The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974)

‘Delightful!’ – David Wood OBE, award winnning playwright

Sophie Neville and David Wood OBE appearing on CBBCTV
Sophie Neville and David Wood appearing on CBBCTV

‘The fun that was had, the friendships forged, the challenges overcome, are all delightfully recalled with a freshness and sense of adventure’- Virginia McKenna, OBE 

Sophie Neville with Virginia McKenna in about 2000
Sophie Neville with Virginia McKenna in about 2001

‘A delightful book’ – The Lady

‘Sophie’s magical Swallows tales… a heart-warming account of making the movie’ – Daily Mail

‘A fascinating insight into filming on location in the Lake District’- Classic Boat

The Lutterworth Press liked this review – which they posted here – and this well-considered review on the Waterstones site

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“You have a very beautiful light that shines in your writings.” Erin Thomas, USA

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“‘You’ve refreshed the soul, the hearts of the saints,’ And indeed you have – in I don’t know how many ways.” Gabrielle Balke, USA  “…your books have brought great delight to me and my little household!  I look forward to diving into your literary life, where I can touch base with my imaginative self again. ”

A librarian sent this letter of appreciation from a reader:


The award-winning writer Wendy H Jones asked if she could review two books for the online magazine she edits, Mom’s Favourite Reads:

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The author David Banning wrote a wonderful review, which you can see here

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‘An extremely brilliant revelation’ – Sophia Anyanwu


‘a very unusual book…’David Elms while in the Dominican Republic

David Elms reading and reviewing Sophie’s books on Kobo

‘My daughter has just absolutely hoovered up your wonderful book…. a rainy day, so we’re watching the film and she’d filling us in on behind the scenes facts! Thanks for writing it… it’s such a joy to read.’

Fan of The Making of 'Swallows and Amazons'

‘One of the best reads I have had for many a year!’-  Christopher Clarke

David Butters reading 'Funnily Enough'
David Butters has reviewed the 2nd edition of ‘Funnily Enough’

The Making of Swallows and Amazons

‘Such a wonderful book. We loved reading it together. The perfect Christmas present for all Swallows and Amazons!’ –Miranda Gore Brown, author


‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’… was such a joy to read. It’s amazing that with the help of your diary you have constructed such a splendid record of those halcyon days.–  Eddy Mc Donnell, Australia

Louise Thomas' photo of 'The Making of Swallows and Amazons'

A fitting second edition of ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974)’ by award-winning author Sophie Neville has just been published by The Lutterworth Press. The glossy, re-packaged book boasts a new filmography along with even more memorable diary extracts and insights into the cast and crew’s life behind the scenes. After being cast as Able-seaman Titty Walker in director Claude Whatham’s adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book, it was Sophie’s mother who encouraged her to record what has now become ‘a little bit of film history.’ Originally made available as an ebook, it first came out in paperback (published by Classic TV Press) to coincide with the 40th Anniversary Special Edition re-mastered DVD and Blu-ray of the movie distributed by StudioCanal in August 2014. A couple of years later plans for an updated version started to gather pace after a number of new stories began floating to the surface. Reading the book had stirred her mother’s memory along with many people she’d never met, who wrote to her with amusing anecdotes. These included names for the credits such as John Foster the ‘snake wrangler’ from Cumbria – the man who provided a live adder. David BanningReading The Making of Swallows and Amazons

‘This uplifting memoir tells us how a schoolgirl’s life was transformed by unexpectedly starring in a major film adaptation of the world famous classic tale by Arthur Ransome.’-  Anne Gaelan

Prize winner with her copy of 'The Making of Swallows and Amazons'

Reviews of The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974) have appeared in Cumbria Magazine and The Westmorland Gazette

Funnily Enough

‘I have actually laughed out loud and that hasn’t happened for quite a time!’ David Butters – August 2020

‘Funnily Enough’ is often given as a gift or used as a Book club read.

review of Funnily Enough

‘What a wonderful easy read and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough for the next installment, I loved it! Her original and amazing paintings of various situations she found herself in add huge value to this fabulous book. Please read it!’  – Rose Alcock , South Africa.

‘I read Funnily Enough while convalescing from concussion (which took months). It was a tonic! Your mother is esp a character. Also I belong to a creativity group where many members have ME so v interested in people’s recovery stories.’ –

I thoroughly enjoyed Sophie Neville’s account of her time struggling with Chronic Fatigue.  The pictures both physical and mental of her family and friends bring them to life – in fact larger than life. I have gone on to read “Ride The Wings of Morning” (The next stage of Sophie’s life “set” in Africa) and am reading it slowly, as I enjoy it so much I don’t want it to end. My teenage daughter has also enjoyed both books, showing that Sophie’s writing appeals to all ages. –  Chris Holmes ~ London

‘Funnily Enough’ had me hooked on Sophie’s books.

