Another Winner from Sophie Neville!

  • Book: Ride the Wings of Morning
  • Location: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)
  • Author: Sophie Neville

Review Author: DavidButters



Having just finished Sophie Neville’s ‘Funnily Enough’, a book I found both hilarious and uplifting, I started this sequel with high hopes. I am very pleased to say this is a worthy successor and does the former book proud. Whereas ‘Funnily Enough’ was based on the 10 month diary Ms. Neville kept whilst at home suffering from M.E. ‘Ride the Wings of Morning’ is a collection of letters (albeit edited) between Sophie and (mainly) her sisters, Perry and Tamzin.
Ms. Neville arrived in South Africa in March 1992, just as the referendum on ending apartheid was being held. Her stay lasted a total of twelve years (of which seven are covered by this book) and she witnessed, therefore, the last days of white rule and the presidency of Nelson Mandela; also, the HIV/AIDS pandemic was still in full flow – truly historic times. The book relates the life Sophie led in the Waterburg, North Transvaal as a horse safari guide, cook and general helper, painter and supply deliverer to a mission base in Mozambique. Along the way we meet a fascinating array of ex-pats, holidaymakers and locals; and as well as horses, dogs and elephants we encounter snakes, rhinos and daylight robbers.
The characterisations and incidents are drawn with the same flair and incisive observation as in ‘Funnily Enough’ and, as with that book I again found myself laughing out loud several times. Many of the stories in the letters are simply hilarious, and that goes for the letters from her sisters as well; I particularly enjoyed the description of a braai (a South African barbecue) and the wonderful account of a nativity play staged at Vaalwater. We also hear about her sisters’ tussle with New Age Travellers, life in various military quarters, her mother’s phantom burglar and a very nasty encounter with viral pneumonia.
It’s pleasing to see that during this spell in South Africa Sophie Neville’s health seems quickly to have returned to normal. As with the earlier book there are some serious moments (not least the bout of viral pneumonia) but these are always handled with sensitivity and are never allowed to dampen the reader’s spirits for too long.
This book is beautifully written with lovely illustrations by the author. The beautiful drawings, sketches, cartoons and incredibly detailed maps enhance the written story and justify the acquisition of the book on their own. Once again Sophie Neville has produced a work that is a joy to read and I know I shall be revisiting ‘Ride the Wings of Morning’ (and its prequel ‘Funnily Enough’) again and again.

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