S4L Book Club – The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

S4L Book Club - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencyWho’s reading The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman in preparation for next month’s discussion? That book’s been on my shelf for a year-and-a-half, at least. It’s been on my bedside table three different times. I never got through it. The fourth time’s the charm, it seems. I won’t commit to liking to disliking it yet, but I’m no longer finding it difficult to read.

I know Chrissie and Kat loved it, and I’m guessing Becca will, too. Loads of people loved it—it won the 2009 Newbery Medal, for crying out loud. I hope you’ll read it and talk about it with us, even if I’m the only one with a different opinion. Who knows, maybe you’ll help me see things differently.

Mma Ramotswe makes a lot of less-than-flattering comments about men throughout the book. How do you think we’re supposed to take them? Do you think they’re culturally accurate?

As a young woman, Mma Ramotswe chooses to marry a less-than-ideal man. Why do you think the author made that choice for her? Do you think it fits her character?

Categories: Reading

4 replies »

  1. I finished The Graveyard Book today. It is wonderful. I also loved reading Neil Gaiman’s Newberry Address, which was included in the copy I have.

    I felt that Mma Ramotswe’s comments on men were observations rather than judgements. She doesn’t dislike men, but she doesn’t have terribly high expectations generally. She certainly loved and admired her father and likes several men very much as friends.

    I’m not sure why the author had Precious Ramotswe marry an abusive man, perhaps he wanted to highlight a situation that is all too common. I think that Precious as a very young woman was understandably drawn to the exotic (in terms of her experience) and dark character of Note. He was the unknown and exciting. But Precious also had the strength and self-respect to leave him. The more mature Mma Ramotswe would never make the same mistake.

  2. I have read The Graveyard Book in February, and tomorrow I have to give it back to the Book Bus (Library Bus), and I am afraid I have forgotten all the details that will be needed in the discussion… The book was finished before I even remember picking it up!

  3. That’s a good number of us who will have read The Graveyard Book. I look forward to a rousing discussion! I hope you’ll chime in, Ziggy.

    Harriet, I happen to know that Chrissie read the book ages ago, so you won’t be the only one who has forgotten details. We’ll remind you of some, don’t worry.

    At first, I thought the Note bit didn’t seem to fit, but after consideration, I changed my mind. As Becca says, men are expected to behave somewhat badly; it’s part of the culture. Growing up with this expectation, Precious probably accepted it. I know at that age I was not yet thinking entirely independently; people’s lives had a pattern, and I didn’t expect mine would be different.

    I can believe Precious married Note because he was so interesting to her and because that was the way life went: women married men even though they behaved badly. As Precious matured, she discovered her own mind and needs, and she had the strength and wherewithal to end the bad marriage.

    I can credit the marriage with helping to make her who she is: a self-respecting, independent woman, who isn’t afraid to shed the parts of her culture that don’t suit her. In that sense, it fits perfectly.

    I hadn’t thought about it, but Becca’s comment that Mma Ramotswe’s comments about men are observations not judgments rings true to me, too.

    Maybe. I’m waffling as I type. I think she does judge lying and cheating to be bad behavior, but maybe her judgments are tempered with understanding? Hmm. There’s definitely something gentle and accepting about her.