This is a very unusual book, in that it tells the author’s story of good and hard times in her life with complete honesty, and also talks about ‘church’ without having to apologise or explain. Reading it at a time when I was feeling a bit low was the tonic I needed (can you buy a ‘tonic’ these days? I was often given one as a child, but they don’t seem to exist now, apart form in book form!)
I went on to read Sophie’s African book, which was even more hilarious, and discovered what an amazing artist she is, as well as an extremely good writer.
‘The secrets of filming Swallows and Amazons’ is only available on Kindle, but I’ve just read that. Anyone with an interest in film, Arthur Ransome, sailing, outdoor activities, or just wants a good laugh must read it, and please can we have it in print form asap?’-  Winifred Wilson, Dumfries

This is certainly different from most Christian books and all the better for it! The sub-title for the whole story – and for each of us who are saved – might just be that wonderful little phrase you put in, ‘ My best [drawings] are actually rectified disasters.’ So it is for life itself! – Jonathan, Bedfordshire

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Rubery Book Award Judges Comment

‘A relative was trying to cope with M.E., and, having seen this reviewed in our local newspaper, I sent him a copy. He said it was such a joy to read – amusing and, at the same time, reassuring & helpful. Would recommend this to anyone having to cope with a similar situation. 5 out of 5 stars Wonderful!’ Patricia Olsen

‘I really would recommend Sophie Neville‘s book to anyone living with a chronic condition, or with those suffering from one, or anyone at all. I read it 2 years ago and laughed and laughed while having my Infliximab treatment for Behcet’s. I know that Coleen Dulledge enjoyed it during Rituximab too and Ali Marston read it too (I think). This is a great read.’- Zoe Behcets,  Cambridge

Sophie Neville , your book is hysterical!  Love the diary so far.  Don’t know how it ends, obviously, but hope you are doing better.  Myalgic Encephalomyelitis isn’t for the feint of heart, is it?’- Jan Masleid

‘Am thinking of reading this book in snippets to my Year 10 Pastoral care class. I love it…  it is a great bibliocounseling book for getting through a dark, hard path.’- Jane van der Westhuizen, Perth, Australia

‘I read this last year and thoroughly enjoyed it – I thought it delivered everything it promised on the cover. Great illustrations too (although my early version Kindle probably doesn’t do them justice!).’ Kevin Burn

‘I’ve just downloaded the 2nd book to keep me going in the post-chemo recovery phase for my autoimmune vasculitis.’ – Zoe (Christchurch, Cambridge)

‘Sophie, I just finished reading your book, “Funnily Enough”, having read it non-stop, which I haven’t done with a book for decades. Having had a similar experience, I could identify so totally with the Spiritual struggle, although I’ve quite forgotten about the physical pain I experienced. Life is good.’ – Cynthia Elnora Ashby

‘Fantastically funny but with a serious side in Sophie’s recovery from ME.  Very uplifting and so pleased to find her finding light at the end of the tunnel in her recovery and more importantly leading to the sequel….!!  Lovely illustrations, 5* too!’- Julie Cullimore 

‘A brilliant and often funny insight into the author’s struggle with ME. I am a great fan of Swallows and Amazons. I hooked into the links and found the touching and witty Funnily Enough. I wanted to read this book because of its honest insights, based on faith,trust and determination. The author’s anecdotal day-to-day dealings with life in general and ME in particular are addressed with humour. Sophie’s story mirrors the battle a friend of mine has with ME. I lent this book to my friend. Her feedback was that Funnily Enough made her laugh and has given her a degree of solace and reassurance. She has also passed on the links to another friend with ME. *****’- Cherry

small figure sitting

‘I have read “Funnily Enough” with much enjoyment. It is clear that you have travelled quite a journey through some very dark valleys before emerging into the sunlight again. As was said of John Keats, you have a ‘strong sense of what really exists and  occurs’. I also came away with an amplified understanding and fascination of your family ~ great!  I now  look forward with keen anticipation to reading “Ride the Wings of Morning”.’ – Christopher Davies, Dedham

Ride the Wings of Morning

‘In the early 1990s, Sophie Neville went out to South Africa to work for a horse-safari company in the Northern Transvaal, in an area called the Waterberg. Most tourists to Africa see the wildlife from the back of a minibus with a raised roof. Riding out into the bush to see wild animals close up sounds much more ‘… – Alexander Lucie-Smith, the Church Times

‘Took “Ride the Wings of the Morning” to a 3hr hospital visit for an infusion last week. Your hilarious letters almost endangered my IV.’  –

‘Just finished this book… I have been impressed, entertained, enlightened and taken on a hugely fun journey of which I have loved every minute….What a girl!’-   Susie Airy, Cotswolds

