Small Island (Paperback)Andrea Levy (author)
A masterful, humane account of the experience of the Windrush generation, and a vivid portrait of post-war London, its inhabitants and their conflicts that has become a much-loved modern classic.
Small Island by bestselling author Andrea Levy won the Orange Prize for Fiction, as well as the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Whitbread. It is possibly the definitive fictional account of the experiences of the Empire Windrush generation. Now a major BBC drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris, its enduring appeal will captivate fans of Maya Angelou and Zadie Smith.
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...
Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
Number of pages: 560
Weight: 380 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 42 mm
'A brilliantly deft and humane account of two ordinary couples in post-war London.' - The Evening Standard
'Every scene is rich in implication, entrancing and disturbing at the same time; the literary equivalent of a switch-back ride.' - The Sunday Times
'What makes Levy's writing so appealing is her even-handedness. All her characters can be weak, hopeless, brave, good, bad - whatever their colour. The writing is rigorous and the bittersweet ending, with its unexpected twist, touching... People can retain great dignity, however small their island.' - Independent on Sunday
'Small Island is as full of warmth and jokes and humanity as you could wish...Such a rich saga, stuffed full of interlocking narratives.' - Time Out
'A cracking good read.' - Margaret Forster
'A great read...honest, skilful, thoughtful and important.' - The Guardian
'An involving saga about the changing face of Britain.' - The Mirror
'It's an engrossing read - slyly funny, passionately angry and wholly involving.' - The Daily Mail
'Wonderful...seamless...a magnificent achievement.' - Linda Grant
'I know it is a fiction, but I emerged from the book full of admiration for the patience and resilience of that generation... Levy has written one of those rare fictions that tells you things you didn't know but feel you should have known...the writing is deft and striking, without being pretentious.' - The Sunday Herald
'With this funny, tender, intelligent fourth novel Andrea Levy looks set to become as commercially popular as she is critically acclaimed.' - Sainsbury's Magazine
'Never less than finely written, delicately and often comically observed, and impressively rich in detail and little nuggets of stories.' - The Evening Standard
'An engrossing read - slyly funny, passionately angry and wholly involving'.' - The Daily Mail
'An impressive break-through novel' Publishing News, 23/1/04 * Publishing News *
'It is a work of great imaginative power which ranks alongside Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners, George Lamming's The Emigrants and Caryl Phillips' The Final Passage in dealing with the experience of migration.' - Linton Kwesi Johnson
'A bevy of luminaries have garlanded Andrea Levy's fourth novel with advance praise - and it's no surprise. Using elements of her own family background, Levy has vividly animated London in the immediate aftermath of World War II... She weaves a wonderfully detailed and vibrant story.' - Red
'Gives us a new urgent take on our past.' - Vogue
'A terrific book.' - Alan Plater
'I enjoyed Small Island enormously and wish it every success. It conjures up so vividly the era of the 1940's and expresses so vividly through the lives of its four protagonists the conflicts and racist attitudes that existed at that time. A wonderful insight into a little understood period.' - Joan Bakewell
'A worthy winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction...Levy does not set out to preach, and her light touch, wry humour and down-to-earth, almost gossipy tone make this novel as readable as it is challenging.' - The Sunday Times
'Small Island is a brilliant picture of the dented dreams of Jamaicans in post-war Britain' - The Financial Times
'Soon you will be enchanted. It is good enough to compete against anything written this year' Jasper Gerard, News Review, Sunday Times 13/6/04 * Jasper Gerard, News Review, Sunday Times *
'Small Island is an astonishing tour de force by Andrea Levy. Juggling four voices, she illuminates a little known aspect of recent British history with wit and wisdom. A compassionate account of the problems of post war immigration, it cannot fail to have a strong modern resonance.' - Sandi Toksvig,
'The small islands of Andrea Levy's title are not Britain, Jamaica or the outlying Caribbean islands - they are the blinkered mindsets of both the hopelessly optimistic West Indians and the reflexively racist Britons who have to learn to live together both during and after the war. But Levy's concern is not to browbeat but to educate and entertain. This deserving winner of the Orange Prize never loses its wit, energy or power.' - Observer
'A touching, eloquently written story... Andrea Levy expertly captures the turbulence of a time of momentous change.' - Sunday Telegraph
'It's more than a novel, it's a recreation of a largely unexplored episode of our history...the narrative voices seem so authentic that it is easy to become lost in their sometimes dark, sometimes joyous worlds.' - Daily Express
'What a deserved winner she is. It was a very good shortlist but in my opinion Small Island stood out at the longlist stage - for its writing, its wit and the impressively light touch she brought to the subject.' - Minette Walters
'Small Island operates on a larger canvas than Levy's previous novels. It's neither splashy nor experimental, but for thoughtfulness & wry humour cannot be faulted.' - The Telegraph
'A moving, funny, honest novel.' - Elle
'Here is the book I have been waiting for... an ample, sprawling story of nearly 450 pages, mirroring an expansive inner and outer landscape, spanning two islands and three continents, and incorporating a hybrid cast of humanly idiosyncratic characters; and above all, a book in which the author, Andrea Levy, never once forgets she is telling a story, delighting us, improbably, in this nasty tale of race, with the effervescent style of Dickens.' - Globe & Mail
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Great book i would thoroughly recomend it.
“Very enjoyable read”
I enjoyed this book very much.
It reveals racism in 1940's Britain.
The format of the book was 'before' and 'after' with 4 main charactors.
“Loved this book!”
I read this in one evening. It is yet another book that is such an enjoyable read, it makes it difficult to put down. I am an avid reader, and if a book is good I tend to lose myself in the story to the detriment of... More
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