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Fruit of the Lemon [Paperback]

Andrea Levy
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

3 Feb 2000

A unique novel full of humour, wit and passion from Andrea Levy, critically acclaimed author of the Orange Prize winning SMALL ISLAND and the Man Booker shortlisted THE LONG SONG.

Faith Jackson fixes herself up with a great job in TV and the perfect flatshare. But neither is that perfect - and nor are her relations with her overbearing, though always loving family. Furious and perplexed when her parents announce their intention to retire back home to Jamaica, Faith makes her own journey there, where she is immediately welcomed by her Aunt Coral, keeper of a rich cargo of family history. Through the weave of her aunt's storytelling a cast of characters unfolds stretching back to Cuba and Panama, Harlem and Scotland, a story that passes through London and sweeps through continents.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (3 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747261148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747261148
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,983 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

Amazon Review

Andrea Levy writes with wonderful immediacy and liveliness in this, her third novel about the experience of being black in Britain. It's the late 70's and Faith Jackson's in a hurry - to loosen the hold of her loving but strict parents, to "go her own sweet way". At her new job as a dresser at Television Centre Faith negotiates the trip-wires of being black in often slyly witty, seemingly throwaway asides. But her parents' announcement that they might go home to Jamaica and a vicious racist National Front attack on a local bookshop, propels Faith into crisis.

Urged by her parents--"Child, everyone should know where they come from"--she goes to Kingston to stay with garrulous Auntie Coral. For Faith, it was her aunt's and cousin's rich and lively sequence of conversational storytelling's that 'wrapped me in a family history and swaddled me tight in its stories' - then released her into a new sense of self.

Fruit of the Lemon is an affectionate and absorbing narrative that makes its points about racism's effacements and brutalities with unforced but striking resonance. It offers us a voice of pleasurable yet gritty substance and significance: millennial Britain needs more like this. --Ruth Petrie --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


''Levy has a gift for creating character through mimickry, bu tnever succumbs to thepitgalls of sentiment masquerading as authenticity. This is a comic but sharp novel that steers its readers confidently through its heroine's revelatory journey' Times

Funny and moving... Levy is an ironic comedian whose subtle, intelligent novel steers well clear of whimsy (Guardian)

'Unflinchingly unsentimental, her writing is leavened with humour and warmth...entertaining and revelatory' (TLS)

'Written in an accessible, friendly style' Independent on Sunday

Reinforces Levy's reputation as an astute observer of modern British life (Financial Times)

Always refreshingly undogmatic...[readers] will recognise the truthfulness of the world which Andrea Levy describes (Sunday Telegraph)

'Levy has a gift for voices...a thoughtful comment on racism and the importance of knowing where you are from' (The Sunday Times)

'Bright and inventive' (Independent)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fruit of the Lemon 24 Aug 2005
Excellent book Andrea Levy has such a good ear for dialogue. She tells such a moving story with wit and makes you care for all the characters. I couldn't put it down.
I was given this book for a birthday present and have now bought it for lots of people; and I'm now reading all her other books.
The characters are so believable and real.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Home and Family Stories 24 April 2003
By A Customer
The protagonist in this novel, Faith, is a British girl, born of Caribbean parents who came to England from Jamaica on the Jamaica Producers' banana boat. The emphasis on Faith's life with her friends changes when her parents decide to return to Jamaica to retire. When Faith suffers from a breakdown, it is decided she should stay with her aunt, Coral, in Jamaica for a holiday. The narratives alternate between Faith's life in England and the stories related by her family members, and as the novel progresses, the family tree goes further back as she learns more of her parents' lives and her own history. After feeling out of place at first she learns to adapt saying "they laid a past out in front of me. They wrapped me in a family history and swaddled me tight it its stories". A very enjoyable book, focusing on identity and homeland.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Family Tale 10 Mar 2006
I think the strength of Andrea Levy is her ability to bring generations and thier interdependance (whether concious or otherwise) to life.
Her ability to show the weaknesses and strengths of our multicultural society with its moments of ugliness juxtaposed with its moments of colour blindness highlights both where our country has come from and where it is headed without rancour or bitterness.
This book is not just a great entertaining novel it is a book that brings to the fore the feelings and thoughts of anyone who is the child of immigrant parents.
Important social comment entertainingly told
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's Done It Again! 29 Mar 1999
By A Customer
A simply told story that was a joy and a revelation to read. It made me laugh and go quite inside with recognition. These unfolding 'untold' stories of generations of a Jamaican family, and the central characters own search are wonderfully woven together. This was my story...and I wanted to read it out loud to everyone that knows (or thinks they know) me! I always enjoy Andrea Levy - and with this novel she moves on from strength to strength.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best so Far 8 April 1999
By A Customer
Waited ages for this to come out in paperback and it wasn't a disappointment. I only discovered Andrea Levy late last year, but boy can this woman write. Her books are totally unputdownable and just sweep you along with them. I just hope that there are many more to come, as she is reaching great maturity in her writing. The characters are very believeable and the plot is very straightforward, giving you ample time to wallow in the descriptive detail, which brings the everyday and mundane to life. Keep them coming, Andrea.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing! 31 July 2007
Ah, how I appreciate and enjoy Andrea Levy's work!