I laughed and cried with Sophie as she recounted her African adventures and the exploits of her friends and family back in the UK and abroad. Sophie paints fantastic pictures of the African landscape and wildlife, sometimes she resorts to using water-colour and brush rather than words. In each case she brings them both to life in full colour. A highly recommended read! – Chris Holmes, UK

As a keen rider and lover of South Africa, I found this book a joy. It is written as a collection of letters between three sisters. Leaving the constraints and climate of England to help her friend set up a horse safari business in the Waterberg region of South Africa, the author discovers a liberating world of sunlight, wilderness and wildlife. As a willing volunteer, she is expected to cook, make-do and mend, as well as take guests out riding to encounter local wildlife. Life is full of bizarre adventures, dangers and comedy in equal measure. The book is beautifully illustrated with the author’s own sketches, watercolours and maps on almost every page, enhancing the stories and bringing the writing to life. This is a lovely book full of gentle humour and wry observation of the people and situations she encounters.’-  Liz F, Yorkshire‘I just finished reading word # 3,846 of “Ride the Wings of Morning” and this is so beautiful that it could and should be a major series on TV! I’m at word # 4497: just finished reading your Grandmother’s letter to you and cannot bear the thought of this not being filmed!!! It will rival Downton Abbey and you have Africa, too!!! I can SEE this experience leaping from these pages. Actually it’s Cloud Reader, but you get the picture.’-  Cynthia Elnora Ashby , USA ‘I enjoyed the book in many ways – but found it a little strange.  Despite that I found it hard to put down.’ Sue

‘Ride the Wings of Morning is a fascinating and enjoyable read for anyone who has lived in Africa or intends to visit. Sophie Neville has accurately captured everyday raw life in the ‘outback’ and the challenging excursions on horseback into the bush perfectly.  The narrative is driven comfortably and cleverly by real-time life letters but it is the story between the lines that teases the reader who may well envisage being in the same situation.  The observations and comments on the Afrikaners clearly reminded of experiences in Rhodesia and then Zimbabwe – on first meeting Afrikaners they are like a kernel of a nut but once mutual respect has been fostered they expose very soft centres. I particularly enjoyed the illustrations as they carried you along with the real life story encouraging the reader to seek what can happen next.

This is an entirely charming and delightful book. Sophie Neville has done it again. This book contains the letters home she wrote to her family in England whilst she lived in Africa. She describes her life in Africa so vividly you can smell it! She also includes her paintings from that time. They bring another dimension entirely to the book. They bring depth and colour to her already thoughtful and insightful writing. It is a cheerful, funny and informative book. However, she also explores deeper themes but weaves these lightly into a life affirming account of a young woman taking her place in the world, a very extraordinary world!’ – Lisa McGinnis US

Line drawing of Hippo by Sophie Neville

This review is from: Ride the Wings of Morning (Kindle Edition)

‘As a South African living outside of SA at the moment I am really enjoying this book, recognising places Sophie writes about. Sophie Neville and her family have a great sense of humour, and the letters going back and forth between them often have me laughing out loud. The art throughout this book is fantastic.’- Tammy Visagie (Belgium), November 1, 2012

3 Guniea fowl

26th January ~ A ‘5 of the best’ recommendation on an America Kindle website

20th January ~ ‘I am glued to your book of letters – absolutely loving it!’ – Jessie Craft, North Wales

17th January ~ ‘Lizzy has already downloaded Funnily Enough and Ride the Wings of Morning, and is half way through the latter already – Ihaven’t had a peep out of her for ages except the odd guffaw!’

6th January ~ ‘I have downloaded Ride the Wings of Morning on to my Kindle & really enjoyed it. Such a refreshing story & I love the style of writing which is so readable.’-  Sara, Hampshire

30th December ~ I laughed so much it was a real tonic! – Juliet Maddan, Yorkshire

