Excerpt from Tears of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Tears of The Giraffe

by Alexander McCall Smith

Tears of The Giraffe
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Sep 2001, 208 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"This is a very fine room," observed Mma Ramotswe.

Mr J.L.B. Matekoni beamed with pleasure. "I try to keep this room tidy," he said. "It is important to have a special room for important visitors."

"Do you have any important visitors?" asked Mma Ramotswe.

Mr J.L.B. Matekoni frowned. "There have been none so far," he said. "But it is always possible."

"Yes," agreed Mma Ramotswe. "One never knows."

She looked over her shoulder, towards a door that led into the rest of the house.

"The other rooms are that way?" she asked politely.

Mr J.L.B. Matekoni nodded. "That is the not-so-tidy part of the house," he said. "Perhaps we should look at it some other time."

Mma Ramotswe shook her head and Mr J.L.B. Matekoni realised that there was no escape. This was part and parcel of marriage, he assumed; there could be no secrets — everything had to be laid bare.

"This way," he said tentatively, opening the door. "Really, I must get a better maid. She is not doing her job at all well."

Mma Ramotswe followed him down the corridor. The first door that they reached was half open, and she stopped at the doorway and peered in. The room, which had obviously once been a bedroom, had its floors covered with newspapers, laid out as if they were a carpet. In the middle of the floor sat an engine, its cylinders exposed, while around it on the floor there were littered the parts that had been taken from the engine.

"That is a very special engine," said Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, looking at her anxiously. "There is no other engine like it in Botswana. One day I shall finish fixing it."

They moved on. The next room was a bathroom, which was clean enough, thought Mma Ramotswe, even if rather stark and neglected. On the edge of the bath, balanced on an old white face-cloth, was a large bar of carbolic soap. Apart from that, there was nothing.

"Carbolic soap is very healthy soap," said Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. "I have always used it."

Mma Ramotswe nodded. She favoured palm-oil soap, which was good for the complexion, but she understood that men liked something more bracing. It was a bleak bathroom, she thought, but at least it was clean.

Of the remaining rooms, only one was habitable, the dining room, which had a table in the middle and a solitary chair. Its floor, however, was dirty, with piles of dust under the furniture and in each corner. Whoever was meant to be cleaning this room had clearly not swept it for months. What did she do, this maid? Did she stand at the gate and talk to her friends, as they tended to do if not watched closely? It was clear to Mma Ramotswe that the maid was taking gross advantage of Mr J.L.B. Matekoni and relying on his good nature to keep her job.

The other rooms, although they contained beds, were cluttered with boxes stuffed with spark plugs, windscreen-wiper blades, and other curious mechanical pieces. And as for the kitchen, this, although clean, was again virtually bare, containing only two pots, several white enamelled plates, and a small cutlery tray.

"This maid is meant to cook for me," said Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. "She makes a meal each day, but it is always the same. All that I have to eat is maizemeal and stew. Sometimes she cooks me pumpkin, but not very often. And yet she always seems to need lots of money for kitchen supplies."

"She is a very lazy woman," said Mma Ramotswe. "She should be ashamed of herself. If all women in Botswana were like that, our men would have died out a long time ago."

Mr J.L.B. Matekoni smiled. His maid had held him in thrall for years, and he had never had the courage to stand up to her. But now perhaps she had met her match in Mma Ramotswe, and she would soon be looking for somebody else to neglect.

Excerpted from Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith. Copyright © 2000 by Alexander McCall Smith. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bones of Grace
    The Bones of Grace
    by Tahmima Anam
    The Bones of Grace completes Tahmima Anam's Bangladesh trilogy. The three novels, which can be ...
  • Book Jacket
    Find Me Unafraid
    by Kennedy Odede, Jessica Posner
    With staggering emotional weight and keen awareness of love and humanity even in the darkest places,...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.