Small Island

by Andrea Levy | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 075530750x Global Overview for this book
Registered by Caro1 of Newark On Trent, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on 3/6/2005
Buy from one of these Booksellers:
Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT | Bol.com
8 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Caro1 from Newark On Trent, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Sunday, March 06, 2005
It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh?s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn?t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. 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. It?s desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door. Gilbert?s wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was.

A well-deserved Orange and Whitbread prize winner.

Journal Entry 2 by Caro1 from Newark On Trent, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Monday, March 07, 2005
Welcome to the Small Island bookring!
We now have 6 members. I sent the bookring to tutleymutley on Wed 10th March and hope it reaches you all safely :-) Happy Bookring Reading!

Any problems, please PM me.

The list is as follows:

tutleymutley, Newton Abbot
parsleyraisin, Brighton
Amanida, Chertsey
BookGroupMan, Woodbridge
Beebarf, Sheffield
AnglersRest, Teignmouth
...then back to me.

Please remember to journal the book BOTH when you have received it (so we all know where it is) and once you have read it (so we all know what you thought of it.

I am really looking forward to hearing your feedback, thanks for participating.

Caroline

Journal Entry 3 by Caro1 from Newark On Trent, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Will post this tomorrow to tutleymutley. Happy reading!

Journal Entry 4 by tutleymutley from Newton Abbot, Devon United Kingdom on Friday, March 11, 2005
Arrived this morning - really well packaged with all sorts of laminated information! thanks Caro1 and will read soon as I'm on hols next week.

Journal Entry 5 by tutleymutley from Newton Abbot, Devon United Kingdom on Saturday, March 19, 2005
Well, I've very reluctantly finished this book. I normally eat up books so quickly I can hardly remember them a week later, but I felt like I got to know the characters in 'Small Island' so well, I wanted to savour each minute in their company.
I didn't want to let them go, because I cared about what happened to them (yep - even Bernard!). Wonderful read - I can see why it was a winner.
I could hear the Jamaican accents -made me homesick for Balham, where I lived for a good 10 years.
I thought the ending was just a bit 'neat' - not sure it is how it could/would have worked out in reality, but that's the advantage of writing fiction I guess - and I don't want to spoil it for Parsleyraisin who I will be handing this on to next...

Journal Entry 6 by parsleyraisin from Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Apologies for delay - this book arrived safely last week. I loved all the extra info & the little laminated book mark.
I am about half way through & it is making me very angry!

Journal Entry 7 by parsleyraisin from Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I felt really angry about the way that some of the characters were treated but at the end of the day,I didn't really enjoy this book. I don't think that that is any reflection on the book itself - it's just not my cup of tea.
I completely agree with tutleymutley that the end was too contrived & unbelievable.
It's in the post today to Amanida.

Journal Entry 8 by Amanida from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Saturday, April 23, 2005
Just plopped through my letterbox. Will start as soon as I've finished my current book.

Journal Entry 9 by Amanida from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, May 01, 2005
I enjoyed it very much, even the ending. The 4 narrators worked very well - the only character I couldn't really get into was Queenie. Bernard was particularly well done: just as I was beginning to feel sorry for him, he would do something quite despicable. It helped to hear Andrea Levy read extracts on Radio 4's Book Club this afternoon and it was interesting to hear how much Hortense and Gilbert were based on her parents.
Will be off to BookGroupMan as soon as I get his address.

Journal Entry 10 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Saturday, May 07, 2005
Thanks Amanida, arrived safe and well. The bespoke bookmark is a great idea, I might adopt it as my own ;) Will journal again when read...

Journal Entry 11 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 08, 2005
I can see why this book has been a great popular success; interesting characters – although not all likeable - a fascinating piece of untapped recent history, wartime stories - which are endlessly fascinating - and a lovely (mostly) happy ending. I know that Orange & Whitbread are not as pretentious as the Man Booker, but this is quite a light book, not particularly challenging, mould-breaking or elitist - which is all good!

The story is well documented, about Caribbean (Jamaican, not the ‘smaller islanders!’) emigration to a war-ravaged & bleak London. The back stories, referred to in alternate sections as ‘Before’ about West Indians in the British Army, US segregation, the Jamaican lifestyle are nice enough, but Levy really comes into her own with the 1948 threads; Queenie coming to terms with life on her own after the war, and Gilbert & Hortense struggling with the Mother Country’s indifference to her far flung colonial children. I didn’t find the racism particularly surprising or shocking, although I would imagine that some might find it embarrassing or possibly biased/partisan? Human nature being what it is, although multi-ethnic Britain is a much more tolerant place now (discuss!), we still tend to fear & persecute the ‘different’ in stressful situations or for financial or political expediency. One parallel occurred to me, and I’m not taking a particular moral line on this, but, is the reaction to Hortense, Gilbert, Winston et al similar to recent UK reactions to European immigrants and own indigenous migrant populations? Of course now we have the press and spin doctors to help foment the prejudice, not just the garden-fence racist reactionary.

I won’t spoil your enjoyment of the last 100 or so pages, which relies on a couple of contrived events (as mentioned by others) – but then this is fiction after all!

Journal Entry 12 by BookGroupMan at on Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (6/28/2005 UTC) at

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

Off on the next leg of its journey, from the Sugar Beet county to Steel City...enjoy

Journal Entry 13 by beeofgoodcheer from Stowmarket, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, July 02, 2005
This arrived Thursday night but I left it were I leave the post, and not by the computer to remind me to "catch" it!

Looking forward to reading it, unfortunately, I'm still a bit swamped with rings at the moment :o(


Journal Entry 14 by beeofgoodcheer from Stowmarket, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, August 13, 2005
Although the book is quite lightweight, I didn't really get into it - I just wasn't grabbed enough by the characters I think so it failed the "100 page" test.

I skimmed some of the rest of it, and to be honest, it reminded me a little of the standard "family saga" territory of Catherine Cookson, Lilian Bowles et al - and the contrived ending? hmmm ...

Although talking about the black experience of WW2 is undoubtedly important - and long overdue - I wonder if it's because of it's subject matter it's been lauded, rather than the writing?

Perhaps if I hadn't so many ring books to read I would have persevered, because it's not a bad book and I think the subject could have been interesting.

Will PM the next Bookcrosser for their address

Released 14 yrs ago (8/13/2005 UTC) at Bookring in sent to the next bookcrosser, Bookring -- Controlled Releases

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:


Journal Entry 16 by AnglersRest from Teignmouth, Devon United Kingdom on Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The book arrived this morning. Thanks.

Journal Entry 17 by AnglersRest from Teignmouth, Devon United Kingdom on Monday, September 05, 2005
I enjoyed this book, and can quite see why it won the orange Prize for Fiction last year. In someways, it reminded me of time I spent in Fiji, when the locals would always refer to England as the "Mother Country".

Thanks Caro1 for sharing this. Now, off on its way back to you.

Journal Entry 18 by Caro1 from Newark On Trent, Nottinghamshire United Kingdom on Thursday, September 15, 2005
Has now returned home to me. Thank you to everyone who participated in the ring. I may wild release it at some point, though after its little dip in the bath, I'm not sure anyone would pick it up!

Journal Entry 19 by Caro1 at Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, November 11, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (11/12/2005 UTC) at Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

A little worse for wear after a swim in the bath, but I'll see if anyone takes pity on it at the Sheffield BXers meet.

Journal Entry 20 by tiggsybabes from Pontefract, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Sunday, December 04, 2005
Left over at the Sheffield meet. My mum is going to read this & then give it back to me.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.