usual, but we get to know Puso, the little white van, and the apprentices a little bit better. I found the book very satisfying and a nice escape from the stress currently in my life.
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LibraryThing member debnance
When people in Botswana feel stressed, they make tea. When I feel stressed, I read an Alexander McCall Smith book.It works like a charm for me.
LibraryThing member sarah-e
This is one of the more family-centered books of the series. Precious' love for her husband seems to almost catch her off guard when he is called out of town. Her relationship with Puso has improved since the Hoopoe incident a few books back. What I found most compelling was her devotion to her father and his traditional values. Her sentimentality is strong as she thinks about the good man he was, and as she goes so far to keep her tiny white van. I got the impression that she was doing it to hang on to a bit of her father. As always, life in Botswana is scandalous and mysterious, and Mma Ramotswe takes cases in stride.… (more)
LibraryThing member Noofy
My favourite bit of this book was the scene where Mma Ramotswe is worried about Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni coming home late from work. Her love for him is something that is never specifically addressed before, being implied rather than spelt out, and the scene where she rushes from the car to greet him was very touching.
The book itself as a whole was different from the others in the series. The cases that Mma Ramotswe solves are both slightly anti-climactic in their endings, fizzling out in a rather rushed manner. The focus in the book is more on exploring relationships so the cases are naturally given a back seat; however you are left feeling that the book should be longer in order to fully detail the cases.
Again, other characters are given development - Mma Makutsi continues to have some chapters told from her point of view (the weakest parts in my opinion as I struggle to like her character), and it is nice to get some insight into the character of the second apprentice. I get the impression that his story will be addressed again in future.
However, this slight shortfall doesn't ruin the book and this is a nice continuation of a very enjoyable series.
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LibraryThing member idiotgirl
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Audiobook. (I only listen to these books--a charming reading to say the least.) What can I say. Always predictable. Always enjoyable. Meandering narrative. I forgive it so much because of its easy stance. I always have this second sense reminding these books are written by a man. A charming man. But he likes his women charming, moral, feisty. But. . . . Still I'm a Ladies Detective completist. What can I say?… (more)
LibraryThing member etxgardener
This is the 10th book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. As with the other books Mma Ramotswe and her eccentric assistant, Mma Makutsi are faced with several mysteries, none of which are earth shaking, but all of which are dealt with with gentle wisdom and understanding of the foibles of human nature.

In this volume Mma Ramotswe must face the fact that her ever-faithful tiny white van is probably on its last legs and try as she might she cannot find a way to get it repaired.

Meanwhile Mma Makutsi is faced, once again with her rival from the Botswana Secretarial College, the man-eating Violet Sephotho who has gotten a job working for Mma Makutsi's fiance, Phuti Radiphuti at his furniture store. Will Violet get her claws into Phuti, or will she be exposed for who she really is.

And finally, the owner of the local soccer team employs the ladies to find out why his once winning team is now losing every game they play. Is there a traitor on the team who is deliberately throwing the games or is the problem something else?

With the help of many cups of bush tea and the gentle nature of Mma Ramotswe's understanding of human nature, all things can be solved.
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, takes on an unusual case for the owner of a football team. Once the best football team in Botswana, the Kalahari Swoopers are on a prolonged losing streak. The owner believes someone on the team is deliberately causing the team to lose. It's Mma Ramotswe's job to find out who. She will need help from her assistant, Grace Makutsi, to interview the many team members in a timely fashion. However, Mma Makutsi is distracted by her nemesis from the Botswana Secretarial College, Violet Sephotho, who has just been hired by Mma Makutsi's fiance, Phuti Radiphuti, to sell beds in his Double Comfort Furniture Shop. Mma Ramotswe must also deal with the loss of her beloved white van.