12th November ~ ‘What a fabulous read…’ – Jane Dawson

‘I’ve never read a book twice – but I just had to read this book twice. It made me laugh – laugh until my stomach hurt.’ – Dr Bill Frankland, the allergist who first encountered ME at St Mary’s Hospital and The Royal Free in 1940
19th September ~ Chris Warne’s review of ‘Ride the Wings of Morning’ in the Stroud News and Journal
The Stroud News & Journal
Church Times Book Review, June 15th 2012 - on Funnily Enough by Sophie Neville
A recent review of ‘Funnily Enough’ in the print edition of The Church Times
Westmorland Gazette review of Funnily Enough by Sophie Neville
From the Westmorland Gazette – May 2012
Recent e-mail and Facebook comments on Ride the Wings of Morning
24th January ~ ‘Your illustrations are hugely impressive.’ – Maria Toth – Premier Radio
15th December ~ “Just finished ‘Ride the Wings of Morning’. I absolutely loved it and laughed a lot.”- Juliet Maddan,Tenerrif.
11th December ~ “I have read & enjoyed Sophie’s books, and really love her beautiful drawings!” Elizabeth Rondthaler-Jolley, USA, spontaneously recommending the books on her Facebook page.
‘I’ve finished both books now and absolutely loved them.’ – Rose Alcock, Eastern Cape, South Africa
‘I’ve just finished ‘Ride the Wings of Morning’ and enjoyed every page – especially your illustrations. It has been a pleasure going to bed each night living and breathing Africa… You’ve had some extraordinary adventures & live to tell the tales. And you have given them back to us – your readers. I loved the warmth shown between you and your sisters and your remarkable family… Your books are amusing too. I laughed out loud so many times (not often one does that these days). We’ve just had our village Book Group meeting (monthly) and I’ve recommended both your books.’- Jenny Black, Gloucestershire
‘I have been reading your book and loving it.  What a rich life you have led. I’m so glad it is all recorded!’-  Juliet Calcott, Limpopo Province, South Africa
‘…the illustrations are a lot of fun.  What a wonderful commendation on the volume you got from Virginia McKenna.  You obviously have a gift of writing in a very entertaining and charming manner.  Thank you and well done. ‘- Michael Cassidy, African Enterprise, South Africa
‘Have enjoyed both books and look forward to more… keep writing’  Jane Edgar, Channel Islands 
silhouette of girl riding a horse on a riding safari by Sophie Neville
‘Have just started “Ride the Wings of Morning” & really enjoying it!’ –Penelope Bossom, Gloucestershire
‘I was reading the first chapters of the Kindle to my daughter last night before she went to bed. She laughed so much, and loved the pictures in colour. Hopefully it’ll encourage her to continue reading in the paperback.’ –  Lisa Scullard, UK
‘It’s lovely, so tempting to put all else aside and get lost in your descriptions. It must have been such a joy to put the book together. Such rich memories, and I love your way of seeing things and the words you use. You are a truly gifted writer and illustrator and I rejoice with you. I think my girls will get more out of this one, especially since it’s letters between sisters.‘ – Wendy Chandler, South Africa
I LOVED this book! Even more than ‘Funnily Enough’, which I also loved! Your family is a hoot, and your letters tell so much about your life. What fun that you found a place that allows to be well, and that you have met such wonderful people in the process 🙂  … Thank-you, Sophie & Amazon! I am so excited to have another of your books on my Kindle.  :-)” – Elizabeth Rondthaler Jolley, USA
‘Lovely work Sophie & Many Congratulations :))’  – Rahul Perekh, India
‘…extraordinary, unique, inspiring, real –  I don’t know how else to describe what I have just read’ – Annie Ogilvy, South Africa
‘This is gorgeous work Sophie, you have a real gift for drawing people into your wonderful adventure in a real and intimate way. I feel almost as if I had been there with you. 🙂 Great work! ‘- Skye Wieland, Queensland, Australia
‘I’m going to try ordering ‘Ride the Wings’ through my local bookstore later this afternoon…can’t wait to read it.’ – David Canuck, British Columbia, Canada

‘I am reading your book now on Kindle about your time in Africa and I love it! What a sense of humor you and your family have!’ – Allen Hunt

‘I couldn’t resist looking at Wings of Morning this afternoon.  I love the way you write to your sisters and the close and easy style you all use with one another.   It’s all very readable, funny and sweet.’ –Lucy Woodd, Scotland
‘I  am mid way through your book at the moment and every time I start to read am transported to S. Africa, where I’ve never been.’-  Sarah Hollis
‘What a beautiful title.’- Chronic Fatigue Support
‘Love Sophie’s book…’ –Jane van der Westhuizen, Perth, Australia
‘I love how you’ve captured your journey with sketches and water colour paintings.’
Black Rhino by Sophie Neville
‘I am  loving your book. Your mother sounds like a riot! Love the mama donkey work!’ –Kate Coleridge
‘Have enjoyed both books and look forward to more… keep writing.’  – Jane Edgar, Channel Islands
 “I had a hard time setting your book down–such a good read! And I was really disappointed when it ended :-)”
‘I’m also enjoying “Wings” – too much – I’m failing to get my next OU essay done …’ Paul Fernandez  ‘…lovely book. My wife is making her way through “Funnily Enough” at the moment and I’ve little doubt will move on to “Wings”. We also have some ex-pat readerly South Africans in the church, to whom I’ve recommended the books ….’
Elephant writing paper by Sophie Neville
 ‘This is gorgeous work Sophie, you have a real gift for drawing people into your wonderful adventure in a real and intimate way. I feel almost as if I had been there with you. 🙂 Great work!’- Skye Wieland, Australia
 ‘I think the letters approach brings the personal story to life.’ – Hugh Colley
‘….your book works so well at the moment because the format you’ve chosen simply takes life as it comes.’ – Paul Fernandez
 ‘I must have this book!!’ –Topsy Eschenburg, South Africa
 ‘By hook or by crook we will find a copy.’  – Douglas A Groves, Botswana
In the African tradition, Jenny Nash from Zimbabwe has written about Ride the Wings of Morning in her Blog ~ Shamwari Chaidzo
 Three guniea fowl by Sophie Neville
Kindle Reviews:
Adventures in Africa April 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase  5.0 out of 5 stars
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.
Oryx in Namibia by Sophie Neville
African Odessy,23 April 2012
By Lisa Scullard (U.K.)
Amazon Verified Purchase- book rated 5 stars
This review is from: Ride the Wings of Morning (Kindle Edition)

