In this delicately wrought and profoundly moving novel, Andrea Levy handles the weighty themes of empire, prejudice, war and love, with a lightness of touch and a generosity of spirit that challenges and uplifts the reader.
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 brilliantly deft and humane account of two ordinary couples in post-war London. - Evening Standard
Every scene is rich in implication, entrancing and disturbing at the same time; the literary equivalent of a switch-back ride. - The Sunday Times
SMALL ISLAND is never less than finely-written, delicately and often comically observed, and impressively rich in detail and little nuggets of stories. - Evening Standard
What makes Levy's writing so appealing is her even-handedness. All her characters can be weak, hopeless, brave, good, bad - whatever their colour. The writing is rigorous and the bittersweet ending, with its unexpected twist, touching... People can retain great dignity, however small their island. - Independent on Sunday
Small Island is as full of warmth and jokes and humanity as you could wish...Such a rich saga, stuffed full of interlocking narratives. - Time Out
A cracking good read. - Margaret Forster
A great read...honest, skilful, thoughtful and important. - Guardian
An involving saga about the changing face of Britain. - Mirror
Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents who came to Britain in 1948. She has lived all her life in London. After attending writing workshops when she was in her mid-thirties, Levy began to write the novels that she, as a young woman, had always wanted to read entertaining novels that reflect the experiences of black Britons, which look closely and perceptively at Britain and its changing population and at the intimacies that bind British history with that of the Caribbean.
She has written four previous novels, has been a judge for the Orange Prize for Fiction, Orange Futures and the Saga Prize, and has been a recipient of an Arts Council Award. Her second novel, NEVER FAR FROM NOWHERE, was long listed for the Orange Prize, and her most recent novel, SMALL ISLAND, won the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best, the Whitbread Novel Award, the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. It has now been adapted into a major BBC TV drama.