Manly Pursuits : Cape Town, 1899. Cecil Rhodes, arch-imperialist and tycoon, believes he has only months to live, and that he can be saved only by hearing the sound of British birdsong on the slopes of Table Mountain. In response to a high-handed command from the bloated, overindulged 'Colossus' (as Rhodes is known to his adoring public), Professor Francis Wills, a reclusive Oxford don, arrives in Cape Town with two hundred songbirds - nightingales, chaffinches, blackbirds, robins and starlings - on the eve of the Anglo-Boer war. But the birds, confused by the change of season and hemisphere, refuse to sing. In Rhodes' gloomy, male-dominated estate, suffused with erotic undercurrents, Wills is drawn into intrigue - romantic, political and ornithological.