Small Island by Andrea Levy
A Novel

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Synopsis

Winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction


A Picador Original Trade Paperback



Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer's daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.



Told in these four voices, Small Island is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers---in short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant's life.



 

About Andrea Levy

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Born in 1956 to Jamaican parents, Andrea Levy is the author of three previous novels and has received a British Arts Council Writers Award in addition to the Orange Prize and Whitbread distinctions. She lives and works in London.
 
Published April 1, 2010 by Picador. 448 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, War. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Small Island

Kirkus Reviews

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The winner of the 2004 Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the 2004 Orange Prize—the first writer to win both for the same novel—draws on her Jamaican background in the alluring story of two couples, one Jamaican and one English, whose paths cross in WWII-era England.

Feb 15 2005 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The New York Times

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the present action occurs over a few days in 1948, but a great deal of the novel takes place in a time zone Levy simply labels ''Before.'' As if to make up for this lack of incident, toward the end of the novel Levy has Queenie spring a surprise on the other characters -- one that catches the rea...

Apr 03 2005 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Guardian

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So, in Being Alan Bennett (BBC2, Sunday), we're watching Bennett at the National watching a rehearsal of his play about a rehearsal at the National of a play about two artists who, like Bennett himself, are approaching the twilight of their careers, but can't stop doing what they do.

Dec 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Guardian

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At a key moment in Small Island, Andrea Levy gives over a chapter to a character's description of a dream that he has had.

Jan 08 2005 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Guardian

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While I've always believed that African-Caribbean stories were, at the very least, equal to those of the other human tribes, the executives on the sixth floor of BBC's Television Centre –and also at ITV, although the BBC is just about the only game in town these days – have traditionally held a d...

Dec 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Guardian

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Wanting to keep her secrets, Queenie even lies to Gilbert about why the baby is called Michael, saying it was the name of her brother, killed in the war.

Jan 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Guardian

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A butcher's daughter from Nottinghamshire who has spent her adult life in West London, she had elocution lessons in her teens, further confusing the sound of her voice.

Dec 11 2004 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Guardian

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Everything comes to a crisis in 1948 when, in the novel's last section, Queenie gives birth to a son.

Dec 18 2004 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Guardian

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Small Island by Andrea Levy 448pp, Review, £14.99 Andrea Levy's narrative switches between four protagonists.

Feb 14 2004 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

Examiner

Synopsis: The Windrush Era, of England, is named after a ship which brought Caribbeans to England from 1947-1954.

May 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

Book Reporter

Levy has intricately woven the lives of four small islanders --- two from Jamaica, two from England --- into a tapestry of time and place so intimate and full of color that it lingers in the reader's memory long after closing the cover.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Telegraph

Sunday is the traditional night for costume drama – and in many ways Small Island (BBC One) fits the bill nicely.

Dec 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

Suite 101

Broad in approach, intimate in its detail, Small Island is a story of people confronting difference, change and the aftermath of war.

Mar 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

We Love This Book

Andrea Levy’s Whitbread and Orange Prize-winning novel is a wartime story of race, prejudice and lust set in post-Blitz London.

Sep 13 2004 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

Zimbio

Against the backdrop of World War II and post war England, we learn about the dreams and ambitions of Queenie, Bernard, Hortense, and Gilbert.

Apr 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Susannah Cullinane Sunday Times [UK] 3.5 of 5 Stars "If it weren’t for Levy’s light, mocking humour, mainly at the expense of Gilbert and Bernard, who are relentlessly upstaged by their wilful womenfolk, this novel would be almost unbearable to read: a tragic litany of prejudice and the ingr...

Jan 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

The Age

But where Smith's book was the sprawling debut of a precocious talent, Levy's is something altogether smaller, while at the same time more substantial and therefore satisfying.

Apr 17 2004 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

ReadySteadyBook

it is also incredibly well researched, though it never feels burdened by this fact, instead Levy successfully blends the familiar with the startling: she contrasts the petty, sniping intolerance of the British with the overt hatred of the American GIs, she describes the aftermath of an air raid w...

Sep 13 2004 | Read Full Review of Small Island: A Novel

Reader Rating for Small Island
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