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The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales from Africa
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The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales from Africa

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,832 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and grew up hearing stories that so enchanted him, he passed them along to his own children. He now shares them in this jewel of a book.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 7th 2004 by Pantheon Books (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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 ·  1,832 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Friederike Knabe
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, african-lit
Those familiar with Precious Ramotswe can easily imagine her listening to the tales from this delightful collection. Relaxing after a day's work as No. 1 Ladies' Detective with a cup of bush tea, her mind might wander back to the stories of her childhood. Those new to McCall Smith's books will find in "The Girl Who Married a Lion" an excellent introduction into the gentle and caring world of Mma Ramotswe and her friends. The same warmth and affection that McCall Smith conveyed through his Botswa ...more
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge-2016
A really interesting collection of folk stories from Zimbabwe and Botswana. Animals play a prominent role in many of the stories, the strength and supremacy of the lion, the trickery of the hare etc are recurring themes. Deceit is shown time and again to be punished and virtue and morality rewarded. I particularly liked the tale " A Tree to Sing to". ...more
Book Concierge
This is a collection of fables, legends and myths from two countries in Africa – Zimbabwe and Botswana. These traditional stories share many characteristics with folk tales from neighboring regions. But while they may be a part of the oral literature of Southern Africa, the lessons taught are universal in that they explore emotions common to all humankind – greed, envy, pride, ambition, love, kindness, generosity.

Smith explains in the forward that he has done little more than record the stories
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
A collection of folktales from Botswana and Zimbabwe that have been collected by the author of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series.
I was disappointed. It would have been interesting to me to know which tales were from which of the countries but there is no mention anywhere. At the beginning there is a Letter from Mma Ramotswe and I'm struggling to know why Smith felt this should be included unless he was trying to play off the recognition of the series and the fact that some of the stories a
I loved, absolutely loved "Guinea Fowl Child".

These tales are collected from Zimbabwe and Botswana, and cover a wide range for types. There are trickster tales (mostly with a hare being the trickster), just so tales (why animals do this), and family tales. Anyone who is familiar with Joel Chandler Harris will recognize "Tremendously Clever Tricks are Played, but to Limited Effect". Hare in many of these tales is the forerunner of Brer Rabbit.

I'm not sure how this ties into the Ladies No1 agency
May 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
It feels a bit strange to give a rating to this book, because I am in no way an expert on folktales. I cannot comment on the presentation in comparison to other compilations of similar stories, nor on the scholarship which may or may not be present here. However, I can say with full confidence that I did not in anyway enjoy this experience, filled as it was with the virtues of taking revenge on those who have tricked you, or murdering or skinning alive your foes. As it is presented as a children ...more
Mickey June
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed these stories. They were well written and lend themselves well to being read aloud. That being said, I don't know anything about Zimbabwe or Botswana, so I have no clue if these are accurate representations of folktales from those places. But they are quite fun to read and the morals and revenge stories are akin to other fables, legends, and fairy tales I have read.

My favorite tales were "An Old Man Who Saved Some Ungrateful People," "Sister of Bones," and "The Sad Story of Tortoise a
Neelam Babul
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
A nice collection of folk tales from Africa. Africa is a continent that is very rich when it comes to folk tales and art. The book presents various folk tales with diverse characters and plots that you wouldn't come across anywhere else. Each folk tale is intriguing and has a lesson that one can learn. ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically an African version of the Panchatantra or Aesop's fables. ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting set of folk tales from Southern Africa.
Ann Keller
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Many of us have read Aesop’s Fables, which teach us about man’s foibles and morality, but I had never heard of many of these tales from Africa. These folk tales from Zimbabwe and Botswana are told by former law professor Alexander McCall Smith, a native of Zimbabwe, who now makes his home far to the north in Scotland. Africa maintains a rich tradition of oral literature and these stories are told with humor and spirit. Allow me to describe two of these tales to give the reader some idea of what ...more
3 Stars.
Read for UK Black History Month with GR group Reading for Pleasure.

TThese stories clearly have been passed down from generation to generation from time immemorial. The elements with the stories speak of a people's close connection to the Earth.
1. The narrators often remember fondly when humans and animals shared a language and lived more closely and sometimes worked together.
2. People were often concerned about having enough food, avoiding starvation due to crop or herds being ruined.
Alyssa Peters
Alyssa Peters
Traditional Literature

This book has many short stories in it. The stories originated in Africa and have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of the stories were neat to read, others were gruesome. One of the stories talked about a cheetah who tricked her friend the goat into going across the river. While she was gone, cheetah grabbed goat’s children and wrapped them up to cook later. Others had seen what cheetah had done. They distracted cheetah, and switched goat
Miss Susan
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Oh man I just want to mine this collection for future novels. Or to be more accurate I want someone else to mine this collection for novels and write them so I can read them. :D Sister of Bones? Children of Wax? Brave Hunter? The Wife Who Could Not Work? Head Tree? Guys where are my books based on these, I'm waiting. I'd include 'A Strange Creature Took The Place of a Girl' but it has enough similarities with The Goose Girl that I feel satisfied that I have in fact read this novel several times. ...more
I was under the misconception that this is a children book. It's actually an anthology of traditional stories from Mma Ramotwse's land, and if you like the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency this is a sweet addendum to your library. Moreover, I'm into fairytales and folklore.
In these short stories we meet animals and people whose adventures explain traditions, behaviours and the dos and donts of life in the south of Africa.
I'm always amazed at how such tales look alike all over the world. Here
Liked the simplicity of writing style and wordsmithing which supported the oral tradition of the African folktales.

