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Under the African Sun cover

Under the African Sun by Gail Gilbride

Jennifer de Klerk

04/19/2017 15:22:30

Jennifer de Klerk: South African author Gail Gilbride has produced a fast-paced romance that is steeped in the sights, sounds and scents of Africa.

Specifically, this is South Africa in 1976, a time of brewing turmoil which is largely hidden from the young white students and liberals dancing on the edge of the abyss.

Deborah is young, smart, beautiful and very much in love. She relishes all that Cape Town has to offer, convivial evenings at the Pig pub with her friends with Bye Bye Miss American Pie on the radio, swimming at Clovelly, hiking up Constantia Nek, canoeing on the Berg River, the homely cottage in Rondebosch she shares with her friend Julia.

Gilbride writes with authenticity and a semi-autobiographical twang, vividly capturing the settings and experiences, from the clack, clack of the train from the Transvaal, to the fierce Highveld storms and purple jacaranda streets of Pretoria, to bluebottles on the beach, the smell of curry cooking and the moon above Lion’s Head.

All innocent Deborah wants to do is skate along the surface, live and love, but her job as an intern on a Cape Town newspaper exposes her to a grittier side of life, especially when she shadows Charlie, the political reporter. Gradually too, she learns that her beloved, idealised Chris is also involved in the political underground.

Along with the usual romantic insecurities … he loves me, he loves me not … Deborah has to contend with fear, both for herself and for Chris, especially when she realises her telephone is bugged and she is taken in for questioning by the security police. Such were the times.

Gilbride does an effective job of characterising Deborah through the painful process of growing up. Supporting characters, though, particularly the saintly Julia, remain in monochrome. Handsome and controlling Chris also only becomes three dimensional in the final chapters which take an unexpected twist, breaking the mould of what started as a rather cloying girly romance.

For those who remember how it was, this breathless novel is both entertaining and chilling, bringing back not only those heady times of love and friendship, when the future was open-ended and enticing, but also the confusion, fear, guilt and anger that churned underneath.

Under the African Sun by Gail Gilbride
Cactus Rain Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9962812-5-6

Inquiries: Caroline Konstant
084 8172 405

Jennifer de Klerk is editor of

Another “Way out” review!

Way out in India: Travels in a Curious Land by Meryl Urson was reviewed in the online magazine GET IT Lowveld.

Way out in India – Travels in a curious land

15 October 2015

Yogis and travel enthusiasts pay attention – you’ll love Meryl Urson’s travel encounters in India. This book is a record of her relationship with the world’s most fascinating country.

Way out in India cover 2015-12-07_16-13-26When Meryl Urson stepped off a plane for the first time into a steamy Mumbai midnight, little did she know that she’d begun a lengthy love affair with India. It would stretch across innumerable encounters and far into her future.

This book is a record of her relationship with the world’s most fascinating country. The reader is swept from the craziness of a revered guru’s southern headquarters to the turbulent peaks of the northern Himalayas, and through adventures as diverse as the discovery of a secret queen’s bath-house glittering behind a long-locked door, and the toppling of a Karl Marx statue in the middle of a Keralan Communist rally.

Way out in India is an idiosyncratic view of the diversity of life on the subcontinent through the enchanted eyes of an author in love with both place and people.

About Meryl

Meryl Urson is a South African yoga teacher and erstwhile teacher of high-school English. She has travelled extensively to many countries, mostly with her husband Arnie who is a passionate photographer. having practised and taught yoga for two decades, she is steeped in Indian culture in all its glory and diversity. She has visited the country several times.

Published by Porcupine Press, available from Bargain Books, I’langa Mall.