Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birds of a Feather

The Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson
F DRA Main
Reviewed by Jeanne

For years, Mr. Malik has gone to the meeting of the birdwatchers group, dutifully noting the various species of birds. For years, too, he has longed to get up the courage to ask Rose, the group leader and guide, out on a date. This year, the quiet widower has made up his mind: he will ask her to the most important social occasion in Nairobi, the Hunt Club Ball. Just as he is ready to make his move, his childhood rival drives up in his flashy car, wearing his expensive clothes, smiling that white toothed smile and in general being everything Mr. Malik is not. Naturally, the suave and sophisticated Harry Khan decides that he will ask Rose to the Ball. Thus begins a competition, a gentleman’s agreement: whoever spots the largest number of bird species in one week’s time will earn the right to escort the lady to the dance.

Fans of Alexander McCall-Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency should also enjoy this gentle, romantic tale seasoned with humor and a very British sense of social standing and proper behavior. Characters wrestle with very human dilemmas, with temptation and with honor, but most of all, with love and longing. They also hold some surprising secrets, which gives the book depth. You don’t have to know anything about birds (or East Africa, for that matter) to enjoy delightful novel!

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