My Driver by Maggie Gee

My Driver My Driver by Maggie Gee

In this new novel of Maggie we meet Mary Tendo, of old, quite a character, from her last work, My Housekeeper. Mary was, then, the housekeeper of Vanessa, an English writer of middling success. Now, in this story she’s back in her own country, in Uganda. She’s still a housekeeper, but of a different kind, somewhat elevated, in fact. She works for an international hotel, and she has other housekeepers and maids under her.  

Throughout the book Mary and Vanessa play hide-and-seek in Uganda. Like a comedy they happen to be in the same place and time but they invariably misses each other. There is a very funny scene in which Vanessa, in Kampala for an international writers conference, actually spots Mary but could hardly recognise her. Mary has stopped by the road side, to buy fruits at a stall. As it happens, she is with none other than Vanessa’s ex-husband, Trevor. Trevor is a plumber in London, and he’s in Uganda to help Mary build or repair some machinery that brings water to a village. Vanessa, too, doesn’t recognise her ex; probably because of the contacts she wearing – vanity in her old age.

In this book, Vanessa hasn’t changed much: still thin, still disgruntled. When we quite liked Mary in the previous book, here, she’s turned into another Vanessa, but much heavier – and curvier – this time. Even Trevor nearly has a fall-out with her, when he couldn’t brook her attitude while driven to the village. We are seeing a whole new Mary, who screams at her child minder; she has a daughter. In the last book we learn her son Jamil was missing, probably kidnapped and forced to be a soldier. Here, we learn that he indeed was, later in the book, quite near the end. In fact the thread running through the narrative is hide-and-seek and happenstance. Happenstance, because things always dovetail neatly in the end, to resolve some issues. How does this happen? Telling you would spoil the ending.  

However what I can tell you is Maggie Gee’s writing is superb and nearly flawless. Take the scenes in which Mary is in Bwindi to see gorillas. Also, in the final chapters of the book you’d be able to see how she utilises some poetic elements during some intense moments. Her writing carries through the plot very effectively, so that you’ll laugh at the funny moments, be gripped by the suspense when she is nearly stranded in Bwindi during some heavy downpour, cheer when Trevor, like a movie hero, comes to the rescue, have your heart in your hand reading how they are going to get back to Kampala. An immensely good read. View all my reviews >>


Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.