Tuesday, April 6, 2010

49 - The Long Song; Andrea Levy














THE LONG SONG,  by Andrea Levy is a touching story set in 19th century Jamaica. The novel is written in memoir form, and the story is narrated by July. July is now an elderly woman who lives with her well educated son and his family. Though her she tells the story of her birth, her childhood, into old age. She was conceived when her mother Kitty, a slave, was raped. Her father Tam was a white overseer of the sugar plantation.

When July was very young she is taken from her mother. The sister of the owner of Amity plantation, Carol Mortimer, demands that little July, come to live with her in the great house. Miss July, as she is sometimes referred to, is spared the most horrible of conditions endured by other plantation slaves. The novel also addresses the 1830's, and the Baptist Wars and rebellion as slavery comes to an end, and (without spoilers), the reader learns what happens as a result.

The LONG SONG  is ultimately a bittersweet novel, with characters I eventually came to care about. The prose is somewhat lyrical, and I enjoyed the occasional humor interjected, especially when the slaves pulled some comical stunts to get back at their masters. Despite the humor, lightly pepper within this novel, the reader does not easily forget, the abuse, injustice and other horror stories experienced by plantation slaves.

I was not sure what to expect when I began this novel as I had never read anything by this author. The LONG SONG is both well written and memorable. I hope to read the author's earlier book SMALL ISLAND as well in the near future. This book is recommended. (4/5 stars)
(Review copy received through Amazon Vine)

24 comments:

  1. This sounds like one of those books that seems true as you read it. I love books like that!

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  2. This one sounds like a book that will stay with the reader for quite some time.

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  3. Oooo, I really wanna read this one. I loved Small Island, it's one of my favorites. Definitely read it!

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  4. Happy to hear you liked it - I brought it home from the library today.

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  5. I have this on my wishlist so I am so happy to hear you liked it so much!

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  6. Well I had never heard of this author also. Sounds like something that needs to be read.
    Great review!

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  7. I've heard so much of this author and your review sounds so very good. Thank you for highlighting this book.

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  8. This book sounds interesting. Sometimes not knowing what to expect before reading a book is so worth it!

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  9. I would love to read this one. I want to read Small Island before the summer leaves.

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  10. This sounds really good Diane. Thanks for the review.

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  11. Your book is set in Jamaica, and my book ("Confucius Jade") is set in China. It's an adventure story, really, about a fantastic jade carving and 3 billionaires who covet it, because it promises a long life and redemption. (And who wouldn't want those things?!) Lots of into about China, including its history and politics, plus it's just a nice ride of a book.

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  12. I love to read books on slavery. This seems like a good read :)

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  13. I have a copy of this out of the library at the moment. Hopefully I'll be able to read it next week some time.

    I enjoyed Small Island, but didn't love it, so hopefully I'll like this one a bit more.

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  14. I read one of her books last year. It was called 'Never Far From Nowhere' and I have to say I did enjoy it. I hope to read Small Island soon too.

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  15. I've read good things about Small Island, and this one sounds like something I'd like too.

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  16. I debated this one from Amazon but decided I want to read Small Island first. Small Island is coming to Masterpiece Theatre, too, so I look forward to that!

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  17. I heard that Levy is one of the only Orange Prize Longlisters that really poses a threat for Hilary Mantel. I can't wait to read this book.

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  18. Thanks so much for your great review. I will keep an eye on this book!

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  19. This had been on my radar so I'm glad to see you liked it. Funny, I just started Small Island last night!

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  20. Must add this one to my list, thanks!

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  21. I read Small Island a few years ago, and think that this book sounds like something I would like as well. I am glad that you enjoyed it, even if it was a bittersweet read. Great review!

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  22. Thank you for this great review, Diane. The Long Song sounds like something I would like. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

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  23. I read her first novel, Fruit of the Lemon, set in London and Jamaica, in more recent time. Glad to see she has at least 2 other books since then!

    Harvee, Book Dilettante

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  24. I've not read anything by this author but your review sure suggests that I should.

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