Small Island

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Review, 2005 - Jamaicans - 533 pages
It is 1948 in an England that is still shaken by war. At 21 Nevern Street, London, Queenie Bligh takes into her house lodgers who have recently arrived from Jamaica. She feels she has no choice. Her husband, Bernard, whom she married to escape her dreary upbringing on a farm in the Midlands, was posted to India with the RAF during the war, but when the conflict was over he did not return. What else could she do?" "Among her tenants are Gilbert and his new wife Hortense. Gilbert Joseph was one of the serveral thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England after the war he finds himself treated very differently now that his is no longer in a blue uniform. It is desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door." "Hortense shared Gilbert's dream of leaving Jamaica and coming to England to start a better life - that's why she married him. But when she at last joins her husband, she is shocked by London's shabbiness and horrified at the way the English live. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was." "Queenie's neighbors do not approve of her choice of tenants, and neither would her husband, were he there. England may be recovering from a war but at 21 Nevern Street it has only just begun.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - oldblack - www.librarything.com

Didn't find this at all engaging. Perhaps too remote from my experience, but I think the characters seemed two-dimensional and their inner thoughts too hidden from me. Read full review

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

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About the author (2005)

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 six books, including SMALL ISLAND, which was the unique winner of both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread book of the Year, in addition to the Commonwealth Writer's Prize and the Orange Prize 'Best of the Best'. Her most recent novel, THE LONG SONG, won the Walter Scott Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

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