Saturday 30 July 2011

The Long Song by Andrea Levy

Small Island was one of my favourite reads of 2010, so I was very excited to get my hands on Andrea Levy's most recent book, The Long Song.  It tells the story of July, a Jamaican slave born to a Jamaican field hand and white overseer.  Kept as a lady's maid to a plantation owner, her world is soon turned upside down by the violent slave riots and eventual freedom.

Unfortunately, this is one of those books that I wanted to love but just couldn't.  I can't think of anything I disliked about it but it just didn't click with me - maybe the curse of high expectations?  I liked the format of July setting her story down for posterity (with the interference of her publisher son), and I especially liked the way it was written with Jamaican inflection; I could almost hear July in my head.

I think part of the problem was that I couldn't connect with any of the characters.  Levy clearly showed how awful slavery was and it's impact on everyone, and I liked how she explained how the big events affected individuals but I just didn't care about the individuals.  So I had a feeling of detachment as I read the book and didn't feel a strong urge to pick it up once I had put it down.

Verdict: An interesting idea, but I'd recommend Small Island over this one.
Source: Owned, paperback
Score: 3 out of 5

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