My Driver follows Vanessa Henman, an English author, who flies out to Uganda for an African Writer’s conference. Whilst there she seeks out Mary Tendo, a Ugandan who used to clean her London home. Mary now has a good job, but her son has gone missing and in the first of a string of coincidences Mary has recruited Vanessa’s ex-husband Trevor to build a well for her village.
This is my first Maggie Gee novel and I think I may have been disadvantaged by not reading My Cleaner first, as all the other reviews I’ve seen emphasise the role reversal which takes place from one novel to the next (in My Cleaner Vanessa is the dominant one, in her home country). I don’t think I missed out on understanding anything in the book, but think the symbolic importance of this sequel is one of its main positives.
The writing was rich and beautiful, the plot holding my attention and flowing smoothly. Unfortunately much of the novel seemed to rely on satire and gentle humor, which I do not enjoy.
All the usual African themes are here, including poverty and war, but life in Kampala is particularly well described. Perhaps because I have been to this city I found these sections especially vivid.
There were powerful events in this novel, but they were written in such a light way that their impact was reduced. I ended the book feeling as though I’d been taken on a pleasant journey, but nothing outstanding or unique had occurred and so I don’t think the experience will be very memorable.
Recommended to anyone you enjoys gentle, satirical humor.
Gee’s pen flows with knowing satiric glee… Lizzy’s Literary Life
Maggie Gee’s writing is superb and nearly flawless. Wing’s World Web
Have you read any of Maggie Gee’s books?