Not all were positive stories - some having horrific outcomes when the story or ending was actually considered. Wide variety of topics covering hunting, gathering, family, marriage, relationships, death, life, weather, travel, animals vs people or animals in relationship with people. Definite insights into the African culture with settings and situations unusual to Western culture.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a collection of folk tales from Zimbabwe and Botswana. They were either told to him by local people when he lived in that part of the world or he came across them via a local friend who had collected and made translations of them into English. In his intro AM says he has kept to the original stories but has "added some descriptions of landscape and deepened the treatment of certain emotions" and that in doing so he hopes "to bring out the beauty and poetry of these stories." They make a ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
A collection of fables and folklore from Africa. Although there is mention that the neighboring countries where these stories originate share so much similarities there isn't much other description as to which ethical group was the actual contributor.

I didn't know or have ever read the series where Precious was a character so that part was a bit of a loss.

Otherwise the rest of the stories were quite refreshing while keeping the basic elements that make them a part of African lore. And two of
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
An interesting collection of African folk stories. I kept thinking that many of them ended rather abruptly, but then I wondered if "and they all lived happily ever after" really would add anything to the story. Hare is an asshole -- don't trust hare! That is the primary lesson I learned (and it was repeated on several occasions). Lion is a braggart, but not an awful person. And death is the punishment for almost everything. Be obedient to your parents and don't try to trick people or you'll get ...more
BJ Rose
Jan 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, fantasy
Interesting variety of folktales from Africa. I loved the "introduction" by Mma Romatswe from The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series - such a good series! ...more
I absolutely love fairy and folk tales, and love reading tales from other countries. Such an interesting collection of stories :) I certainly enjoyed some more than others, and thought some were rather... odd, but overall found this short collection to be a delightful treat. :)
Apr 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a collection of Folk Tales from Botswana. The audio book is short, only 4 discs and is read by three different narrators with African accents. Very fun!
Autumn V.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book, 'The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales from Africa', talks about the tales the author was told when he was younger, when he lived in what is now, known as Zimbabwe, Africa. The book takes place in Africa and has multiple characters (3-4) in each folk tale. I found this book in my English teachers library, what lured me to the book was the dull and boring book cover.

In the book it only and mainly talks about the folk tales the author was told when he was child living in Zimbabwe
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book I read was called The Girl Who Married A Lion and Other Tales from Africa by Alexander McCall Smith. I chose this book because when i was in the library picking out my independent reading book this book popped out because the title looked interesting and I decided to choose it. This book talks about many details what it would be like living in Africa and also while learning the African Culture. “A baby was soon to be born and if it was a boy, then it would be as brave as its father and ...more
SK Lim
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this book is a collection of many short stories, it does have a unifying story behind them.
This theme was clear throughout all areas of this book, in every story.
Each of these stories are clear with their message and this message tags along with you in your daily life.
One example is from the story "A Blind Man Catches a Bird" on page 69-72. This story has many themes of trust that is a great wake-up call of how we are living our lives.
Although this book was read for a school project
Donna Barnes
This is a book of short stories, all on animals relating to each other and to people. It personifies a lot of the animals, and we are told what they are thinking, and often that thinking gets them into trouble or out of trouble. I found a couple of them funny --- or they had ironic endings --- or had a really good lesson to teach. But others didn't go any where to me. I enjoyed listening to them --- the readers were very very effective (one was the woman who does all of the no. 1 ladies detectiv ...more
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The girl who married the Lion. A book that consists of Southern African folktales where animals depict the characteristics of humans. The book has numerous tails form mainly Zimbabwe and Mozambique on the view of the world and explanations that describe life and situations. A very well compiled book consisting of short stories by Smith. He is writing is a translation of the stories from the original language smith did a good job in maintain the story and did not lose it through translation. From ...more
Dartanyn Maddox
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love stories from all around the world, and this is surely a great example. The themes are often simple enough for a younger audience, while they are still very entertaining for people of any age. The stories can be quite strange in many parts, such as the first story, called "Guinea fowl child." However, some stories may even be a bit too violent for some children. Of course, that's entirely up to the individual.
The book is a fantastic collection of folktales from Zimbabwe and Botswana. It's
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I love Alexander McCall Smith and have read all of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series books. So I have been looking forward to reading this book for a while. I know that he did not actually write these stories, that they are a collection of folklore and fairytales from Africa that he has gathered. But hearing them in Mma Ramotswe's voice should be a delight. Right?

I enjoyed a lot of the stories. And then some of them made me stop and say, "Holy Sh*t. I thought European fairytales were dark..
Brianna Harmon
Quick read. A lot of familial folklore - on betrayal vs. trust, earned respect/bravery vs. birthright. I enjoyed the animal tales most, although some were abrupt endings. Pretty "on-the-surface" (and at times felt a tad generic) but enjoyable. I guess I was just hoping I'd really feel an African vibe. (Not sure that makes sense, but hey!) It was fun though - good for a day of curling up in my big chair with a cup of coffee. ...more
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Tales to live by? 1 14 Jan 29, 2009 08:11PM  

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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what ...more

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