Small Island

Front Cover
Review, 2004 - Historical fiction - 533 pages

Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, as well as many other awards, Andrea Levy's SMALL ISLAND is a delicately wrought and profoundly moving novel of empire, prejudice, war and love. It has now been adapted into a major BBC TV drama.

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 people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
22
4 stars
40
3 stars
12
2 stars
3
1 star
1

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AJBraithwaite - LibraryThing

Solidly researched and skillfully woven, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It's a strong reminder of how small-minded Europeans can be in relation to the people of their former colonies. I had no idea ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BookConcierge - LibraryThing

Set against the backdrop of World War 2 and its immediate aftermath, this is a story with universal appeal. Two couples – the Jamaicans Hortense and Gilbert Joseph and the British Queenie and Bernard ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2004)

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 Arts Council Award. Her most recent novel, THE LONG SONG, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and her acclaimed novel SMALL ISLAND won the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best, the Whitbread Novel Award, the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, was adapted into a major BBC TV drama.

Bibliographic information