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Sarah Broadhurst's view...
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.
Small Island by Andrea Levy
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.
‘‘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
About the Author
Publication date13th September 2004
More books by Andrea Levy
Author 'Like for Like'
CategoriesModern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
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