Nothing much happens in these gentle African mysteries, yet I find these books difficult to put down once I start reading. Precious Ramotswe's musings about her beloved Botswana, her late father Obed Ramotswe, and human nature in general, always remind me of the non-material blessings I enjoy in my own small corner of the world – health, a comfortable home, a supportive family, good friends and neighbors, and the companionship of my sweet dog.
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LibraryThing member robertgriffen
An enjoyable story continuing to document the light and humorous lives of the characters that the author has developed over the series. I hope that there will be more to come. Not so much Bush Tea drunk in this particular story. Having tried Bush Tea, I cannot say that it has the same attraction for me as it appears to have or the Lady Detectives and their clients!… (more)
LibraryThing member khiemstra631
Ahhh!!! Few things rate higher with me than the latest installment of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. While the mysteries may be few and inconsequential in these books, the words of wisdom and way of life are always profound. And then, there's the ever-looming presence of Botswana. All of our favorite characters return in this book, and there are new things to be learned about each. Brew a cup of tea, relax and enjoy this wonderful book. It was worth the wait!… (more)
LibraryThing member catarina1
Still charming but not quite as good as previous. There really is only one big mystery in this one for Mma Romotswe to solve. The tiny white van was sent to the junk yard, but Mma Makutse and Charlie are still bantering with one another, and we can still sit quietly and enjoy red bush tea.
LibraryThing member gaby317

The latest and tenth installment in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, we find the owner and proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Mma Precious Ramotswe is approached by the proprietor of a local football team to help him discover the reason behind the team's losing streak. Though unfamiliar with the rules and world of football, Mma. Ramotswe and her prickly assistant Mma Grace Makutsi enlist the help of Mma. Ramotswe's football loving and very observant adopted son, Puso. With their gentle prodding, interviewing and powers of deduction, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is tracks down the cause of the problem.

All the while, Mma Ramotswe is heartsick with a problem of her own. While she is happily married to Mr. J.L.B. Maketoni, one of Botswana's most talented mechanics, she is dismayed to discover that her much-loved and battered white van is finally giving out. Mma Ramotswe is loyal and recalls all the adventures with her white van. She is not ready to retire the van. She calls upon the help of Fanwell, Mr. Maketoni's second assistant, to see if the white van can be brought back to life.

Mma. Ramotswe's assistant, Grace Makutsi is herself distracted by trouble brewing with her fiance, the owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, wealthy and hardworking Mr. Phuti Radiphuti. Mr. Phuti has hired her nemesis from the Botswana Secretarial College, Violet Sephotho, as a new saleslady in his shop. Though Mr. Phuti is oblivious, Mma. Makutsi suspects that the beautiful and scheming Violet is plotting to steal him away. Mma. Makutsi searches for a way to remove the danger without alerting Mr. Phuti.

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built does not disappoint! As the latest in the series, we are happy to find Mma. Precious Ramotswe with her gentle and kind ways unchanged. She still pays respect to the traditional ways. She generously offers help and comfort to those who need it. As she gets to know Fanwell and his circumstances, you are glad to become better acquainted with the characters in her life. The constant sense of pride in Botswana and her love for her father are woven into the narrative but the book never dips to the maudlin, folksy or cute. This book is a very enjoyable way to pass a few hours!

I highly recommend it for fans of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, people fond of detective cozies, and someone looking for a heartwarming glimpse into another culture.
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LibraryThing member Clara53
What is it about this writer?... What is it about his "No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series that makes you feel so good, so protected, so optimistic, so loved, - as if you are given a warmest hug and told that everything shall be all right, always, no matter what... He is not uncovering any unknown truths, solving any philosophical riddles, and yet why is the simplicity of his narrative so appealing?... Plus his generous humor... Botswana. How much farther AND further can it get? And yet, A.McCAll Smith places us right in the middle of it and we feel at home!... I just hope he never stops writing!...… (more)
LibraryThing member riverwillow
It seems unfair to quibble with this book when it delivers exactly what you expect from this series, charming and gentle as it is. But somehow I didn't enjoy this one as much as I have previous books in the series and I can't quite tell you why, maybe it is just that it is too much the same as all that has gone before. Although I did enjoy the reappearance of the conniving Violet Sephotho.… (more)
LibraryThing member CatheOlson
I was really disappointed in this latest of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series. The first couple of chapters were pretty much recapping the rest of the series and even after that, the book was pretty dull -- with just a few bright spots. Worst was that Mma Ramotswe came off really condescending and martyrish to Mma Makutsi.
LibraryThing member elsi
Yet another delightful novel in McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Since I'm watching the mini-series on HBO every Sunday night, it was fun to read this new novel and visualize the characters and settings from the video.
LibraryThing member whimsicalkitten
Charming, as always, although Ma Romotwe's grief over her little white van was a little hard to swallow. Interesting perspective on the cases was that not every case truly has a solution.
LibraryThing member tututhefirst
This 10th book in the series is as gentle and delightful a read as the previous ones. In this episode, Mma R's little white van finally bites the dust, and she is in mourning. Her side-kick Grace Makutsi is busy keeping her fiance Mr. Phuti Radiphuti out of the evil clutches of her nemesis from the Botswana Secretarial College, Violet Sephotho.

