Small Island

  • Type: Books
  • By: Andrea Levy
  • Age Category: Adults
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Recommended by: Sally M.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9780312424671
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From one small island to another, in search of a better life.

The recent PBS Masterpiece presentation of The Long Song piqued my curiosity about British author Andrea Levy, on whose novel the show was based. I found one of her books, Small Island, here at CADL. I’m so glad I did. Small Island tells the story of Hortense and Gilbert Joseph, a young couple who emigrate from Jamaica to England in the late 1940s. Gilbert goes first, to find housing and work, then Hortense follows six months later. London is not what either of them expected. Gilbert, a veteran of the RAF, believes the ‘mother country’ will welcome him with open arms. Hortense, educated at a small college in Jamaica, is certain she will find work as a teacher. Instead they find themselves struggling to find work and living in a tiny room at a boarding house run by Queenie Bligh, a young woman whose husband, Bernard, has been missing since the end of the war. The book is told in these four voices—Hortense, Gilbert, Queenie, and Bernard. Levy masterfully draws these four characters and as the novel progresses, the story unfolds from each of their unique viewpoints. This is a warm, funny, touching novel that I greatly enjoyed. I’ll be seeking out her other novels.