Tim's Reviews > Tears of the Giraffe

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
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's review
Dec 07, 2009

really liked it
Read in November, 2009

Smith's concerns and methods are more directly on display in this engaging novel than in some of his other Precious Ramotswe novels. He cares about Africa. He thinks that women may be or even must be the development engine and moral compass of the continent. He thinks that the life well lived is a moral life and vice-versa. Moral life as Smith portrays it involves posing moral questions and working out practical answers. Morality may be abstracted from the mundane matters of daily life. But it is in the details of daily life that moral principles may become moral authority as each of us engages with questions of how to live in company with each other and with the practical problems of living in society. In the worlds of Smith's novels - and by clear extension the world in which he writes and we read his novels - detection is a valued vocation. Smith's characters - both Precious and her Scottish counterpart Isabel Dalhousie, moral detectives both - ask themselves many hard questions. In what they do and how they live they seek to apply ethics in their own and others' lives. Perhaps this makes them nosy parkers, but perhaps it is their engagement in the interests of people, matters, and sometimes even principles beyond themselves that makes them characters with moral authority.

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