Small Island

Levy, Andrea

  13 Reviews

Focuses on an immigrant Jamaican couple and an English couple in post-war Britain. Gilbert and Hortense rent a room in a house owned by Queenie and the absent Bernard, and confront the growing prejudice towards coloured immigrants on the part of many "Mother Country" residents. A comedy of errors occurs when Bernard, presumed dead, returns to find "Coloureds" in his home, and his wife producing a baby, which is certainly not his. Commonwealth Writer's Prize, Best Book; Orange and Whitbread Prize Winner. [Big read}

Comments from Groups

Intriguing story - excellent book notes. A lively discussion. Nelson 052

We all loved this book and highly recommend it. Southbridge 001

A mixed reaction. Some found it heavy going and didn't finish. Others enjoyed the beautiful writing and found it historically interesting. Northland 002

This book was enjoyed by everyone and the discussion was interesting. There were many aspects of the English/Jamaican mix that were new to us, and made us realise our own "race relations" need to make us aware of problems. They still exist, we have to admit. Hamilton 010

Andrea Levy is a highly skilled writer with great characterisation ability. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire novel and would recommend it to other groups. Ohope 001

Rarely do we all agree - but we all enjoyed it. Characterisation was brilliant, and the writing skillful. We could empathise with the characters, and some could relate to their own experiences. The ideas of empire and colonisation were well discussed. Lots of twists and turns in the plot narrative. Well done. Hikurangi 001

Members enjoyed very much. One member had started to write down the phrases she enjoyed, but there were too many! Good discussion.

One of the reasons for the book's success is the excellent use of language. The sentences are short and direct, and it is descriptive without adjectives or adverbs, tumbling over with wonderful metaphors on almost every page. The book succeeds very well in illustrating the resentment that 'boils and grows bitter when strangers arrive in the tribal home land'. Also in illustrating the fearful hurdles facing the new arrivals. Christchurch 099



AUCK 173
We all really enjoyed the book. Had an interesting discussion about the experience of immigration, and xenophobia in both Britain and N.Z.
Wonderful discussion. All members want to read more of her books.
We enjoyed learning about the historical background and the attitudes to the West Indian people in the U.K. Several of the group could identify with this. The short chapters made the reading manageable. One member didn't like the short sentences, as a writing style. A great ending!
WELL 047
The book was found to be very easy reading and very enjoyable, and it created very good discussion. It was interesting to read of the West Indian, pre-war attitude to England as "The Mother Country".
Most of us thoroughly enjoyed this book. Discussion on racism, tolerance (or intolerance) and our experiences as children at the end of the 2nd WW, were wideranging. An excellent evening overall.
Enjoyed by all.
CHCH 433
Even though we were in 'lockdown', some didn't finish the book. Others had great enthusiasm and liking for Gilbert making his way in 'Mother England'.
CHCH 298
A great book - enjoyed by all. Funny in parts and moving in others. Very relevant to what's happening in the world at the moment.
As usual some loved the book, others didn't!
WELL 022
Whilst the book got off to a slow start with 'a not so likeable' character as the primary voice ( which put some of the group off finishing the book) the group enjoyed the insights gained from the author's use of other voices which gave a totally different perspective of identical events. The discussion was rich, varied and full of laughter, especially when sharing the experiences of members who are immigrants to N.Z.
MAST 008
This book received two 10/10s! Greatly enjoyed. So cleverly written bringing the characters to life - a great shame to realise how badly the Jamaican people were treated. Fantastic book.
TAUR 019
Enjoyed by all. Would recommend.
TAUR 058
Our group had mixed reviews of this book - ranged from didn't like the way it was written, to those who loved it.