Under the African Sun is, in my opinion, not a conventional love story.  It is a “life” story that vividly transports one to the desperate struggle against prejudice in South Africa in the 1970’s.  When I took up the book to read it, I could not put it down.  I read it from cover to cover in one sitting, caught up in a whirlwind of action and raw emotion.

I believe that the book is a ‘must read’ for all South Africans, young and old.  It is a reminder to all of us that South Africans of all races were part of the struggle against apartheid and the consequences thereof.  As the author mentions, the book is fictional, but based on real-life events.  The unfolding of the events in the book draws the reader into an emotional, real-life journey, intensely portraying how the main character’s life is enriched by her love for the activist, yet severely traumatised by her association with him due to political oppression.

Jimmy James, to whom author Gail Gilbride has dedicated her book, spent more than thirty years in a wheel chair after his accident in 1978 –  a gentle spirit whose participation in the struggle against the Apartheid regime was based on his sense of justice and righteousness towards all races and cultures.  Although confined to a wheelchair, Jimmy never lost the twinkle in his eye and did not harbour any regret or bitterness for his own suffering as a result of his participation in the struggle.

The James family is honoured that Gail has dedicated her book to Jimmy.   I believe that those who read it will come away from the pages with a much deeper understanding of our South African struggle and the fact that people of different racial backgrounds were prepared to put their lives on the line for a cause that transcends racial barriers.  The book does not only give insight into part of the history of South Africa, but it is a global message that should touch the hearts of people across the world.  It is proof that unity of heart and vision does not have to depend on ethnicity, which is, after all, the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ just before He gave His life for mankind, (“Father make them one…” John 17:21).

A highly recommended read!


Michael Stewart’s review of Under The African Sun

I’ve just finished reading Under the African Sun, a thoroughly authentic step back into 1970’s South Africa and an immersion into the intrigue, music, slang and idealism of an era when the ideological    ‘Struggle’ against Apartheid was reaching a crescendo. A seamless blend of political fact and romantic fiction, this is an enthralling read and an insight into a polarizing period that was a catalyst for change in a turbulent country whose uncertain future will be defined by yet more activism.

Michael Stewart – an Exile

What readers are saying about
“Under the African Sun” by Gail Gilbride

 Jennifer De Klerk

A delightful historical romance set in turbulent South Africa in the mid-1970s, Under the African Sun tells a deeply personal tale of love, heart-break, friendship and coming-of-age. It accentuates the fact that, regardless of what is happening in the world around us, we (particularly as young adults) are largely shaped by who we love and how we are loved in return. Navigating her way in her first job after graduating from university while also dreaming of marriage, Deborah Morley is compelled to face some of apartheid’s most dreadful enforcers because of her boyfriend, Chris Jarvis’s activist undertakings. Then, increasingly unsure about her career as a trainee news reporter, plagued by feelings of uncertainty about her relationship and perpetually worried about her boyfriend’s safety, Deborah leans on her friends for support – despite their disapproval of Chris. Gail Gilbride tells Deborah’s story with skill and sensitivity. Under the African Sun is a charming, sincere and convincing story with an ending that demands a sequel.

Penny de Vos – PMH Publications cc   

Under the African Sun is a tale about that desperate time just after university when career choices are made intertwined with mating matters – love, desire, work, all jostle for time and space. Gail Gilbride’s new novel puts the puzzle pieces of a young graduate’s love life into a swirl of emotion and choice, set on South Africa’s 1970s stage with the grim backdrop of apartheid’s security police looming. Fresh, entertaining, emotional and enjoyable, this old-fashioned love story with a twist is a delight to read.
Peter Sullivan, former Editor of The Johannesburg Star.   

In her story of love in a time of turmoil, Gail Gilbride has captured the fear, the excitement, the danger of a country on the brink. Through a young woman’s coming of age, she documents also that of a society.
Dr Jo-Anne Richards, mentor at
Her latest novel is “The Imagined Child.”

Gail Gilbride’s Under the African Sun asks whether love can survive the turmoil and ideological confusion of South Africa’s political liberation. The answers it provides are both provocative and inspiring.
Richard Beynon, mentor at

A hauntingly beautiful love story set against difficult times in South Africa. I carry it with me in my heart.
Marie-Anne Ogle, Communication Skills lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

A love story like this definitely needs to be shared.
Deborah is a character I think so many people can relate to. It’s great that in the story she accepts herself the way she is – starts writing what she wants to write – and becomes stronger. And that throughout those years of turmoil she retains her kindness and follows her heart. Though life dealt her and Chris a terrible blow, at the end the reader feels like both of them know they had something very special and will be okay. What I have got from your story is a reminder that love is such a gift.
Gillian Gilbride, First class flight attendant and part-time recruiter at Etihad airlines.

Gail Gilbride’s debut novel, Under the African Sun, set in South Africa during the apartheid era, is a richly observed tale of love, heartbreak and personal and political turmoil, delivered with poignancy and a touch of humor. Readers will want to turn the pages to find out how the characters deal with and rise above the conflicts that threaten their happiness and their futures in a country torn by racial discord. Deftly written, heartfelt, and engaging, this charming book will appeal particularly to lovers of romance and historical fiction.

Lynette Brasfield, author, Nature Lessons: A Novel, St. Martin’s Press, NY, 2003, which was selected as a 2003 BookSense pick by the Independent Bookstores of America and winner of NAMI’s 2003 Outstanding Literature Award.

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