Tears of the Giraffe

Tears of the Giraffe

ISBN: 9781400031351
Publisher: Anchor Books (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: first published 03 September 2002 by Anchor Books (Penguin Random House)
The second book in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

 

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has become a huge success in Botswana, and its lead detective Precious Ramotswe is gaining quite the reputation.

Among her cases are wayward wives and unscrupulous maids, plus the added excitement of Mma Ramotswe’s own impending marriage to that most gentlemanly of men, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. Soon business is so good that her talented secretary Grace Makutsi (a graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College, with a mark of 97 per cent) is promoted to the dizzying heights of Assistant Detective. And then the arrival of two new members to the Matekoni family make life in Gaborone very interesting indeed.

Reviews

“Perfect escapist fiction”
The Times
“McCall Smith’s satire is as gentle as a warm bath”
The Sydney Morning Herald
“Smart and sassy … [with] the power to amuse or shock or touch the heart, sometimes all at once”
Los Angeles Times

Excerpt

He telephoned shortly before seven. Mma Ramotswe seemed pleased to hear from him and asked him, as was polite in the Setswana language, whether he had slept well. “I slept very well,” said Mr J. L. B. Matekoni. “I dreamed all the night about that clever and beautiful woman who has agreed to marry me.” He paused. If she was going to announce a change of mind, then this was…

He telephoned shortly before seven. Mma Ramotswe seemed pleased to hear from him and asked him, as was polite in the Setswana language, whether he had slept well. “I slept very well,” said Mr J. L. B. Matekoni. “I dreamed all the night about that clever and beautiful woman who has agreed to marry me.”

He paused. If she was going to announce a change of mind, then this was the time that she might be expected to do it.

Mma Ramotswe laughed. “I never remember what I dream,” she said. “But if I did, then I am sure that I would remember dreaming about that first-class mechanic who is going to be my husband one day.”

Mr J. L. B. Matekoni smiled with relief. She had not thought better of it, and they were still engaged.

“Today we must go to the President Hotel for lunch,” he said. “We shall have to celebrate this important matter.”

Mma Ramotswe agreed. She would be ready at twelve o’clock and afterwards, if it was convenient, perhaps he would allow her to visit his house to see what it was like. There would be two houses now, and they would have to choose one. Her house on Zebra Drive had many good qualities, but it was rather close to the centre of town and there was a case for being farther away. His house, near the old airfield, had a larger yard and was undoubtedly quieter, but was not far from the prison and was there not an overgrown graveyard nearby? That was a major factor; if she were alone in the house at night for any reason, it would not do to be too close to a graveyard. Not that Mma Ramotswe was superstitious; her theology was conventional and had little room for unquiet spirits and the like, and yet, and yet ...

In Mma Ramotswe’s view there was God, Modimo, who lived in the sky, more or less directly above Africa. God was extremely understanding, particularly of people like herself, but to break his rules, as so many people did with complete disregard, was to invite retribution. When they died, good people, such as Mma Ramotswe’s father, Obed Ramotswe, were undoubtedly welcomed by God. The fate of the others was unclear, but they were sent to some terrible place—perhaps a bit like Nigeria, she thought—and when they acknowledged their wrongdoing they would be forgiven.

God had been kind to her, thought Mma Ramotswe. He had given her a happy childhood, even if her mother had been taken from her when she was a baby. She had been looked after by her father and her kind cousin and they had taught her what it was to give love—love which she had in turn given, over those few precious days, to her tiny baby. When the child’s battle for life had ended, she had briefly wondered why God had done this to her, but in time she had understood. Now his kindness to her was manifest again, this time in the appearance of Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, a good, kind man. God had sent her a husband.