Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review - Tears of the giraffe

Book Review - Tears of the Giraffe

Alexander Mccal Smith’s series of books, the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, are the greatest hits in the world of “keep-it-simple” literature, recently. Any of the book wanderers, happening to have an instant touch with these books, would be yielded to them without any air of denial. Africa is belittled in front of all worldly eyes owing to its image of a skinny child waited to be preyed upon by a vulture or the price of blood being spilt on its soil daily. As showing the other side of coin, Alexander has succeeded in showing us the gracious life in Africa, Botswana in particular. In near future, I would be proud to mention to my daughter that her father was one among the malgudi-days-watchers in his childhood. The spell that R K Narayan casted on his readers with his stories narrated in a picturesque and beautiful Indian village, which would have one School and one Post Office as the entire amenities. Alexander reminds me of R K Narayan with his words in more than one occasion.

Tears of the Giraffe - is the second novel in this series. Here I pen down a brief review of this book or rather I would rephrase as the review of characters, dearsome to my heart.

Mma Precious Ramotswe:

The novels revolve around Precious Ramotswe, a wise, fat and sweet lady, who is running the one and only ladies detective agency in Botswana. There is no wonder that the author has evolved this character out of a remarkable Botswana lady, who was found giving, chickens to the people in Gaborone. This lead character would start looking like your elder sister or a cousin, whose presence near you would be warmth to your soul. I would rather see her as a perfect role model for any woman for her generosity, valor, intelligence, kindness and ideology, save her portly body. The major factor that secludes these novels out of same genre of crime is that there are no punishments for the culprits. They would be made to regret at some instance of their life whilst Mma Ramotswe drives them to confess the truth.

In Tears of the Giraffe, Ramotswe is handed over with a peculiar case of finding a missing American boy in the bushes of Kalahari. The crest of the case is that the boy is missing since a decade. Mma Ramotswe scrutinizes the case from an unpredictable nook and solves the case with her acumen. In this case, she would have handled the tool of “black-mail” deftly to entrap the culprit behind the disappearance of American boy.

To add, Mma Ramotswe sincerely rely on "The Principles of Private Detection" by Clovis Andersen, for taking any critical decisions.

Mma Grace Makutsi:

Mma Makutsi, an academic achiever with 97% marks in Botswana Secratarial college and Mma Ramotswe’s Secretary, would make the best bush tea in the whole of Botswana. Although she possesses the background of poverty, she has not opted to venture into the profession of housemaids, which is the prevalent occupation of all poor Botswanese ladies. In this book, she gets promoted as Assistant Detective and directly awarded with the case of probing the faith of a house wife. The agency is approached by a sad husband, who doubts about the chastity of his wife. The first case of Mma Makutsi, not only expected her to detect but also required her judgment on humane reasons. She perfectly deals with the case.

She shares the common curiosity with Mma Ramotswe towards crime detection and Bush tea.

Rra JLB Maketoni:

This character is personified as an ideal Botswana man, who believes in hard work and punctuality. Rra Maketoni runs Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, who has great affinity for cars and Mma Ramotswe. This kind hearted man adopts two orphans, a crippled girl and her brother. He extends to repair the old pump and bus engine of the local orphanage, which is a sole harbinger of his virtue and kindness and the character of this in him has driven Mma Ramotswe to give her consent of marrying him.

Apart from all the main characters, the author keeps the same momentum with all supporting characters like,

Mma Silvia Potokwane - the gracious old lady running the orphanage, who is always proud of the cakes baked by the orphanage girls

Rra Obed Ramotswe - the deceased father of Mma Ramotswe, who has worked in the mines of South Africa and the kind-hearted man.

Motholeli - the courageous and crippled girl, who dared to save her baby brother from being buried to death as part of customs of Bushmen. She would be adopted by Rra Maketoni

Maid for Rra Maketoni - a vicious lady who has intense malice over Mma Ramotswe and the tidiness of Rra Maketoni's house.

Apprentices of Rra Maketoni - the indolent, immature boys who lack that "fire-in-the-belly" attitude

As a whole, Tears of the Giraffe, like other books in this series, narrates the native Botswana culture, with a native smell of African soil and a picture of acacia trees, in a more enjoyable way to the readers.

(Image Courtesy : Google Images)

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