The lady writes beautifully, and, brings what I can only describe as "a cinematic eye" to her often subtle and unforced observations of characters, and, unerringly accurate and believable depiction of situations. There are too many moments to point out, but, I laughed at her gentle description of the protagonist Faith's parents, and, their love of collecting boxes of every kind and variety. I nodded my head in recognition of the scene where Faith visits a pub in the English countryside, and, encounters an individual who appears to have a problem understanding the not too difficult concept that a black person can actually be born in England! I myself have met quite a few such people....

It lightened and gladdened my heart to read about characters with whom I could so readily identify. The details of the protagonist, Faith Jackson's story, dovetail in many delicious ways with my own.

One of the important and little acknowledged issues that Andrea Levy brings to the fore with matter of factness and lack of fanfare is that of being accepted in your place of birth; of being seen to belong. Faith although born in England encounters situations (see above) where this is clearly not the case. Instead she is viewed as "foreign" and "other" by those who clearly associate black skin with "coming from somewhere else".

In light of this, one of the ironies revealed by her Jamaican relatives' patient and often loving recounting of family stories, is that she has white English, Irish and Scottish forebears. This echoes again in some ways much of my own Jamaican family background, and, isn't at all unusual, although I can imagine it may come as a surprise/shock to many white Britons.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opinions of Bea 23 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy was a close cousin of her 'Small Island' best seller. The style and language engaged the reader very well and some of the description of the culture were very well set out. The two halves of the book - first in U.K the second in Jamaica did not fail to show the extremes of behaviour and the reader could pick up the history of the family. The second half was a little repetative of language and behaviour but I enjoyed reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly Disappointing 9 April 2013
After Small Island I was looking forward to reading another novel by Andrea Levy, but as the title of this review points out I was "sadly disappointed".

The protagonist ambles along through life with no real opinions and ideas of who she is and then goes back to her roots in Jamaica for some enlightenment. The premise is good and sounds as though it will be much better than it actually is.

Sloppily written and boring to read. Can't be bothered to choose a more sophisticated adjective than that. Boring!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fruit of the lemon
I enjoyed Andrea Levy's Small Island and decided to read this and it did not disappoint. I find the style of writing is as important as the story line and she's got style! Read more
Published 1 month ago by veronica
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating novel.
Rather different in some ways from the other novels of Andrea Levy as the struggles were more internal. Read more
Published 6 months ago by lindsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab!
A good read-this book was a page turner and had me laughing all he way through. Excellent author who has a way with words. I highly recommend!
Published 8 months ago by Gillian
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Andrea Levy's books
Have read them all now and they haven't disappointed. Love her insight into the immigrant experience in the UK. Always love her characters.
Published 11 months ago by KKANAGES
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read
This is the first novel I have read by Andrea Levy and it was a revelation to me. It had me laughing and but tinged with sadness and gave me a real feeling of nostalgia my own home... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Scarlet
3.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Jamaica a little
Very atmospheric loved the characters insight to Jamaica and Jamaicans interesting to learn the history of plantation owners to modern times
Published 15 months ago by Lesley Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age novel in the sun
I love a book which starts with a family tree and this one does. The family tree is very small at the beginning and gradually expands as Faith, the main character, finds her... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Janie U
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you
Very impressed arrived next day in fantastic condition enjoying the book chosen for book club but not as good as long song
Published 17 months ago by Tiger
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too bad
Not the normal book that I would read, but took a punt as it was a winner of the orange prize and Whitbread prize. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious Read
This could have been an excellent novel, but fell far short of that due to the tedious nature of the narrative. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2012 by Amazon Customer
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