The Double Comfort Safari Club – Review

Alexander McCall Smith. The Double Comfort Safari Club. New York: Pantheon, 2010. Print. No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Another joyful novel about Botswana’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Mma Ramotswe has a few new challenges. A rich American lady who had a great experience on a Botswana safari left a small legacy to her guide except that she could not remember either the name of the guide or the name of the camp. A woman suspects her husband, a well-known radio reverend, of unfaithfulness. And Assistant Detective Makutsi is kept from seeing her fiancé Phuti Rhadaphuti by Phuti’s No. 1 Aunty.

Another challenge for Mma Ramotswe comes from a man who was engaged. The couple bought a house they were going to move into when they married, but the woman convinced the man that to protect his business assets they put the house in her name alone. As soon as he did that, she broke the engagement and kicked him out of the house. Precious Ramotswe does not know if her client can overcome the legalities, but she promises to look into it. Even before the man has finished his story, she accurately guesses the name of the conniving woman: none other than the beautiful but heartless Violet Sephoto.

Once gain, Smith’s novel is highlighted by simple joy. Life is for living and loving. We foolish mortals are the ones who mess it up. A few quotations from The Double Comfort Safari Club:

The realisation of our mortality came slowly, in dribs and drabs, until we bleakly acknowledged that everything was on loan to us for a short time—the world, our possessions, the people we knew and loved. But we could not spend our time dwelling on our mortality; we still had to behave as if the worst would not happen, for otherwise we would not do very much, we would be defeated and give up. (56)

Nobody ran away from their responsibilities any more—they were said to have gone off to find themselves. Nobody dismissed anybody from their job any more—they let them go. What if they said, “But I do not want to go!” The only reply would be, “But I’m still going to let you.”

When Mma Romotswe and Mma Makutsi go to Maun in northern Botswana near the Okavango River Delta to find the safari guide meant for the legacy, they have to travel as if they, too, were on safari. We discover that Grace Makutsi, though from a small town, is a city girl at heart. Their guide’s chatter about hippos and crocodiles does not reassure her at all. Precious understands that there is no such thing as a Double Comfort Safari Club.

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