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 🙂 xxx

'Ride the Wings of Morning'

Just a pleasure to read,  April 27, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase, book rated 5 stars
This review is from: Ride the Wings of Morning (Kindle Edition)

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 marvellous, and your style of writing is gripping. I couldn’t put my kindle down! I will certainly be reading more of your work. Thank you!

Ride the Wings of Morning

Ride the wings of morning, 27 April 2012
by sara maughan – book rated 5 stars
This review is from: Ride the Wings of Morning (Kindle Edition)

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!!!

I just finished Funnily Enough the other day and wow what a fantastic read! Thank you very much for some very enjoyable hours of reading! It made me smile (quite the cast of characters!)…i laughed out loud more than a few times. I loved the humour & the drawings! Wish I had half your talent! Hope you’re much much better these days though? I’ve yet to order Ride the Wings of Morning but will be doing so very soon!  – David Canuck, British Columbia, Canada

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!!!
I am LOVING this book! A great read!!!! Funny as promised, interesting and encouraging. Well written and I love the illustrations. Very enjoyable. – JK

A very personal account of a year long fight to overcome the physical and mental debilitation of ME,  lightened by the amusingly told anecdotes of enduring this suffering amidst the goings on of an extended and somewhat eccentric family. Sophie seems to have tried conventional medicine, psychiatry, acupuncture, aromatherapy, faith healing and not least, demanding of the Creator that he answers the question, ‘Why me?’ Perhaps a little of each helped in what was for Sophie a life changing experience, with a happy ending. It is an absorbing tale nicely told JPG, Lymington 18:7:12

5.0 out of 5 stars! Fabulous observations of everyday life! This is a testament to true faith. Funnily Enough should be read by M.E. suffers as well as those lucky enough not to have had the condition. An inspiration! – Sarah Howell

12th June ~ ‘…it was compulsive reading – very ‘thought-provoking and funny’. I laughed out loud many times …As I was nearing the end of your book I was longing for you to go to Africa as I knew the climate would cure you. And you did.’ –Jenny Black, a member of a Book Group in Oakridge Lynch. 

7th June ~ I have at last read your books on a friend’s Kindle…What can I say but perfect and inspiring. I found the illustrations really true to life. – Chris Maloney MBE

5th June ~ I just had to tell you. I’ve got a e-book reader on my new phone and I’ve been reading “Funnily Enough”. It’s so delightful, I can’t put it down…and then when I giggle over something, I have to paraphrase what happened to my husband. Thank you for sharing your story in such a light hearted, gorgeous way. J (I still can’t believe people can own pet otters. That’s so cool!)- Skye Weyland, Queensland, Australia

20th May ~ ‘At last, I have finished ‘Funnily Enough’. This is to congratulate you and say how very much I enjoyed it. It was almost as if you were in the room whilst I was reading it. It was all so natural and unaffected, as well as being inspiring. I think that we all have lessons to learn from what you went through, not least to let go and let God. I also much appreciated all the humour about your family, friends and animals, particularly the otters! Did I hear that you have published another book since?’- Chris Knox, Historian, UK

“I have only got to page 49 of Funnily Enough but already I feel as though I know you, such is the quality of your writing, as a friend and a member of my own family.” – Peter Latham, UK

A smashing, touching, moving and very funny book with a wicked sense of humor, fun and insight ~ Richard Pilbrow, USA on Goodreads

Dove Frieze

15th April 2012 ~ Funnily Enough reaches #1 in the free Kindle Store under the category Parenting & Families. We think this is hysterical.

‘The rate of downloads of Funnily Enough is astounding and highlights a hunger out there for something light and accessible yet which answers to the deep cry of the human heart.’ –Wendy Chandler, South Africa 
‘Funnily Enough’ is a joy to read, 24 Feb 2012
by Cassia book rated 5 stars
This review is from: Funnily Enough (Kindle Edition)

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book. I didn’t expect to be reading it two hours later. I was gripped from the first page. It is not just the humour that carries one through, or the wish to discover more about M.E., but it is a curiosity to know more about the fascinating life that Sophie was leading and the characters around her that are drawn so well for us. There is never a dull moment. Bring on the next one Sophie. We’re waiting!

small figure at the washing line
funnily enough, 23 Feb 2012
by Sara Maughan – book rated 5 stars
This review is from: Funnily Enough (Paperback)

I actually couldn’t put this book down. It is a very interesting account of Sophie’s life while living back at home with ME but is also absolutely hilarious in places. I would recommend it to anyone whether suffering with ME or not.

