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Jubilee [Hardcover]

Shelley Harris
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

29 Dec 2011

It is 1977, the Queen's Silver Jubilee, and a photographer captures a moment forever: a street party with bunting and Union Jacks fluttering in the breeze. Right in the centre of the frame, a small Asian boy stares intently into the camera.

The photograph becomes iconic, a symbol of everything that is great about Britain. But the harmonious image conceals a very different reality. Amid the party food and the platform shoes, the pop music and the punk, there are tensions in the Cherry Gardens community. As the street party begins, those tensions threaten to erupt.

Fast forward to the present and the boy, Satish, has become a successful cardiologist, saving lives, respected by those around him. But he is living with a secret. When Satish is asked to take part in a reunion of those involved in that Jubilee photograph, he must confront the truth about that day, and the events that changed the course of his life

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (29 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297864580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297864585
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 551,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shelley Harris was born in South Africa, emigrating to Britain at the age of six because of her parents' opposition to Apartheid. She has been a local journalist, a teacher, a filler of envelopes, an assistant in a wine shop and a bouncer at teenage discos. She lived in Paris for a year, on the sixth floor of a skinny townhouse, in the smallest flat she's ever seen.

Her first novel, 'Jubilee', is about an iconic photograph taken at a Silver Jubilee street party in 1977, about the boy at the centre of that photograph, and about the secrets he has kept hidden for thirty years.

When she's not writing she volunteers at her local Oxfam bookshop, where she loves helping customers find just the right book.

Photograph by Cath Harries.

Product Description


This is an exceptional, arresting novel which, by shifting skilfully from past to present with ever-increasing tension, highlights the traumatic effects of racism experienced in childhood, and addiction to prescription drugs in the medical profession... The book penetrates beyond the familiar arguments of political correctness to a darker world that needs to be drawn to the light. It makes you aware of how much things have changed in Britain since the last Jubilee, and how far we have travelled in our pursuit of a greater tolerance. (Clare Morrall, author of Astonishing Splashes of Colour and The Man Who Disappeared)

Jubilee is an assured debut by a writer of great promise. It's a sharply-written account of the birth pangs of multicultural Britain (Marcel Theroux)

The South African-born Harris came to Britain with her family in the 1970s and shows an acute understanding of how it feels to be an outsider...a welcome discovery - a new novelist whose next book you are already impatient to read (THE GUARDIAN)

Shelley Harris's remarkably assured debut novel is rooted in the Silver Jubilee celebrations of June 1977...shrewdly observed...The pitch-perfect children's banter and accurate period detail lead authenticity to her prose...an exciting debut that suggests this author will offer many more insightful and compelling stories in the years ahead (James Urquhart THE INDEPENDENT)

Boldly plotted and confidently executed, its momentum maintained to the end (DAILY MAIL)

Recreating an iconic photograph of a village street party celebrating the 1977 Jubilee stirs up buried memories, forcing the one Asian boy in the picture to confront himself and his past. Nostalgic and moving (WOMAN & HOME)

IN A NUTSHELL: A sinister secret is dragged into the spotlight after 30 years. PLOT: It's the Queen's Jubilee, 1977, and a photographer snaps an Asian boy at a street party. The photo becomes iconic, and years later the boy is asked to reenact it. Satish, now a successful cardiologist, refuses, but won't say why. Questions are asked and a secret he's kept all those years threatens to ruin his life. WHY READ IT?: Apart from reliving the days of punk and platforms, the suspense simply builds and builds (ESSENTIALS)

The genius of this novel is in the gentle way that the mysteries of the narrative unfold, fully immersing you in the story so that the twists and turns really do take you by surprise in a thoroughly refreshing way... Harris is a truthful writer, and does not shy away from representing the most deplorable sides of human nature. As a troubled and flawed anti-hero, Satish is all the more likeable and relatable to the everyman, and will have the reader laughing with joy and crying out with anguish as he attempts to confront his demons. [The novel] has a heart and soul, a strong moral - yet it never feels didactic, and deep down it fills you with a joyous sense of delight and satisfaction with every turn of the page (WE LOVE THIS BOOK)

Photographs capture a moment, but it is what went on before and after that drives this story. Satish becomes the symbol of an evolving nation when he is snapped at a Silver Jubliee party; but the damage done shapes him 30 years on as he struggles to maintain his family life (SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE)

Cardiologist Satish is settled with a family. But he is terrified of revisiting the past when a project is launched to reunite the subjects of a 1977 Silver Jubilee street party photo, of which Satish was the star. Racism, childhood relationships and hidden secrets are explored in Shelley Harris' debut novel (STAR magazine)

Shelley Harris's accomplished debut novel Jubilee follows the lasting effect of events at a 1977 Silver Jubilee street party (CHOICE magazine)

Set during the Silver Jubilee of 1977, with scenes from the hero's later life, this deft and moving debut offers more than Seventies nostalgia. A conflict-ridden street party proves a turning point for young Satish, from a family of Ugandan Asian refugees - and for his new community ('i' newspaper)

Book Description

A heartwarming and nostalgic novel set during a street party for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Snapshot of 70s Britain 5 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jubilee centres around a snapshot taken during a street party to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. The photograph becomes iconic, firstly because it features a small Asian boy and is held up as an example of multicultural Britain, and later when a punk bank use a pastiche of the photo on their album cover.

