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Publisher's Summary

Queenie Bligh's neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn't know when, or if, her husband, posted to India during the war, will return. 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. Gilbert's wife, Hortense, too, had longed to find a better life in England. But when she joins him, she is shocked that London is far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was. Through the stories of these characters, Small Island explores a point in England's past when the country began to change. Andrea Levy handles the weighty themes of empire, prejudice, war, and love, with a superb lightness of touch and generosity of spirit.
©2004, 2005 Andrea Levy; (P)2005, 2006 Headline Audiobooks
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Critic Reviews



Commonwealth Writers' Prize Winner, 2005
Orange Prize for Fiction Winner, Best of the Best, 2005
"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....The writing is rigorous and the bittersweet ending, with its unexpected twist, touching." (Independent on Sunday)
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Customer Reviews

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By Karin on 04-29-13

Abridgment makes the story incomprehensible

I love Andrea Levy as a writer. I also love the performance of most of the narrators in this story, though some accents made it a little hard to make out the words. However after about an hour of listening the story started to make less and less sense.

I opened the Kindle copy of the book and discovered that apparently abridgment means that the narrators read every other line. Characters disappear from a scene without any warning, new chapters start without pause, engagements happen without mention. I got so lost, I stopped listening and kept reading.

It is a beautiful, well-written book, that has been complete mangled in this Audio edition. If you can read, read the book. If you can't, wait for an unabridged version or have a friend read it to you. It is well worth the wait and/or effort. I think Andrea Levy is one of the most talented UK novelists writing right now.

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Customer Reviews

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By Ailsa on 12-01-09

Brings a wonderful story to life!

Having borrowed the paperback copy of Small Island from the library, I knew I would enjoy this recording. I was, however, completely unprepared for what a special experience the audio version would be. On paper Andrea Levy writes the words of the Jamaican characters beautifully, and you can hear the music in their voices. But listening them spoken aloud is really wonderful. I do not know anyone from Jamaica, so I cannot say for sure whether the readers have authentic Jamaican accents, but to me they sounded superb. The book really did come to life in a new way with this recording. Small Island has strong likable characters woven into a good story, sprinkled with gentle humour. Not only that, but it makes you think too. I was left feeling that I?d really learnt something about lives different from my own. I found this a funny, interesting, thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable listen.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful


By Pippa Lamb on 11-24-10

Wonderful human story

That crosses all lines, race, gender, age, and location. Andrea Levy's characters are so achingly real, that to finish the book is a heartache. Her prose licks along at a wonderful pace. Sheer delight.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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