I loved this book The main protagonist, Mr Malik is simply adorable He is a man of unusual integrity living in a city filled with corruption He is an older man in love with a woman who has no idea of the secrets that lie behind an unassuming facade The story unfolds over the course of a few weeks and the reader, chapter by chapter, becomes privy to these surprising depths Mr Malik is an extremely private person and not even his closest drinking buddies at the club, nor the bird watching kindred spirit he chats with every week, have any idea of the burning passions and personal demons that lie beneath the surface I was enchanted by this book and if I hadn t been so distracted by other things, I would have easily wanted to read it in one sitting A really lovely way to pass an afternoon. Favorite quote There is a distressing but not uncommon condition of presidents and other world leaders known as Worrying about Africa It is usually picked up overseas as at summit meeting on world poverty or disease, and symptoms include painful twinges of guilt over the discrepancy between First and Third World wealth, uncomfortable feelings somewhere below the stomach that perhaps unfettered capitalism is not the benevolent force for good we are constantly assured it is, and frequent attacks of calling for Something to Be Done The best remedy is invariably a stiff dose of domestic crisis. WOWEE I had never expected I would love his book I half expected I wouldn t even like it very much But instead it was a tour de force, with all the elements of a great story unrequited love, a protagonist who s brave and sweet hearted and true behind his shyness, an appropriately dastardly villain whom you just want to smack in the face, a race to the finish line, and a good subplot to move things along Seriously, I was floored FLOORED And no bloodshed or sexual activity for conservative types to object to though one of the characters has a homosexual son The use of capitals in this interview should be enough of an indication I feel like I ve just drunk a gallon of chocolate milk. NO SPOILERS In conclusion The ending is cute, but with this final note I haven t given anything away It is how you get from A to Z that is important A perfect comfort read, if that is what you are looking for Please see below for detailed information AFTER 80% What I like about GR is that we help each other find books that will fit our own interests No matter how much effort I put into studying a book before I choose it, each book is always a bit of a surprise This one too Please look at the shelves I have put this on fauna, humorous, kenya and relationships Yes, those are the central themes You do learn a bit about Kenyan life and history, but what is given is minimal Much is related to expat life in Kenya, and quite honestly this isn t my highest interests, but there are native Kenyans too and Iheir presence in the book is a saving point for me It is humorous and a light, quick read It helps if you are interested in learning about birds Does the following bore you or interest you Kenyan crested guineafowl are shy and wary birds They stick to one patch of forest, where they know every twig and track It is next to impossible to creep up on one to shoot or grab it But they possess great curiosity, and nothing incites their curiosity than the colour blue I have never seen this for myself but I am assured by my friend Kennedy that he has watched a Kenyan crested guineafowl staring at an empty pack of Clear Sky cigarettes for minutes at a time Should you want to trap one of these birds, therefore, the best bait to use is not grain or fruit or anything that the bird might eat, but simply something blue80% I assume thisinformation is correct But what is important is for you to judge if this is interesting or not One thing this is not much about the antics of bird walkers This book is about how one properly conducts a contest That can be amusing too And about how people can tackle a contest so very differently Winning is important, but but how we win is too I haven t read than 9%, and I don t really want to be talking to you I would rather be reading It is just that the lines are so funny I am smiling on most every page This is the kind of tongue in cheek humor I enjoy Mr Mali, is currently in Scotland First his wife dies and his head is rapidly balding and to top it all off he has a heart attack So his daughter gets him an appointment with a cardiologist, and what does the cardiologist sayYou need a hobby Something to take your mind off work it s stress that does it you see The eminent cardiologist savoured the word Up until only last year he would have said overdoing it and he still wasn t sure whether that phrase was a bit Harley Street, but everyone seemed to use stress these days and it was good practice to keep up with modern develpments Patients expected itIs your appreciation of humor similar to mine The doctor suggests birding, and with fright Malik thinks he means he has to get a new wife or revitalize himself through prophylactic prostitution No,the doctor is suggesting ornithology So Malik buys himself some binoculars BEFORE STARTING My son is an ornithologist I have been on numerous bird walks These walks are quite amusing if you step back and look at yourself and the group Tongue in cheek humor A fun read probably because you remember past experiences Are these excurions so different if they take place in Nairobi or Sweden It is not the birds, but we humans who are amusing. Years ago I struggled to find books my mother would like They needed to be devoid of anything that smacked of worldly immorality just about anything I was reading in the 70s and 80s Simply put, she was narrow I was broad She appreciated good writing But somehow this made it even harder I wish I had discovered this then Not only is the book squeaky clean, there s a clean feeling to his storytelling It s like laundry flapping behind your neighbor as she tells you the latest news around town Mr Malik asked his taxi driver to wait in the car park He wasn t planning to go far just find a bench, sit down and think He pushed open the green gate, turned left at the big sequoia and headed towards a grove of lemon scented gums And blow me down if he didn t see, on the path right in front of him, a hoopoe The synopsis Two old childhood adversaries, wishing to ask the same woman to an annual ball, agree to a one week bird sighting contest I expected information on birds and less on the country of Kenya So my disappointment was balanced out with pleasant surprise I also was surprised by and appreciated that Mr Malik and Mr Kahn were brown of East Indian descent The book dwelt in the well off ex pat