I have a vague recollection of reading this book, or at least starting it once before. No matter. For some reason, I expected not to like it, but since I promised to read down the pile of books on my living room floor, I committed to this one to start.
Mr. Malik, the story's protagonist, reminds me so much of Major Pettigrew in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. He is charming, witty, astute, classy, reserved...so very British. This isn't simply a love story, nor is it a treasure trove of information on unique ornithological sightings. Tucked neatly within the competition that pits Mr. Malik against Harry Khan for the right to invite Rose Mbitwa to the Hunt Club ball are tales of Kenyan people who thrive despite corruption, violence and poverty.
I especially enjoyed the narrator who interrupts the story form time to time and warns the reader that all may not be as it seems, or to share some tidbit about life in Nairobi. He (the narrator just sounds like a "he" to me) possesses a wicked sense of humor - again very British. I could just imagine him sharing one of his poshly clever lines, and then, smugly satisfied with his offering, chuckling to himself even if no one else caught the joke.
Atop the first page of each chapter you'll find a tiny line drawing of an African bird - gentle and whimsical like the novel itself. You don't have to like birds to enjoy this book. The cover compares it to The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I sure would like to see Mr., Malik and Smith's unpredictable Mma Ronotswe get together.
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