Andrea Levy's acclaimed Small Island is a delicately wrought and profoundly moving novel of empire, prejudice, war, and love. It was awarded the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction, the 2004 Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize.
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.... Read by the author.
©2004 Andrea Levy (P)2015 Headline Digital
"Wonderful...seamless...a magnificent achievement." (Linda Grant)
"A cracking good read...I think what appealed to me most was the passion and anger in the writing all the way through, yet it was always leavened with a particularly wry sort of humour - the sort that, tho' you find yourself smiling, you at the same time realise you almost shouldn't be." (Margaret Forster)
I don't generally write reviews, but this performance merits special notice. Andrea Levy, the author of this compelling story, is a first-rate narrator, presenting her several characters and accents with convincing accuracy. The dialogue is natural and engaging, and her Jamaican characters are voiced with the full musicality of their language. A real listening pleasure!
Close to the top. The story is captivating.
I enjoyed the fact that the story is narrated by several different characters, each with a unique, and, at times, quite comical, perspective.
Ms. Levy breathed life into each quirky, fascinating character. She performed different accents extremely well.
The Clash Echoes.
I strongly recommend this nook.
"A breath taking saga."
I loved this audio book. I had chosen the book for my book group so listened to it after I'd read it.
I got so much more from it by doing this.
I was born in 1940 so was just a baby during the war and this was a real eye opener for me.
If ever Andrea Levy tires of writing she could surely earn a living with her talent for narrating!
Worth reading again.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book also gave me insight into another culture.
Andrea Levy was superb in every role, but I particularly enjoyed Gilbert and Hortense. Some of their conversations are hilarious!
I highly recommend this book and will certainly read it again.
Excellent story. Loved the fact that the author read it especially the use of the accents. I was not expecting that ending. I would thoroughly recommend this book particularly if you are interesting in social history.
"A lovely easy to follow story"
I found this a very enjoyable book to listen to, easy to follow with only a few key characters. The story develops over time in a very elegant way.
The narrator (also the author) was excellent.
"History with Taste"
Andrea Levy is as awesome a narrator as she is an author. This is my first reading of Andrea Levy and l must say that she creates a mosaic of history with taste. I can relate for l appreciate the story, the nuances and the depth she threads into book. l am completely moved by the reality of her writing.
"You had to be there . . . . ."
This is a timely reminder of the amount of open bigotry, prejudice and discrimination that existed in this 'small island' after the 2nd WW. The Brexit debates are but a shallow reflection of this. Perhaps the main difference is that such attitudes are no longer the socially accepted norm . . . but scratch the surface and sadly much is still there.
I grew up in the 50's and can testify that such attitudes and behavior were both socially acceptable and the norm. I am sure that as a child I was a culprit and it was many years before I was able to free myself from such conditioning.
The book . . . . five stars say it. Read it and reflect on that small island does not have to equate to small minded
"A brilliant window into post-war multi-cultural GB"
The insight into moving to Britain after the second world war to find that despite all you have been told and all that you have done for the mother country, that you never feel accepted or welcome.
The characters. The characters make this story. Sure, the way each of their lives entwine is a little far-fetched but ultimately it makes for an incredibly compelling look at post-war multi-cultural Britain and how each of these people from these very different cultures and backgrounds adapts to a country that has in a way lost its identity following the horrors of the war.
I haven't but would be interested to pick another one up.
the mother country's unwanted children.
"A very moving story"
A very moving story with lots of smiles and also sadness, I could just imagine a scenario as this story.
"A huge huge story"
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, wonderfully read. Andrea Levy made the characters so real and entertaining. Highly recommended.
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