8 journalers for this copy...
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.
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
...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.
Will post this tomorrow to tutleymutley. Happy reading!
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.
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...
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!
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.
Just plopped through my letterbox. Will start as soon as I've finished my current book.
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.
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...
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!
Released 14 yrs ago (6/28/2005 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Off on the next leg of its journey, from the Sugar Beet county to Steel City...enjoy
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(
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
Journal Entry 15
Bookring in sent to the next bookcrosser, Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, August 13, 2005
Released 14 yrs ago (8/13/2005 UTC) at Bookring in sent to the next bookcrosser, Bookring -- Controlled Releases
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
The book arrived this morning. Thanks.
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.
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
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:
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.
Left over at the Sheffield meet. My mum is going to read this & then give it back to me.