Sophie Neville

Funnily Enough – Thoughtful, interesting and entertaining, 9 Feb 2012
by Mrs. J.C. Heron – book rated 5 stars
This review is from: Funnily Enough (Kindle Edition)

I really loved this book which was quite a surprise to me as I was not sure I wanted to read about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E) or someone else’s faith but it was brilliant and made me laugh throughout. How could one not enjoy a book that is so full of wonderful characters drawn from family, friends, colleagues, otters, parrots, dogs and others? The author observes life carrying on around her while she is too ill to partake and weaves her story of illness, exhaustion, despair, hope, faith and recovery with skill, perception, humour and a light and very individual touch. I look forward to reading Sophie Neville’s next book.

Dove Frieze

Review by Lisa Scullard   5.0 out of 5 stars Secret Diary of a Film & TV Star
This is a fantastic book which really delivers what it promises! If you want a true insight on behind-the-scenes family life of the British upper-classes and their adventures working in film & television on shows that you will have heard of, including Eastenders and Doctor Who – from acting and directing to supplying the frisky animals which appear on wildlife programmes and as TV ‘pets’ – it provides a funny and heart-warming portrayal which will have you smiling on every page, even through the toughest and most bizarre of times.
And on the subject matter of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E), an illness that doctors were only just starting to grasp at the time, it provides a journey with the author Sophie’s experience through the recovery period, encounters with a menagerie of alternative therapies, and those dark moments when it seemed only God could be paying attention. Down-to-Earth, uplifting and funny – exactly what it says on the cover! And the illustrations by Sophie are cute and quirky, reminiscent of Quentin Blake. Highly recommended.
Read this review on
A funny, positive, journey! 3 April 2012

by D. WILLIAMS-THOMAS  (Worcester, England)

This review is from: Funnily Enough (Kindle Edition)

Funnily Enough! An apt title! Always positive, funny and full of surprises, Sophie Neville writes, without self pity, of her battle, and eventually her friendship, with ME. Her developing relationship with God weaves through the book, as do her extended family and friends, with their sometimes unusual and occasionally eccentric doings. This is not only for ME sufferers. It is a story of faith, optimism and hope in a life fully lived.
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Julia Fenn's letter to Sophie Neville about 'Funnily Enough'


Funnily Enough – it really is! 14 March 2012

by Peter Bell – book rated 5 stars

This review is from: Funnily Enough (Paperback)

Sophie Neville’s book ‘Funnily Enough’ is quite the most delightful new book I have read for many a long year.

From her diary she writes of a time when her relentless life in front-line television production was ‘crashed into the buffers’ by a then desperately little understood affliction. She charmingly engages the reader about her struggles with the medical condition and as a result, herself, her beliefs, her whole world, and writes as to you, personally, like an old and valued friend. It is beautifully written and every page left me smiling contentedly for hours: refreshingly different and a real tonic in itself.

Sophie draws the reader into her real life where, with the support of her wonderful if slightly unconventional family and friends far and wide, despite the setbacks, she triumphs over the adversities to new sunlit uplands in her life. It is surely also a ‘must read’ for any past or present sufferers of what is now called ‘M.E.’ for it brings hope and faith, and the charity from which she gives so much of herself – to everyone.

It is a very enjoyable and HAPPY book, nicely illustrated with her quirky sketches from the time. The excellent title is true except that I want more of Sophie’s affectionate writing style and her lovely sense of humour. Highly recommended, ‘it ticks all my boxes’: don’t risk being ‘sorry for a might-have-been’!

Steamboats on Windermere by Sophie Neville

Funnily Enough (Kindle edition)14 March 2012

by Dave Holbourn– book rated 5 stars

This review is from: Funnily Enough (Paperback)

This is my first review on a book, but I just had to do it.

This book, is a must to read, it is written in diary form, but takes you through Sophie’s days, in a day by day format, at a rate of knots, and describes her journey through her illness, the highs and the lows. The book describes her move back home to live with her parents and the many situations that happen. These incidents will have you in stitches, as you imagine what actually might have been, like the time when her father is attacked by one of these motorised garden cultivators, and his manhood is only saved when the machine decided to cut out…….

