Small Island

by Andrea Levy

eBooks of the Month Family Drama Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Small Island

A 2012 World Book Night selection.

A novel about racism, prejudice and injustice in the post war years in London as Jamaicans, escaping economic hardship, move to the Mother Country.  Told from four characters’ points of view, it deserves all the accolade and prizes it has received.  Powerful yet light in touch, humorous yet high in drama, it is a most rewarding and touching read. Won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004 and on the 25th Jan 2005 the Whitbread 2004 overall.


Comparison: Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith.

Sarah Broadhurst

Small Island Synopsis

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do? Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It’s desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door. Gilbert’s wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was.

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Small Island Press Reviews

‘‘What makes Levy’s writing so appealing is her even-handedness. All her characters can be weak, hopeless, brave, good, bad - whatever their colour. The writing is rigorous and the bittersweet ending, with its unexpected twist, touching... People can retain great dignity, however small their island’
Independent on Sunday, 25/1/04


‘Every scene is rich in implication, entrancing and disturbing at the same time; the literary equivalent of a switch-back ride’
The Sunday Times, 29/2/04

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780755307500
Publication date: 13/09/2004
Publisher: Headline
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780755307500
Publication date: 13th September 2004
Author: Andrea Levy
Publisher: Headline
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 560 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents who came to Britain in 1948. After attending writing workshops when she was in her mid-thirties, Levy began to write the novels that she, as a young woman, had always wanted to read - entertaining novels that reflect the experiences of black Britons, which look at Britain and its changing population and at the intimacies that bind British history with that of the Caribbean.   She has written five novels, been a judge for the Orange Prize for Fiction, Orange Futures and the Saga Prize, and has been a recipient of an ...

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