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Small Island - Andrea Levy

Small Island

By: Andrea Levy

Paperback | 1 January 2010 | Edition Number 1

At a Glance

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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...

About the Author

Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents. Her radio appearances, and readings at literary festivals, bookshops and libraries have helped her to build an enthusiastic following. Andrea is the winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction.
Industry Reviews
A brilliantly deft and humane account of two ordinary couples in post-war London. - 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

SMALL ISLAND is never less than finely-written, delicately and often comically observed, and impressively rich in detail and little nuggets of stories. - Evening Standard

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. - Guardian

An involving saga about the changing face of Britain. - Mirror

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