Book cover of The Saturday Big Tent Wedding PartyWe’ve been dealing with a few health issues lately (everything seems OK now), and so I’ve slacked off blogging. However, yesterday, as I retired to my bathtub with the newest installment of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Novel, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party,

I realized reading this book is like taking a reading vacation.

Perhaps that’s the point of novels, or at least novels like this.

As most of my regular readers know, memoir is my metier and I therefore usually read memoir. But for all that I love real stories, memoir tends to be heavy material, with a few exceptions that I have happily embraced, like My Family and Other Animals, or 84, Charing Cross Road.

Memoirs are my first love, but mysteries are my second.

I love the comfort of a series that is not too gritty nor too violent, yet poignantly explores the challenges and tragedies of life. The world is fixed in the end, even with a few losses.

Sometimes I just need someone like Hercule Poirot to put the world in order.

There is particular comfort in that. I have a full collection of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stories. Of course I own all the Sherlock Holmes stories, which really are my first love in books. My husband laughs at me because I can reread them a million times, but a) I love those characters and their worlds, and b) I tend to forget the outcome. Plus the outcome isn’t really the point, hanging out with those characters is.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series has a similar allure. I’ve read all installments over the past few years. Each time, indulging in the latest is like hooking up with old friends and a familiar landscape.

In fact, it has had me seriously contemplating a trip to Botswana. The main character, Mma Ramotswe, has gotten me into drinking red tea.

I love getting to know a place through a story.

When I visited London for the first time, many years ago, I had to stop by 221b Baker Street, even though I knew Sherlock Holmes’ actual address does not exist. A cheesy museum does exist, however.

Cheesiness aside, the predictability of a series with lovable yet highly individual characters is like a comfy armchair,

For summer, the sunny dry climate of Botswana is just the right escape. I shall return to the English countryside or the streets of London when the weather turns greyer here, but for now, I’m following Mma Ramotswe down the dusty roads of Botswana.