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Small Island
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In this delicately wrought and profoundly moving, multi-award winning novel, Andrea Levy handles the weighty themes of empire, prejudice, war and love, with a lightness of touch and a generosity of spirit that challenges and uplifts the reader.

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.

Reviews

Adult/High School-This novel examines class, race, and prejudice in London in 1948, when a new multiracial England began to form. Through four principal narrators comprising two married couples, the author brings to life the dreams and fears of a generation. Gilbert, a Jamaican newlywed who served in the RAF during World War II, hopes for a prosperous future in London, though his experience of racial discrimination tells him this won't be achieved easily. His young wife, Hortense, is more naive. Arriving from the colonies prepared to take up a teaching career, she is soon in despair over rude rejections and her struggle to make herself understood, literally and figuratively, by white working-class neighbors who don't seem to comprehend the pristine English she learned on her home island. Even the small comforts provided by their affable landlady are soured when Queenie's long-missing husband returns and is less than pleased to meet the black boarders. As these mismatched pairs relate their sides of the story, the author's linguistic skill pitches their voices perfectly within time and place. Though none of the characters is very likable, all are nuanced personalities who make the book intriguing and believable throughout, even a final plot twist involving a coincidence of Dickensian proportions. Affecting, funny, and sad, this is a masterful depiction of a society on the verge of major changes.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

'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, 25/1/04 -- Independent on Sunday 20040125 'Every scene is rich in implication, entrancing and disturbing at the same time; the literary equivalent of a switch-back ride' The Sunday Times, 29/2/04 -- The Sunday Times 20040229

After winning the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Levy's captivating fourth novel sweeps into a U.S. edition with much-deserved literary fanfare. Set mainly in the British Empire of 1948, this story of emigration, loss and love follows four characters two Jamaicans and two Britons as they struggle to find peace in postwar England. After serving in the RAF, Jamaican Gilbert Joseph finds life in his native country has become too small for him. But in order to return to England, he must marry Hortense Roberts she's got enough money for his passage and then set up house for them in London. The pair move in with Queenie Bligh, whose husband, Bernard, hasn't returned from his wartime post in India. But when does Bernard turn up, he is not pleased to find black immigrants living in his house. This deceptively simple plot poises the characters over a yawning abyss of colonialism, racism, war and the everyday pain that people inflict on one another. Levy allows readers to see events from each of the four character's' point of view, lightly demonstrating both the subjectivity of truth and the rationalizing lies that people tell themselves when they are doing wrong. None of the characters is perfectly sympathetic, but all are achingly human. When Gilbert realizes that his pride in the British Empire is not reciprocated, he wonders, "How come England did not know me?" His question haunts the story as it moves back and forth in time and space to show how the people of two small islands become inextricably bound together. Agent, David Grossman. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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