It is 1977, the Queen's Silver Jubilee, and a photographer captures a moment forever: a street party with bunting and Union Jacks fluttering in the breeze. Right in the centre of the frame, a small Asian boy stares intently into the camera. The photograph becomes iconic, a symbol of everything that is great about Britain. But the harmonious image conceals a very different reality. Amid the party food and the platform shoes, the pop music and the punk, there are tensions in the Cherry Gardens community. As the street party begins, those tensions threaten to erupt. Fast forward to the present and the boy, Satish, has become a successful cardiologist, saving lives, respected by those around him. But he is living with a secret. When Satish is asked to take part in a reunion of those involved in that Jubilee photograph, he must confront the truth about that day, and the events that changed the course of his life.
©2011 Shelley Harris (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group
The story line is not bad, but it is let down by a number of issues, both related to the story and the performance.
The most irritating aspect of the story is the repetition of certain events, despite it being presented from the perspective of different characters. The worst of these is the kiss between Mandy and Shafeez. The thing is that the different characters bring at most two different perspectives. In addition that the jumps in time are not indicated with sufficient clarity. One often wonders whether what is happening is in the present or the past. Narratives also often become unclear as one looses track of who is saying what, not assisted by a performance that does not distinguish the different characters.
Mr Garewal reads the text well enough. However, the different characters are not sufficiently distinguished and everybody sounds the same. I also found the random if brief silences throughout the reading to detract from this audiobook.
"Good Premise but not a Gripping Listen"
Jubilee is about a photograph taken during a Silver Jubilee street party in 1977. The photograph is populated by white families but it also features a smiling Asian boy, Satish, the protagonist of the story.
The photograph becomes iconic - an example of "Multicultural Britain", and later a punk band (think the Sex Pistols or the Clash) use the photograph on their album cover, further immortalising the image.
30 years later the now famous photographer, wants to recreate the photo that launched his career, using the original `cast'.
But Satish, now a successful paediatric cardiologist, is reluctant to take part, and as the story unfolds we learn why.
For Satish that Jubilee day wasn't as joyous an event as it appeared to be in the picture.
Whilst the concept of telling the 'real story' behind the photo is an interesting one, the novel itself is lacking in pace and was problematic for me. It is very well narrated and there are some good examples of the cultural missteps that were happening in Britain during the late 70s but the story itself is very slow and the chapters set in the present lacked depth and verged on boring at times.
Other reviews I have read said the reveal of what happened to Satish on that Jubilee day was an anticlimax; however I disagree. Sure, worse things happen in crime novels etc. but that doesn't lessen the awfulness of what happened to the young Satish in this story. Perhaps the structure and the more drawn out parts of the book lessened the impact of the incidents for other readers.
Ultimately this story had huge potential but turned out to be disappointing. It felt as though it had been padded out in places to meet the word count requirement of a novel and would have probably been more gripping and better paced as a short story or a novella.
Some parts were good but it wasn't a compelling listen.
"Jhumpa Lahiri Is The American Shelley Harris"
I bought it on a 2 for 1 sale. But 'Jubilee' is certainly far from being a half-creditworthy listen.
It's a multi-layered, well-balanced, sensibly written story with memorable characters. An excellent prose with wity vocabulary and very original syntactic solutions. An utterly courageous prose as well, with authentic language of the 70's. The narration is superbe.
I'm looking forward to hear some more about Mrs. Harris. Well done!
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