Guide to the Birds of East Africa, A

Drayson, Nicholas

  18 Reviews

Every Tuesday, Rose Mbikwa is to be found leading the members of the East African Ornithological Society on their weekly walk. Mr Malik is a loyal member of the troupe and a secret admirer, (almost) ready to declare his suit. The arrival on the Nairobi scene of one Harry Khan forces the issue: in a contemporary twist on tournaments of yore, Mr Malik and Harry agree to an ornithological challenge. The prize? Asking Rose to the Asadi Club's annual ball.

In a charming juxtaposition, birds, politics, colonialism, AIDS, and the scourges of corruption come together to produce both an entertaining and informative read.

Comments from Groups

A light read but entertaining, and with lovely observations of Kenyan life. Nelson 020

A nice, light read. We found it an interesting book that provided a lovely insight into life in Kenya. Funny and well written. The perfect bedtime read. Hamilton 056

We all loved the book. Funny, touching and different. We empathised with the main character, and had a very enjoyable discussion. Waikanae 004

Voted best book of of the year by almost everyone. Thanks for a good choice. Highly recommended as a good antidote to "heavy" issues! Thames 004

This was a good choice to start the year's programme - we found the book a most enjoyable and delightful story. The short chapters helped in the narration, and divided up the detailed descriptions of birds which could have become tedious. There were several underlying themes - the subtlety in raising the issues of political corruption, the treatment of Aids etc gave the story a little more depth. The characters were well depicted, and the narration style did not detract from the story, we felt. A satisfactory ending with all loose ends resolved. Matamata 001

All of our group thoroughly enjoyed this book, in the vein of Alexander McCall Smith. A delightful read. Auckland 208

The book didn't quite live up to the blurb. One member had lived in Kenya for 20 years, and found it a bit silly... The group felt it was an enjoyable book with endearing characters, but not a must-read. Marton 001

Very entertaining and meatier than expected - excellent notes. Nelson 002

Everyone in our group loved this delightful story of middle-aged love in modern Kenya. The plot and writing are deceptively simple, but the story has many layers that provide a rich and satisfying read. Whitianga 002

An easy gentle read at first, but then you realised there was more to it. He wasn't just a dull ordinary man, but had a lot of substance to him. Kindness and integrity are real values. The story reminded some of us of the hare and the tortoise - slow and steady wins the race. The author was also clever at making us aware of issues like HIV/Aids. Katikati 002

We all liked it very much. Some of us liked the narration style and some didn't. We enjoyed the humour, but wondered a bit whether a white Englishman can write about Indians in Africa with authenticity. Hokitika 002

What an absolutely delightful read. A gentle read as well. The entire group just loved it. Mr Malik is a shrewd, compassionate man; and the pictures for each chapter were just lovely. Winton 001

A delightful read with great insight into expat community life. Marvellous bird knowledge and a very colourful tale. The book notes were the best ever. Christchurch 064

Some of us found it a little cute-sy, but everyone seemed to enjoy it as a nice, light read. It did provoke quite a bit of discussion, especially about the characters and the way women and characters of different backgrounds were portrayed. Wellington 197

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this story. It kept you guessing right to the end. Beautifully and tastefully written. Delightful story-line. Hastings 006



CHCH 312
This was an easy read. It was an enjoyable story which had some depth in places. Bird watching made interesting!
WELL 206
We all enjoyed this charming book. A light, humorous, character driven love story that also delved into heavier topics around Kenyan politics and colonialism. A lovely start to our year.
CHCH 194
A lovely, gentle read with an old fashioned simplicity. The setting added another dimension to the discussion. Enjoyable and light.
NELS 083
A charming read which fuelled one of our reader's interest in birds. Gentle and old fashioned. Genteel. A mallowpuff of a book (sweet, light and fluffy).
Universal enjoyment of this book, and a very good evening of discussion. Writing style was compared to 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' books. The birds were merely a conduit to a sweet story which also reflected the era and political climate.
Most of us loved this book - it is a charming story with a happy ending. The characters were all engaging, even Harry Khan whose behaviour was not admirable. The narrator's outsider view of Kenya and Kenyan problems was also interesting.
AUCK 247
A sweet book with a happy ending.
TAUR 035
A most enjoyable read. A deceptively simple book, but with deep insights into human behaviour. We also found we learnt a lot about life in that part of Africa and about the birds. A very well-written book which nearly all of the group really enjoyed.
A book we ALL enjoyed once we got into it. Liked all the references to birds. A good read.
AUCK 105
A whimsical easy read that amused us greatly.
AUCK 389
Delightful book. Filled with humour, intrigue and information on birds.
Everyone enjoyed this book - liked the characters and found it funny and warm hearted. Two members born in Kenya contributed to the discussion.
This book was chosen as a holiday read as it promised to echo Alexander McCall Smith and Major Pettigrew. It met those expectations. We had a good discussion about the impact and remnants of colonialism. Many of us found the birds gave the story focus, structure and depth. It was good hearing from group members who had either lived in or travelled in east Africa. They felt it was a very authentic story.
NELS 023
Everyone enjoyed this little book - it was an easy read but had depth to it at the same time. Those members with experience of living in Africa felt it was an authentic portrayal of life in Kenya.
CHCH 176
One of the most enjoyable books we've read this year.
We all enjoyed this book and its happy ending - very satisfying!
HAST 006
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this story. It kept you guessing right to the end. Beautifully and tastefully written. Delightful storyline.
Loved the book. Delightful characters - easy read.