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Book Review: How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith

How to Raise an Elephant was in the new books area of the local library. It was published in 2020. The following (22nd) instalment was published in September 2021.

Cover of the paperback edition of How to Raise an Elephant

As I am part way through at least three nonfiction books How to Raise an Elephant was light relief. I didn’t feel any pressure to read it quickly. This recent addition to The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series fulfilled my expectations. It was calming, entertaining, surprising and wise. The setting of Botswana was used to explore the themes of climate change and sustainability in a different context from more ‘developed’ countries. This added to the interest of the story, raising viewpoints of people, who have missed out on many things taken for granted in the West.

Although I hadn’t read the book(s) immediately before this one in the series, it was easy to follow the story. This is the 14th book by Alexander McCall Smith I have reviewed on Sue’s Trifles. My links to these reviews may be found here.

Three works of fiction

On my first visit to the public library for months I was in a hurry and grabbed two books. It was only when I arrived home that I realised one was a large print edition. My ageing eyes did not complain!

Cover of Mum & Dad. Text over vine leaves and stalks

The book was Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope. The Mum and Dad in the title are the grandparents. There are three other mums and dads and their teenage children in the family. A change in circumstances for Mum and Dad leads to all sorts of unexpected consequences for all the generations.

It is a sensitively written book, which I enjoyed. It is also available in hardback, paperback and Kindle editions.

The next two books I read were both by Alexander McCall Smith, borrowed from the library on different days. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones is in the 44 Scotland Street series with characters such as 6-year-old Bertie and his friends as well as adults of various ages. There is a wedding, an eventful honeymoon and plenty more to keep the pages turning. There are illustrations too.

Cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. Hot-air balloon, banner with title and a street with houses with 4 storeys.

Your Inner Hedgehog by Alexander McCall Smith is in a newer series – A Professor Dr Igelfeld Adventure. I haven’t read the two earlier books, but that was no disadvantage in reading Your Inner Hedgehog, which was published this year (2021). I found a hardback copy when I returned the previous books. The chapters are numbered in German with delightful illustrations by Iain McIntosh. Some unexpected events arise from the office politics in a German University and when foreign academics visit Oxford University. Romance philology (the study of words of a related group of languages rather than romantic words!) and discussions about grammar make a change from the settings (in Edinburgh and Botswana) of three earlier series by Alexander McCall Smith, which I have dipped into. I learned that der Igel is a hedgehog and Igelfeld in English would be ‘hedgehog field’, in case you are wondering about the title. The genre is literary fiction: it is not as light a read as most other books I have read by Alexander McCall Smith.

Photo of hardback copy of Your inner Hedgehog. The illustration includes a headgehog, a mortar board (graduate headwear) and a building with a tower.
Photo of Your Inner Hedgehog

Your Inner Hedgehog is currently available as a hardback or CD-audio. The paperback edition may be pre-ordered.

What I read in August 2020 (Part 4)

This post includes two book reviews.
The Testaments coverOn my first visit to the library since lockdown I returned the first two books I reviewed here  and borrowed two more books. (I was wearing the mask I wrote about here.)

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood is a prize-winning novel published in 2019. The hardback edition has its own ribbon bookmark. Although the content is disturbing I found it fascinating. I had not realised that it was written as a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, which I have not yet read. The unusual structure of the novel (narrated by three different women – a hologram and two witnesses) is not explained until the end.

The Bertie Project cover

The Bertie Project by Alexander McCall Smith is from the Scotland Street series. I borrowed it as light relief from the other book. It made me laugh out loud. My loyal readers will be aware that I enjoy reading books by Alexander McCall Smith. My other reviews of his books, which I have read may be found here.

For an index to all the books I have reviewed online please click here.