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Every Light in the House Burnin' [Paperback]

Andrea Levy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

23 Feb 1995

The remarkable, emotional debut novel, both funny and moving, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, from the critically aclaimed Andrea Levy, author of the Orange Prize winning SMALL ISLAND and the Man Booker shortlisted THE LONG SONG.

'Better opportunity' - that's why Angela's dad sailed to England from America in 1948 on the Empire Windrush. Six months later her mum joined him in his one room in Earl's Court...

...Twenty years and four children later, Mr Jacob has become seriously ill and starts to move unsteadily through the care of the National Health Service. As Angela, his youngest, tries to help her mother through this ordeal, she finds herself reliving her childhood years, spent on a council estate in Highbury.

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Every Light in the House Burnin' + Never Far From Nowhere + Fruit of the Lemon
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (23 Feb 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074724653X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747246534
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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, Every Light in the House Burnin', Never Far From Nowhere, Fruit of the Lemon and Small Island. She 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.

Product Description


'The story is well told, does not dodge complexity and rings true' (The Times)

'Andrea Levy is the long awaited birdsong of one born Black and Gifted in Britain. Let her sing and sing and sing' Marsha Hunt (Marsha Hunt)

'An extremely powerful novel' (TLS)

'An interesting and touching book' (Daily Telegraph)

'Humorous and moving, unflinching and without sentiment' (Independent on Sunday)

'Levy's skill and cunning leave the reader shaken' (The Voice)

Andrea Levy is the long awaited birdsong of one born Black and Gifted in Britain. Let her sing and sing and sing (Marsha Hunt)

'The only disappointment is that after two hundred and fifty pages, it ends' (Literary Review)

'An interesting and touching book' (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

An emotional debut novel, both funny and moving, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Levy's first book is a masterpiece. The story is told by Angela Jacob, a young black woman, born and brought up on a council estate in England.
The chapters alternate between Angela's childhood - from the first time she has her hair straightened to her first experiences of avocado and pizza - and her grim present where her father is dying of cancer. The switch between memories of the man who brought her up, to the reality of a man desperate not to die, engulfs the reader in a maze of emotion. Mr Jacob's progress through the NHS of the late 60's and encounters with professionals who don't care, is heartbreaking. I kept telling myself that it couldn't possibly happen but then had to admit that it could.
Accounts of Angela's childhood tell us much of what it means to be black and British and to search for acceptance within a society that doesn't know how to define you.
"Every light in the House Burnin'" is a must for anyone regardless of colour or gender but might I suggest a box of tissues for the end?
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Light in the House Burnin' 19 Dec 2005
I was so pleased with 'Small Island' that I have read all of Andrea's Levy's books and think this is the best. The characters and relationships are so real and relevant to anyone who has experienced an ordinary childhood in the 60s. Mr Jacobs' progress through the National Health Service was both dated and yet not dated, as I know from my experience of hospital visiting in recent years. I lost all sense of time whilst reading the second half of this book and cannot get it out of my mind. Splendid!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Light in the House Burnin 24 Aug 2005
I have just finished reading this book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The most moving account of the love a daughter has for her father and the story of her growing up. It is told with such warmth, humour and love.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful book. 19 Jan 2007
I had already read 'Small Island' and 'Never far from Nowhere' and enjoyed both of these books. But I have to say that, for me, 'Every Light in the House Burnin'' is the best so far. I've just finished it and, as I bought it from Amazon, felt the need give my thoughts here on this book. The style of dipping back to memories from the past and then coming back to the present worked so well. The author's memories of her childhood and schooldays (including the wonderful description of school dinners) had me at times smiling, laughing and sighing as my own memories were evoked. I suppose I could identify a lot with the main character as I spent my very early years on a council estate and also have a West Indian parent. I was gripped and, like an earier reviewer above, had to read the book in one sitting to find out what would happen. And I have to say that not many books actually make me cry - but the end of this one had the tears flowing freely. There's one line that goes something like: 'I placed my hand on his, the same hand I used to hold when I was crossing the road...' When you read this in context I believe it to be one of the most poignant, moving lines I've ever come across. A really good book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every Light in the House Burnin' 9 Feb 2006
By A Customer
A well structured, well excuted book, set in three different decades and jumping from one to another seamlessly - generally a very difficult thing to achieve.
I found the book hilariously funny in places and tremendously sad in others and in the end was forced to read it in one sitting purely because I couldn't wait to find what happened next.
I very much look forward to reading more novels by this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow what a great read 30 Jun 2011
This is one of the few books that will live in my memory for a very long time.
I liked the way the story flowed from past to present with strong characters that gave depth to the story. The touches of humour were needed to lighten it at times, and yes I did shed tears of sadness. I have not written about the plot as this has already been well covered by previous reviewers.
Andrea's story telling is second to none and I have recommended her books to many of my friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Oh no, not another sorry-the-vacancy's-been-filled tale of immigrant woe in post-War Britain, I hear you say. Well, that certainly wasn't the case with Small Island, the deserved winner of the 2004 Orange Prize, an ambitious, even-handed and moving look at life for Jamaicans in Britain during the War. Nor is it with Every Light in the House Burnin', the story of a Caribbean family living in 1960s north London, whose plot centres on the slow physical demise of the patriarch, the narrator Angela's father. This touching story, an odyssey through the British health system, is intercut with anecdotal memories of Angela's childhood. Written in a strongly autobiographical tone the novel oozes charm, is sensitive and humorous, but lacks just a little in substance. The experiences of Angela and her family could almost be those of any respectable working-class family of that time. They didn't differ much from my own - with one striking exception: the hurtful name-calling, sadly part of the rites of passage for many non-white immigrants to the UK and their offspring during that era.
By the time that Andrea Levy had penned Small Island she had matured into a fine writer and that book remains one of the best to come out of the UK in recent years. This novel was early practice.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I did not find this quite as gripping as the other novels by this author, perhaps because the subject has been addressed many times before by many different authors. Read more
Published 3 months ago by lindsey
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
For any child, born in the 60s or 70s this book will have you reminiscing and remembering parts of your childhood, some of which you may have wanted to forget. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Marcia White
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing
Having read Small Island by same author and loved it, was very disappointed in this book, wouldn't have thought it was written by the same person.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. C. A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Felt like I could relate to the characters in this book. Well written Enjoyed getting to know the characters, reminded me of people I grew up with. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Donna Kaur
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories of my childhood
My parents came from the Caribbean to the UK and this book is so real. Reminiscent of my childhood, teenage years and adulthood. Beautifully written. Thank you
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Light in de house Burnin' - review
Very funny and accurately written. Levy captures the West Indian male of that era perfectly. I saw my father in the male character! Read more
Published 16 months ago by Miche
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read
This is an easy read and enjoyable. Levy tells the twin track stories - of her upbringing on an estate in Highbury in north London and the painful demise of the main character's... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Pelagius
2.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere near as good as "Small Island" - disappointing!
I had ready "Small Island" which is a brilliant, engaging and very interesting book. I expected this to be of a similar standard but found it really poor. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Wroe
5.0 out of 5 stars Really great read
I really enjoyed 'Small Island' so I searched for more Andrea Levy books. I came across Every Light in the House Burning and I am so glad I found it. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Debsij
4.0 out of 5 stars Good books worth reading
I bought this book for my daughter who loves reading interesting and thought provoking novels, and at such a reasonable cost, I can afford to purchase from amazon whenever I need... Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2012 by Counsellor
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