“You do not know me yet. My son Thomas, who is publishing this book, tells me, it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within these pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed... July is a slave girl who lives upon a sugar plantation named Amity and it is her life that is the subject of this tale. She was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and she was also present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story tells also of July’s mama Kitty, of the negroes that worked the plantation land, of Caroline Mortimer the white woman who owned the plantation and many more persons besides - far too many for me to list here. But what befalls them all is carefully chronicled upon these pages for you to peruse.”
Andrea Levy is a child of the Windrush. She is the daughter of one of the pioneers who sailed from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush ship. Her father and later her mother came to Britain in 1948 in search of a better life. For the British born Levy this meant that she grew up black in a very white England. This experience has given her an unusual perspective on the country of her birth - neither feeling totally part of the society nor a total outsider.
Her novels include the semi-autobiographical Every Light in the House Burnin’ (1994), Never Far From Nowhere (1996), Fruit of the Lemon (1999) and Small Island (2004).
Small Island is the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction Best of the Best, the Whitbread Novel Award and Best Book Award, and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.
***** (Average rating: 4 stars)
"Thoroughly captivating… As well as being beautifully written The Long Song is a thoroughly researched historical novel that is both powerful and heartbreaking." - The Daily Express
"As well as providing a history of post-abolition Jamaica, The Long Song is beautifully written, intricately plotted, humorous and earthy... Those who enjoyed Small Island will love The Long Song, not just for the insights on the “wretched island”, but as a marvel of luminous storytelling." - The Financial Times
"Slavery is a subject that has inspired some magnificent fiction, but I had some misgivings: might it not, in this case, make for over-serious writing, especially for a novelist as comically inclined as Levy? But she dares to write about her subject in an entertaining way without ever trivialising it and The Long Song reads with the sort of ebullient effortlessness that can only be won by hard work." - The Observer