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The Long Song [Kindle Edition]

Andrea Levy
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For fans of Solomon Northup's 12 Years a Slave.

From the critically acclaimed Andrea Levy, Orange Prize winning author of SMALL ISLAND, comes this breathtaking, hauntingly beautiful, heartbreaking and unputdownable novel, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and longlisted for the Orange Prize.

You do not know me yet. My son Thomas, who is publishing this book, tells me, it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within these pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed.

July is a slave girl who lives upon a sugar plantation named Amity and it is her life that is the subject of this tale. She was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and she was present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story tells also of July's mama Kitty, of the negroes that worked the plantation land, of Caroline Mortimer the white woman who owned the plantation and many more persons besides - far too many for me to list here. But what befalls them all is carefully chronicled upon these pages for you to peruse.

Perhaps, my son suggests, I might write that it is a thrilling journey through that time in the company of people who lived it. All this he wishes me to pen so the reader can decide if this is a novel they might care to consider. Cha, I tell my son, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just read it for themselves.

Product Description


'THE LONG SONG is is told with irresistible cunning; it is captivating, mischievious and optimistic, generating new stories and plot lines throughout the tale' (Daily Telegraph)

'Bittersweet and mischievous, Levy's keenly awaited new novel is worth the wait for all fans of her SMALL ISLAND' (Daily Mail)

'Slavery is a grim subject indeed, but the wonder of Levy's writing is that she can confront such things and somehow derive deeply life-affirming entertainment from them... Levy's aim, she says, was to write a book that instilled pride in anyone with slave ancestors and THE LONG SONG, though "its load may prove to be unsettling", is surely that book' (Sunday Telegraph)

'This is a terrific book: beautifully written and imagined, and full of surprises' (A. N. Wilson, Reader's Digest)

'As well as being beautifully written THE LONG SONG is a thoroughly researched historical novel that is both powerful and heartbreaking' (Daily Express)

'Thoroughly captivating' (Guardian)

'A novel such as SMALL ISLAND is a hard act to follow, but in her new book Levy has moved into top gear... She dares to write about her subject in an entertaining way without ever trivialising it and THE LONG SONG reads with the sort of ebullient effortlessness that can only be won by hard work' (Observer)

Beautifully written, intricately plotted, humorous and earthy... Those who enjoyed SMALL ISLAND will love THE LONG SONG, not just for the insights on the "wretched island", but as a marvel of luminous storytelling' (Financial Times)

'Levy brings her distinctive lightness of touch to what is otherwise unrelentingly bleak subject matter... This is a beautifully written and cleverly constructed novel that projects convincing personal relationships on to the feral backdrop of the Jamaican plantations' (The Times)

'Levy has a rare ability to channel the maelstrom of history into the most intimate of human dramas' (New Statesman)

'[Levy] has painted a vivid and persuasive portrait of Jamaican slave society, a society that succeeded with bravery, style and strategic patience both to outsmart its oppressors and to plant the seeds of what is today a culture celebrated worldwide' (New York Times)

'A tumultuous tale, superbly evoked' (Woman & Home)

'Levy has slipped through the cracks of history and beautifully animated a subject about which, on a human level, we know depressingly little' (Metro)

'A vivid, sometimes brutal and incredibly absorbing story' (Good Housekeeping)


'THE LONG SONG is simultaneously the life-affirming story of one woman's battle to survive in terrible circumstances, and a tribute to the legions of slaves who did more than suffer and die, but also managed to squeeze all they possibly could out of the bleakest of circumstances' -- Independent 'Told with irresistible cunning; it is captivating, mischievous and optimistic' -- Telegraph 'Levy has a rare ability to channel the maelstrom of history into the most intimate of human dramas' -- New Statesman

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1202 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0755359402
  • Publisher: Review (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0037472ZC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,513 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
185 of 192 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal but ultimately uplifting story 14 Feb. 2010
Despite the serious and at times harrowing subject matter, this book was a joy to read. Levy has created a wonderful character in the sassy, spirited Miss July, who narrates the story of her birth in a sugar-cane field and her childhood as a slave to the twittering, pompous plantation owner, Caroline Mortimer.

Her story is heartbreaking, but the touches of humour and pathos give the book a lighter feel than, for example, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, or Beloved by Toni Morrison. However, Levy doesn't shy away from portraying the savage brutality of slavery and the ignorance of the white settlers, who treat the slaves as commodities to be bought and sold (and the the case of the women, raped).