culture and presented a conflicting picture of contemporary Kenyans crime ridden, ineffectual government, the possibility of a good schools But what will hang with me will be cheerful lilt of the story As the adorable Mr Malik stumbles upon heart wrenching misadventures and the suave Mr Kahn wheedles himself into a fine position until the very end, the reader believes that everything will end happily because there is nothing like birdsong to lift one s spirits, to give one hope Even the lowing of the mourning dove makes me smile Perfect, perfect little summer porch read. An absolutely delightful about a man in love, the honorable, sweet, stubborn Mr Malik of Nairobi It will appeal to Alexander McCall Smith fans, but definitely stands on its own and will beguile any reader who appreciates sharp wit and gentle charm. Reserved, Honourable Mr Malik You Wouldn T Notice Him In A Nairobi Street Except, Perhaps, To Comment On His Carefully Sculpted Comb Over But Beneath His Unprepossessing Exterior Lie A Warm Heart And A Secret Passion Not Even His Friends At The Asadi Club Know It, But Mr Malik Is Head Over Heels In Love With The Leader Of The Tuesday Morning Bird Walk Of The East African Ornithological Society, Rose Mbikwa While Mr Malik Hesitantly Plans How He Will Ask Rose To The Annual Hunt Ball, Flashy Harry Kahn Arrives In Town And Makes It Clear That He Too Has Rose In His Sights When Mr Malik Blurts Out His Feelings At The Club A Wager Is Set Whoever Sees The Most Birds In A Week Will Ask Rose To The Ball With Boats, Planes And Guides To Get Him To The Choicest Birdwatching Spots In Kenya, Harry Kahn S Soon Noting Down Everything From Pearl Breasted Swallows To Spur Winged Plovers But Mr Malik S Not So Easily Beaten, And With Unorthodox Methods And Far Flung Adventures Of His Own, He S Determined To Stay In The GamePlaying Time Hours Minutes I love the little pen ink drawings of birds, with their names shown, that are at the start of every chapter The chapters are extremely short, and this should have been an incredibly quick read, but for some reason it took me some time to slog through, even though I enjoyed it, and as the story went on, it grew on me and , though I wasn t perturbed when I had to put it down.It s a gentle and slow little story, and I could have done without the fact that the ball in question is at the hunt club it starts off quiet and simple and innocent but quietly yet surely gets slightly complicated, though it never loses its gentleness There definitely ended up being some layers, some darkness in what seemed to be at first a simple lighthearted story, but overall it remained sweet.I m not sure about this narrator Those who have read the book Who is the narrator Whoever narrates the book, the voice is personable and easy to read I loved the locales and got a kick out of where and why and how some of the birds were found I really enjoyed how the storyline and characters evolved.I reveled in the wickedly funny little asides, and the witticisms are not at all limited to observations about birds and birdwatchers, not at all I wanted to add some quotes but there are just too many and I couldn t decide which ones to include.Great ending In a way, I could rate this 5 stars or 3, so I ll settle for 4, 4 actually. Jeannette told me it s funny and heartwarming a love story about birds and Kenya and she was right A Guide to the Birds of East Africa seems at first a charming but slight book, even a silly one.The plot has speedy twists and turns than a black mamba but it s much friendlier I loved the protagonist, Mr Malik a truly good and gentle man and all the supporting cast were wonderfully alive and drawn with affectionate humor I grew particularly fond of the lawyer who loved to drop Latin legal phrases into every conversation Every time I found myself thinking Oh, come now at one preposterous plot twist, I would turn the page and find myself smiling and than once laughing out loud.In between laughs I learned quite a lot about Kenyan politics, its unchecked crime, stubbornly persistent poverty, and the varied ethnic groups that call this land home At the center of the story is a community of Indians, the descendants of men who were brought to East Africa to build the railway, came to love the land, and stayed to prosper Many send their children to Britain to be educated and have adopted British mannerisms, including a great fondness for sporting bets and spending long hours at the club By the halfway mark, Mr Malik and his friends had completely won my heart and I was cheering for him to win the birding contest and the fair lady We hear too much about the terrible things in Africa and elsewhere this is a book about how good and kind people can make their way in a less than perfect world and bring each other comfort, good cheer and even a measure of joy Perhaps not such a silly book after all Content rating G.And by the way.Did I mention all the beautiful birds A spectacled weaver bird spotted by a real birder at Nairobi s National Museum, where our story opens.A footnote for nature fans and bird watchers Why Kenya and birds Kenya stretches from the sea level Indian Ocean in the east, to 5,199 meters at the peak of the snow capped Mount Kenya From the coast, the altitude changes gradually through the coastal belt and plains below 152 metres above sea level , the dry intermediate low belt to what is known as the Kenya Highlands over 900 metres above sea level The Great Rift Valley bisects the Kenya Highlands into east and west Mount Kenya is on the eastern side The Highlands are cool and agriculturally rich Both large and small holder farming is carried out in the highlands With such varied habitats, Kenya is a birding paradise with over 1,000 species recorded and Nairobi, at the eastern edge of the Rift Valley, has an astonishing number of birding hot spots, despite its dense urban development Here s a blog post from an avid birder of experiences bird watching in Nairobi September read for my Around the World challenge. It took me forever to finally pluck this one down from the shelf but what a delight it was, plus lots and lots of bird chatter, mixed in with romance and humor An ideal palate cleanser.
Nicholas Drayson has written extensively about wildlife and natural history and is the author of the novels Confessing a Murder, which was hailed by Booklist for its view of Darwin never before seen , Love and the Platypus and A Guide to the Beasts of East Africa An Englishman by birth, Drayson has worked as a journalist in the UK, Kenya and Australia, writing for publications such as the Daily
- Audio CD
- A Guide to the Birds of East Africa
- Nicholas Drayson
- 15 May 2017 Nicholas Drayson