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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2004
It's 1948 in an England that is still shaken by the Second World War. Gilbert Joseph is one of the thousands of West Indian men who came to the aid of the Mother country and served in the RAF. He returns to England from Jamaica in search of a better life, and is shocked by the reactions of the people, to his presence.
Through the stories of Gilbert, Hortense, Queenie and Bernard-Small Island explores a point in England's past when the country began to change, and addresses the weighty themes of empire, prejudice, war and love with charm, humour and a generosity of spirit that challenges and uplifts the reader.
I LOVED this book...Andrea Levy is funny as only the British can be about themselves. I had the pleasure of hearing her read at the Writers and Readers Festival in Vancouver and purchased several autographed copies for my family. This really is a must read for everyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2005
Small Island is the amazing story on the first wave of Jamaican immigrants who arrived in Britain after WWII. With beautifully grafted characters and a gripping story line, the narrative takes you through different cultures, people and life styles, and through the dialogue, we are given access to the souls of the characters in their moments of weakness, doubts, fears and dreams. The plot is fantastic and the pace of the novel is so fast and gripping that you will end up finishing the book before you realize it.DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, THE UNION MOUJIK ,THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES are books to read if you are into Cosmopolitan or multi-cultural fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2009
You will absolutely love this story! It is a page turner. It was one of the selections of our book club recently and nearly everyone gave it a 9/10! It will make you laugh, cry and jump up and cheer! It would make a GREAT movie! The author does an excellent job in relaying the realistic experiences of so many Carribean (more particular Jamacian) immigrants to England - the realities of both the disappointments and triumphs.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2005
I just finished this book which was a pick from another member of our little book club in Whitby. I have to say that the ending brought me to tears over my lunch at work, and I had trouble focussing for many minutes, but the rest of the book made me laugh out loud in some places, smile in others, be sad and embarrassed at times but always I was totally into the story and the characters. Sometimes when we read, we have to put famous faces on the characters so that we can remember who they are but for "Small Island" it was not a problem - they each had their own faces and when each character told their story, it was not a problem to follow. This was an easy read but don't mistake that for simple writing - far from it. I think Andrea Levy is just an extremely gifted story-teller and Iwill certainly read her other books. Two thumbs up!!
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on April 14, 2011
Small Island is a stunning example of an author that manages to blend cultural perspectives in a way that truly feels realistic. This book is heartwarming, funny, and achingly sad at times, but worth a read for anyone interested in immigrant stories, and particularly the British immigrant experience. What stood out for me in this book were the flaws of characters--no one is perfect, and the little idiosyncrasies make each character so believable. The beauty of this novel is that you can read it for the intricate and entertaining story it provides on a character level, or as a story amongst the larger story of Britain's growth as a nation of immigrants after WW2, and the role that story plays in Britain's social situation today. Loved this book!
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on November 28, 2004
This book entertains us with a thought provoking look at the harsh reality of life for Jamaican immigrants to the Big City of London shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War (1948 )A colorful look at the lives of the 4 protagonists from each of their personal histories and perspectives. The book pulls no punches; at the same time it is imbued with characteristic humour, both Jamaican and Cockney. A very authentic description of the times, but with a very contemporary message. The author has a poetic eye for character and a historian's, for detail.An altogether endearing book .
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on August 26, 2011
Loved the beginning and the end, but then some parts were just too tedious, especially parts about the war days.
bc
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2005
Small Island is the amazing story on the first wave of Jamaican immigrants who arrived in Britain after WWII. With beautifully grafted characters and a gripping story line, the narrative takes you through different cultures, people and life styles, and through the dialogue, we are given access to the souls of the characters in their moments of weakness, doubts, fears and dreams. The plot is fantastic and the pace of the novel is so fast and gripping that you will end up finishing the book before you realize it. If you are into Cosmopolitan or multi-cultural fiction, then get this novel.
Also recommended: DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, THE UNION MOUJIK ,THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2005
Having never heard of the book nor the author I picked up Small Island because the cover looked good and the story sounded appealing. Having now read the book I was somewhat disappointed. The story was nothing new... the life of an immigrant in a new country, the trials and tribulations and the attempts to fit in to a culture that doesn't necessarily accept those who are different. The writing was not that exceptional. None of the characters really tugged at my heart strings because I didn't feel any attachment to them. If you're looking for a book to read, this one isn't bad, but there's just nothing that special about it.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2005
This book was reccommended to me by someone "high up" in Oxford Univesity Press. At first I thought it a bit Polilitcally Correct, typical good guys (the poor trodden down Colonials) the bad guys (whites-- namely the Brits and missionaries - who afterall taught them to read and write in English so they could write "award winning best sellers"!) However, as I read on I found the charaters more interesting and more complex. You won't like any of them too much, but you will understand where they are coming from. This is engagingly done by retelling previous parts of the book as each charater experienced it. Some well done poignant parts. Worth a breeze through, at least. A little soap opera-"ish" at the end.
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