30 years later the photographer wants to recreate the moment with the original `cast' but gets mixed reactions from those involved, not all of whom want to remember the events of that turbulent day. The Asian boy, Satish, is now a successful consultant paediatric cardiologist and a happily married father of two. However, beneath the surface he is wrestling with demons of his own, and the thought of dredging up unhappy memories from his childhood does not appeal. Satish's family had fled to the UK from Uganda in the early 70s and at the time of the Jubilee were still struggling to establish themselves as British citizens. Their integration into the quiet Buckinghamshire street where the party takes place has not always been smooth, so tempers fray and hidden prejudices come to the fore as the residents of Cherry Gardens prepare for the big day.

The tension builds slowly and the pace overall is fairly sedate, with just one or two flashes of violence. Shelley Harris, who herself came to Britain as a child in the 70s, has successfully recreated a sense of time and place, and whilst there's a pleasing amount of retro detail, she has thankfully managed to resist laying on the nostalgic references with a trowel (which must be tempting with this sort of book). The novel is not about the Jubilee itself, but more about the subsequent lives of this disparate group of people who came together on 7th June 1977 to celebrate it. I found it a very interesting and perceptive debut novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, well written and thought-provoking 19 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Jubilee was a very entertaining read. I didn't check reviews before finishing the book, but I do agree that it could be a little difficult to become emotionally involved with Satish - more like watching with interest from the sidelines. The key issues of the plot were thought-provoking, especially getting to understand better what children like Satish would have had to cope with at that time from all generations of established white families. As the story alternated between 'then and now', occasionally I would begin a chapter and not be sure of the setting for a couple of paragraphs. At the same time it's no mean feat to skilfully dovetail two time frames, and this was really well done. I might have liked to get to know Satish's children a little better, with maybe an occasional illustration of how far our society has come in terms of happy integration, and Satish's reaction to that. So I 'do' care! Anyway, Jubilee is a very good read, and well recommended. I look forward to Shelley's next book, Vigilante, due out next year.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A street celebrates the Queen's Jubilee! 19 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was not very enthralled with this book. I think it is just a personal view. It did not really interest me, and I couldn't be bothered to become involved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love the 70's vibe! 13 May 2014
By Claire
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A real nostalgia read for me. Great structure and pace to it and its packed with REAL people. Best quote: 'That's the joy of history: its clear, backward glance.'
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 9 April 2014
By Kate
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Clever, easy to read, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it, as would most of my friends who had already read it before me.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic but falls at the final hurdle 11 Mar 2014
By Lorna
It's Jubilee Day 1977 & Satish & his street are holding a party to celebrate. A local newspaper photographer captures the moment & the photo becomes a part of the day. Now, 30 years on, the photographer wants to hold a reunion & recreate the famous shot but secrets from Satish's past & issues in his present leave him questioning whether or not to take part.
I really enjoyed the lashings of nostalgia in the 1977 portions of the book - having grown up in a similar street full of children from my school I could make connections with this part & found it spot on. However, I didn't really connect with the grown up Satish et al & when the final reveal of his big secret came I was a bit "Is that it?" I kept expecting it to develop further but it never did. The ending coming when it did was a disappointment & I would have liked more on the incident as opposed to the build-up of the day.
Saying that, it's an easy summer/beach read & good for a trip down memory lane.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars None 17 Jun 2012
By Cass
Format:Kindle Edition
Sorry to say.but i didn't like this at all.For me ,it just rambled on,and i'm just grateful i've finished. very slow and generally dull!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good pacing and detail 26 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was chosen by a member of my bookgroup for our "summer read" and I had to have two attempts to read it, as the first time it didn't grab me. At the second attempt, I really enjoyed it. I am exactly the right age to remember much of the "period detail" and enjoyed references to items and events I had forgotten. I thought the pacing and detail of the book were very good and enjoyed the way that details revealed in the earlier time period were later shown to have relevance in the later time period. I liked the character of Satish and was shocked by the casual racism he and his family experienced. My only criticism is that the morning leading up to the Jubilee party was very long and I found myself wondering when it would ever reach the party! Satish's encounters in later life with the people he had known in his childhood were well written, though perhaps a touch predictable, and the accounts of his addiction believable. I would recommend this book as a great summer read for all 40-somethings!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A very good read
Published 17 days ago by Miu miu Lin
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read
I found Jubilee a book that I could not put down. I read it immediately after Cuckoo's calling (the new book by JK Rowling) and found it just as good a read. Read more
Published 11 months ago by JaneT
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read for those that remember the silver jubilee!
We read this at my book club, as one of our members went to school with the author.
We all enjoyed the book, and agreed that it was well written. Read more
Published 14 months ago by J. Winter
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than A Celebration
A secret can shadow your whole life; it can make things grow out of perspective; it can lead to serious personal consequences. Read more
Published 15 months ago by M. J. Saxton
2.0 out of 5 stars Harder work than I anticipated
I was greatly looking forward to reading this, after reading the rave reviews, but actually found it hard work. Read more
Published 15 months ago by N. Timpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Deftly written.
An uncomfortably tense read. Satish's life unravels when a photograph taken on Jubilee Day 1977 resurfaces. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Angela C
5.0 out of 5 stars Past, Present & Future
A finely written piece of fiction, where a storyline from the past weaves expertly with the present day, while all the while pushing you to find out what will happen in the future. Read more
Published 17 months ago by E Webb
3.0 out of 5 stars Novel based around where I live!
Not a particularly inspiring bit of literature, but it was interesting to see how the author had written in the links to local places and to this village!
Published 18 months ago by Heathen
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