Sunday, 29 April 2012

Book Reviews ~

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Its enlightening, funny and addictive reading. After reading Funnily Enough it was nice to see what the author did next. Brilliant read!!!  Sara Maughan ~ Hampshire, UK

Just a pleasure to read  
Thank you Sophie for sharing your delightful letters and wonderful insights into South Africa. I loved the pictures, although they were a bit hard to see on my tiny kindle screen. I think you have a beautiful family, funny, smart, compassionate and loving. Your horses are marvelous and your style of writing is gripping. I couldn't put my kindle down! ~  Vivienne

African Odessy 
We're really enjoying this. Since just before the Book Fair I've been reading this aloud to my daughter on my Android colour Kindle app. She is schooled at home, and wildlife facts and anecdotes are some of her favourite things. It also contains the political history recorded as it happened, from possibly the time of the greatest late 20th Century upheavals occurring in Southern Africa.

The colour illustrations are great - if you only have a b/w Kindle, download the Kindle app for your PC as well, and you can retrieve the book from your archived items to see them in colour.

We love the humour, it follows on really well from the first memoir 'Funnily Enough' - comments about 'alien invader species' and what it's like trying to sleep outdoors on a groundsheet next to a flatulent horse meant I had to keep stopping reading while my daughter rolled around laughing and making sound effects. Great stuff :)

As this one is written in the form of letters, not a diary as the first book is, and is in the genre of Travel this time rather than Christian reading, the subject of God retires gently to arm's length here, but what you do get is more of the wonderful endearing sibling exchanges and comedy pratfalls being recounted back and forth between Sophie and her friends and family in the UK. Sophie even has a visit from a BBC wildlife crew she has arranged to help find rhino, who are annoyingly elusive that day, and is harangued on the phone by a young TV executive who wants 'wild leopards, at dawn, in a tree, eating antelope'. Worth every pixel ~ Lisa Scullard, UK 
An extraordinary, funny, enchanting, book that will surprise the reader - a delicious soufflé of reading pleasure.

Sophie writes of her adventures in Africa. After a busy life in television, and recovering from debilitating illness in England, she determines on a radical change and moves from a chilly, damp British winter to the blistering heat of Southern Africa. And there she can no longer be an invalid. She plunges into the hectic life of horseback safari camps, driving trucks through rivers and desert, cooking, handling horses, killing snakes, organising the tourists and supervising the always characterful local labour. With her we meet fascinating, heart-breaking, funny, and sometimes infuriating characters. And the animals: thrilling, or entertaining encounters with elephants, aardvarks, crocodiles, antelopes, lions, leopards, hyenas, hippopotamus and rhinoceros, and a panoply of other exciting wildlife.

But the core of this wonderfully entertaining book is Sophie's correspondence with her wonderful family; Granny, Mummy and Dad, her three sisters and a bevy of children, friends, and other relations who create a web of hilarious anecdotes. Anecdotes and other adventures in love, life, dogs, cats, rabbits, donkeys, otters, and babies.

Sophie is as delicious an artist as she is a writer. The book is packed with wonderful sketches and watercolours that make these stories spring to life. A minor criticism would be that the exigencies of Kindle eBook publishing results in all the illustrations being very small. Happily I soon discovered that a little finger work can zoom to larger images, and every single one is worth expanding.

Such a light-hearted story is also pervaded by a keen awareness of reality. The struggles of a African post-Apartheid society, the deadly spread of Aids, the chaos after civil war, the problems of life for a British army wife . . . and just bringing up all those kids. These stories contain all the contradictions of life itself, but are told with such heart-warming honesty, humour and humanity.

I must admit to a personal interest in Sophie. In 1973 I produced the feature film of Arthur Ransome's SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS. One of my childhood stars was a delightful twelve-year-old Sophie. This book suggests that she grew up to be a most special woman.

A delightful book. Strongly recommended to bring a real ray of sunshine into your life. ~ Richard Pilbrow ~ Connecticut

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