The characters who pop up in this book are wonderful, from Alastair, to Mrs Hawkins…

I could go on but I think what you should do is get this book, “Funnily Enough” and make sure you have plenty of time, are sitting comfortably, have been to the toilet, got a drink and a snack to hand, as you will not really want to move until you have finished it…….rtwom

Funnily Enough by Sophie Neville, 6 Feb 2012
By Wendy Chandler – Published on, book rated 5 stars
This review is from: Funnily Enough (Paperback)

A personal journal with comic illustrations, this is truly a tonic for the trials of life we all go through. Sophie, a young BBC director, comes down with chronic fatigue syndrome and is cast upon her family and friends for a year. ‘Funnily Enough’ makes compelling and very amusing reading while also taking a serious look at the guilt and shame, the utter frustration and desperation, the perseverance and development of character as Sophie eventually comes through with a renewed hope and energy in the light of God’s grace.

Whether you could do with a review of your own auto immune function or have a friend or family member who suffered from ME, this book promises to be enjoyable reading. You will meet many colourful characters in Sophie’s journey with telling family relationships, medical help and alternative therapies, eccentric relatives and heart-warming friendships.

Some of it is mind-blowing, the worst being a hospital stay and finding a tramp sleeping on the back seat of her car; the best being the habits of her mother’s tame otters. The book is written in a light and sketchy style (like the delightful watercolour illustrations) and thoroughly referenced with an impressive bibliography.

 Go to Amazon U.S. to see the review  5.0 out of 5 stars
Sophie Neville signing books
Sophie Neville signing books at The Arthur Ransome Society
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, adventure, tribulations and triumphs, February 28, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Funnily Enough (Paperback)

Sophie’s book “Funnily Enough” is so aptly titled. It is a courageous tale of illness overcome, trials met, and lots of courage displayed. All the time told with humor accompanied by delightful wispy watercolor sketches. This little book is truly a tonic, and the reader will be uplifted and sent back into the world ready for new adventures. I knew Sophie when she was 12 years old, when I produced the feature film “Swallow and Amazon’s,” and she played Titty so delightfully. Now we’ve all grown up, and she’s clearly grown into a fascinating, humorous, witty and wise person. Her insights into family, work in a giddy TV world, just life . . . and getting through the day, are an inspirational delight. Thank you.

Sophie’s book “Funnily Enough” is so aptly titled. It is a courageous tale of illness overcome, trials met, and lots of courage displayed. All the time told with humor accompanied by delightful wispy watercolor sketches. This little book is truly a tonic, and the reader will be uplifted and sent back into the world ready for new adventures. I knew Sophie when she was 12 years old, when I produced the feature film “Swallow and Amazon’s,” and she played Titty so delightfully. Now we’ve all grown up, and she’s clearly grown into a fascinating, humorous, witty and wise person. Her insights into family, work in a giddy TV world, just life . . . and getting through the day, are an inspirational delight. Thank you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Funnily Enough – Sophie Neville,8 Feb 2012
by Katy B
This review is from: Funnily Enough (Kindle Edition)

‘Funnily Enough’ is an honestly written and humorous account of the mental, physical and spiritual struggles encountered by Sophie Neville during the time that she was fighting CFS. Anyone who has experienced at first or second hand the difficulties which those who suffer from CFS must face, will find this both lively and thought-provoking, yet with some really meaty questions and issues at its centre.

Sophie does not apologise for who she is or where she has come from – it is delightfully refreshing that she tells things exactly as she finds them, and her open direct relationship with God and her exploration of the Christian faith is at the very centre of all she does, providing enormous encouragement and opportunity for reflection.

The book develops in style and moves from a fairly easy read to a much more analytical and serious text, which is full of great insight into the nature of God and faith, the big questions surrounding why people suffer, to the positive and uplifiting ending, which is all interspersed with wonderful whacky humour and tales of the Neville family, and Sophie’s friends and all their combined eccentricities.

'Funnily Enough' by Sophie Neville
The original diary ~ Funnily Enough by Sophie Neville

Recent comments about Funnily Enough ~

21st July ~ ‘Bought Funnily Enough for Kindle after reading a review. I have ME and struggle with feeling guilty I’m not keeping on top of my job, and I found your writing really helpful. And I love your otters!’ Liz Simpson

My friend K absolutely LOVED Funnily Enough and has been much inspired and encouraged in her own journey to recovery by what you have written, so many thanks for that.  She says she normally can’t bear to read stuff about CFS because it’s so depressing, but FE was wonderfully upbeat and full of good stuff. She is quite a bibliophile and an English graduate and was full of praise for your writing style too!’ Katy Bagnall, Cheltenham

I have enjoyed your book, Funnily Enough.  Just great and there were moments I couldn’t stop laughing! Debbie Ghaui, Kenya

I’ve just finished “Funnily Enough” (on Kindle) and I’m hoping that my wife will read it next. I did enjoy it, which surprised me – it’s very much not the sort of book I would naturally pick up. However, the mixture of wry family humour and testimony struck a chord. Paul Fernandes who has written a review on

