The Tears of the Giraffe is an amusing book by Alexander McCall Smith about the lives of two people who become engaged in Gaborone, Botswana. Mma Ramotswe, the founder of the No. 1 Ladies’
Detective Agency, agrees to marry Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the proprietor of the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. This is the second time he had proposed marriage to her and he does not believe his good fortune. He worries that she changed her mind during the night. When he calls her in the morning, they agree to meet for lunch at the President Hotel to celebrate their engagement.
Both Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and Mma Ramotswe are ethical people with deep roots in the traditional old fashioned Botswanan values and customs. For example, Mma Ramotswe becomes upset by people who shake hands without putting the free hand on the forearm or accept a gift with one hand instead of two. Both are kind and considerate people who appreciate each other and they both have a problem of being persuaded by people who they cannot say no to.
Mma Ramotswe is the only lady detective in Botswana. Her inability to say no to Mrs. Andrea Curtin results in her attempt to find out about the disappearance of Andrea’s son, Michael, ten years ago. She also becomes involved in uncovering the activities of her fiancee’s unscrupulous maid. Mma Ramotswe ends up promoting her secretary to the position of assistant private detective and investigating the philandering wife of the butcher, Mr. Badule, to see how she comes up with money to send their son to a private school.
In the middle of all this, her finance appears with two orphan children that he has been talked into accepting by the matron of the orphan farm. He wonders how he was persuaded to do this without consulting his fiancee, Mma Ramotswe. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni feels that he cannot go back on his promise to the children to provide a good home for them. Instead of being angry about his impulsive actions, Mma Ramotswe says that she is lucky to be marrying such a kind man. So a few days after their engagement, they become a family of four.
This delightful book reveals some insights into Botswana’s changing society where the youth are losing the traditional values of their culture like youth everywhere in the world. Both Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni adhere to the old fashioned values. The reader will find this easy to read book very refreshing and will enjoy the reading of the book and the situations that the characters seem to find themselves in.