In the meantime, the agency is hired by Mr. Molofololo, the owner of a local football team, to look into why his team has been losing. Is, as he suspects, one of the players sabotaging the games? Neither Precious nor Grace knows a thing about 'football' (soccer) and it takes the help of Mma Ramotswe's foster son Puso to get the answer.

This series is one of my all time favorites. On the surface, it's hard to say why. It certainly is not in the same league of other 'mysteries' or detective stories, but the grace, gentleness, courtesy, and pleasant good writing guarantees that when I pick one up and read it, I will put the book down feeling good about human beings. In addition, McCall Smith's wonderful introduction and explanation of the customs, traditions and culture of Botswana are truly enlightening for someone who has never been there. If you are lucky enough to get it in audio, the cadence of Lisette Lecat's readings adds even more richness. These books were made to be heard, not just read.

Since Precious is still searching for her white van, an 11th book looks like a good bet.
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LibraryThing member isabelx
For her part, Mma Ramotswe did not stand on ceremony; nor did she try to give anybody the impression that the business was larger and grander than it really was. “People will judge us by our results,” she said to Mma Makutsi. “Results are the important thing.”
Mma Makutsi contemplated this. “That is a pity, Mma,” she observed. “Because our results are sometimes not very good.”
Mma Ramotswe shook her head. “But I think they are, Mma. Sometimes we do not find out exactly what clients want, but we find out what they need to know. There is a difference, you know.”

Mma Ramotswe is hired by the owner of a local football team the Kalahari Swoopers to find out why his team are no longer winning, while the devious Violet Sephotho takes a job in the bed department at Phuti Rhadiphuti's furniture shop, leaving Mma Makutsi distraught at the thought that Violet is planning to steal her fiance

If you've been enjoying this series, you need to read this book, even if it's only to discover the name of the younger apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.… (more)
LibraryThing member devenish
Alexander McCall Smith is,I think,some sort of genius.Why ? Because no one else could write a series of (up to yet) 10 books about A Botswana Ladies Detective Agency,in which little or nothing of importance ever happens,yet are very popular and readable.
'Tea Time for the Traditionally Built' is no exception. There is a case regarding the local football team and why they are losing all of their games. There is the potential demise of Mma Ramotswe's little white van and the heartbreak attached. Also Mma Makutsi's troubles with he old rival Violet Stephotho,when she plots to steal Mma Makutsi's future husband.
Not at all the stuff of serial killers,fast car chases and thrill-a-minute novels that are the norm these days - but somehow,against all odds,they work,and work well too.
A throughly pleasant and enjoyable read once again. A true joy to brighten this rather gray age that we live in.
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LibraryThing member chmessing
So, now I've read all the books written in this series. Debating giving one of the author's other series a try...
LibraryThing member seoulful
The dominant theme of this latest No 1 Ladies Detective Agency offering from Alexander McCall Smith is the weakness of men, which though settled opinion, does not detract from a woman's desire to have and to hold onto her man. Mma Makutsi decries the weak men who "may know they should look for the finer qualities in a woman, but they do not do it. They see instead the clothes that a woman wears and they look at her figure and the way she walks..." On another occasion, Mma Ramotswe laughs, "...men are always like that. They need us Mma. What would they do if we were not there to tell them where their clothes are? They would be walking around with no clothes on because they would not be able to find them." The story revolves around a formerly successful football (soccer) team that suddenly and mysteriously begins losing games. The case is once more solved by the observant eyes and deductive powers of the lady detectives of Gabarone, Botswana. The usual fine writing but a rather weak storyline.… (more)
LibraryThing member Figgles
More of the same from Alexander McCall Smith - and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. The gentle doings of Precious Ramotswe, her familiy and friends are charming and soothing and a reminder to us all to be kind to one another. These books make me want to be a better person, and surely that is no bad thing...
LibraryThing member rightantler
As always an enjoyable read. I feel the ending was a bit rushed and a bit overly simple, but that didn't prevent the enjoyment
LibraryThing member nyiper
This is not really a review except to say that I absolutely love this series--the valuable life lessons are both amusing in their presentation and delightful to listen to on the audio versions of the entire series. Lisette Lecat is exceptional as the reader and I just hope this is not the last we hear from Precious Ramotswe.




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