‘I devoured Funnily Enough. ‘  ABW  Magdelene College, Oxford

‘Your book is an inspiration.’ Peter Norbury, Malvern

I have just finished your wonderful book. It is so fresh, encouraging and inspiring. I identified with it so clearly and as one who still experiences intervals of ME it was a great comfort.  Anne Wood, Ragdoll Productions 

I have read your book. Now, twice! I think some of Ransome’s ‘way with words’ must have rubbed off on you. To me, it is very moving and thought-provoking , as well as very amusing. Some passages made me laugh out loud…  I simply loved it. I felt personally included, as if you were talking to be (your unknown reader) as a friend… I loved your family too. The sort of family that is true, loving and fun. Peter Bell

“It is fabulous. I read it in two evenings and want more.” Anthea Dolby

‘I am completely loving Funnily Enough, in fact I have nearly finished it and cannot wait for the next book. I will take my copy to the Seychelles for SJ to read. I relate so much to everything … it really is amazing, such insights into life. Well done, it is just my kind of book.’  Sarah Collins, South Africa

‘I have to say that what is making me feel so much better is reading your book.  I am really enjoying it. It has made me treasure life a bit more.’

‘I read your book last weekend – you have a wonderful sense of the ridiculous!!  I laughed and laughed and kept reading bits out to Nick who was roaring with laughter.  He has it on his Kindle – so will probably dip into it when he needs to feel uplifted.  But the underlying message – about coping with adversity was very strong as well.  You are amazing.’  Diana Vernon, London

‘I am so enjoying your book, Sophie –it expresses the numerous questions we all ask at some point in our lives and I really am looking forward to getting to the end to find your answers. It’s a lovely, amusing and very brave book.’  Anne Corfield, Hampshire UK

Funnily Enough

‘I’m reading your book to my wife Janet each evening (until 0200 some days ;)) thank you for the inspiration it holds.’

“It’s Hysterical!” Nick Lambard-Scott who has it on Kindle

Great book! I love all the funny stories. Love the thread of God’s love through your life. Really moving… I really enjoyed all your family and their adventures.  I think most people aged 11-15 would enjoy it, especially the funny stories…  Rachel, aged 11

“I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.” Someone my husband met in the supermarket car park

‘I bought your book, via Kindle, and am enjoying it immensely.’ Richard Pilbrow, Connecticut…. ‘ I do congratulate you on a quite splendid achievement. The whole read is such fun, so joyful, so funny and so touching. I found it very lovable… I was quite enraptured by your lovely piece of work. Well done indeed.’

Funnily Enough

‘I decided to read your book before passing it on to Nick and am immediately enjoying it.’ Marjorie Archer, New Forest

‘I really enjoyed reading Funnily Enough. It gave me some great insights into your battle with ME and how it affected your life. It also mirrors exactly what a friend of mine is going through and her fight with ME. She is not able to draw on a religious faith but she has the support of a local ME group and a very good friend who is also an ME sufferer. I am glad for her, because sometimes I find it difficult to understand the illness and find myself getting short-tempered with her which I don’t mean to do. I have lent your book to her to help her understand more from your experiences. I do understand the terrible frustration and depression associated with her ME. Cheryl Brock.

‘I have just finished reading your wonderful, wonderful Funnily Enough. The book takes such a hopeful journey: uplifting and inspiring, interjected with such extraordinary, funny adventures…’  

‘I’m loving Funnily Enough…’  Juliet Maddan,Yorkshire

I have a very dear friend who is currently suffering from CFS and your book has helped me enormously to understand what she is going through. 

 ‘I can’t put it down…’  Michael Neville, Warwickshire

‘I have started your book – it is the first I have felt like reading since P died….’

‘…love the final conclusions – you certainly do realise what its like to be alive when you’re really ill, but how positive and uplifting that you have used that time to become close to God and to share that and how it affected you.’

‘It is a real page-turner and very well crafted.’ Gillian Jenkins, Barnes,UK

‘I am reading your book every night before I go to sleep and am enjoying it immensely.’ Penelope Chitty, Hampshire, UK


‘I’ve just got the new book as well, which I’m also enjoying, and Liz is reading “Funnily Enough” – difficult, only one Kindle between us!’  Paul Fernandez, UK


Review on Goodreads of ‘The Making of Swallows & Amazons’ by Sophie Neville ~

Being someone who has always enjoyed and collected the works of Arthur Ransome (fact and fiction) I also have a D.V.D. of the 1974 film of Swallows and Amazons, and was delighted to discover recently that Sophie Neville, who played Titty in the film, had produced this book. Her lovely, flowing narrative, interspersed with her own diary-notes from the time and lots of photographs, makes it a very enjoyable piece of literature. As a result, I’m looking forward to reading her other work ~ Nigel Young

Photograph by Sophie Neville

All artwork and photographs Copyright Sophie Neville

4 thoughts on “Reviews”

  1. What a fabulous collection of lovely reviews and superb testimonials! And all very well deserved!

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