The Long Song: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010: Now A Major BBC Drama

Andrea Levy

The Long Song: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010: Now A Major BBC Drama
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The Long Song: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010: Now A Major BBC Drama

Andrea Levy

You do not know me yet. My son Thomas, who is publishing this book, tells me, it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within these pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed. July is a slave girl who lives upon a sugar plantation named Amity and it is her life that is the subject of this tale. She was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and she was also present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story tells also of July’s mama Kitty, of the negroes that worked the plantation land, of Caroline Mortimer the white woman who owned the plantation and many more persons besides - far too many for me to list here. But what befalls them all is carefully chronicled upon these pages for you to peruse.

Review

Ah. At long last we have the new novel by Orange Award-winning author Andrea Levy (Small Island). This is the story of Miss July, the child of a field slave in Jamaica and her mistress, Mrs. Mortimer, a newly arrived pompous English widow. Together they survive the chaotic end to slavery, but indeed Miss July remains to near the end a victim of racism.

I savoured Levy’s ability to observe and record the language and movement of her characters. Her ability, for example, to record an array of interpretations of English is masterful, and at times very humorous. The Long Song is a tribute to the resilience of those under the rule of the barbarous and unethical shallow English migrants.

At times The Long Song is a shocking record of Jamaican and English history, but it is in the end a story of a strong woman and of the respect she deserves. This is a brilliant addition to an already impressive collection of work. This is a book for past fans of Levy’s work but also for anyone that enjoys Atwood, Morrison and Lessing.

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