This is my fifth Andrea Levy book and I've enjoyed them all. Her first three concentrated on the experiences of young black women growing up in modern Britain, but Small Island and now The Long Song have seen her reaching back into black history and creating some wonderful stories. It would be wrong to pigeon-hole her as a writer who only deals with 'black' issues though, because her themes and characters have relevance and appeal right across the board.
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141 of 154 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a fantastic book that illustrates the cruel devastation that was the THREE HUNDRED YEAR OLD slave trade. Not since "Roots" has anything so moving been written. Three hundred years of beatings, unpaid back breaking work, women raped and impregnated by their massa's, pregnant women having to continue working in cane fields, giving birth in the very same cane fields and minutes later resuming work (their very survival depended on it), children ripped from their mothers and sold to other massa's. Grown men being beaten by their white massa's (male and female) and women abused by their massa's in front of their men folk - this is how the story opens and it must be said as it sets the scene for the rest of the story.

In spite of the brutality, the book highlights the sheer strength and defiance of the slaves. It is based around the story of a woman called July, who was born a slave on Amity plantation and lives through the turbulent years that led to its abolition. By page 95 things start to change but the struggle continues. The book is heartbreaking especially when you read how the light skinned slaves were fortunate enough to work in the house instead of the fields and the prejudice and ignorance amongst them that comes through. Although they were often the product of rapes, they saw their light colour as an advantage. The author also has the amazing ability to intersperse the story with funny events. I found myself howling with laughter to the point of tears as I read it on my way to work.

I salute Andrea Levy. I've read all of her books and all of them have touched me. As someone who is descended from slaves (my parents are Jamaican) it is particularly poignant and touching.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant characters, shocking but uplifting! 2 July 2011
I loved Small Island and this is the second Andrea Levy novel I have read - I loved this too!
A great insight into the age of slavery and a great story too. Miss July is a very memorable character that you feel you know and deeply care about.
I couldn't put this book down and read it from start to finish in about 4 days, which for me is fast!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 23 April 2011
Every now and then, you may come across a book that stays with you long after you read the last page. This is one such book.

It does not need a lengthy review; the five stars speak for themselves. I am just so very glad I stumbled across this book and this author.

It is quite simply a breathtaking, heart-breaking and unforgettable book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a delight... 7 Oct. 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Long Song is the latest of Andrea Levy's books but the first that I have read. Having finished it, all I want to do is get hold of everything that Miss Levy has written. The Long Song is simply a delight, the life and times of the canny, cunning and beguilingly cantankerous Miss July, a hearty if sometimes harrowing recounting of the last years of slavery in Jamaica. A busy schedule meant that I took more than a month to finish a little more than three hundred pages. But even if I had had the time to read, I would have delayed as much as I could - just to spread the pleasure of listening to a unique voice, telling a mesmerising tale. Really, a very good book indeed, a wonderful story highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different but good 26 Mar. 2014
Format:Audio CD
I have been listening to audiobooks in my car for months now and I love it, being told a story as I drive round is great. I listened to all of the Harry Potter's and then the Skulduggery Pleasant series, so mainly old favourites and books I wanted to re-read but didn't have the time for. Then I got to a point where my next book of choice hadn't arrived and I had nothing to listen to, my colleague at work pulled this off the shelf and said it was a really good book and that I should give it a go, so I did.

When I first started to listen to it I really wasn't sure, it's nothing like my usual kind of book and I wasn't sure if I would get on with it, but I decided to give it a fair try and my other book still hadn't arrived so I stuck with it.

This book follows first Miss Kitty as she works in the fields and then gives birth to a baby girl. From then on the story follows little July, who works by her mother's side in the fields until one day when she is 12 the new owner's sister arrives and decides she wants her as a house slave and takes her away. Brought up alongside Miss Mortimer, July learns to read and write and has some privileges other slaves don't have.

To be honest I didn't really know an awful lot about slave movements or Jamaica in general, but this story crafts the setting and events well and is actually quite a gripping tale. I don't know what it is that made me want to keep listening but I couldn't stop.

The book is read by the author herself on the audiobook and so she obviously knows how it should be read, she reads it in the proper accents, Jamaican being the main one but she does do quite a good English accent for Caroline Mortimer. She has one of those voices you can't help but listen to.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional book that stays with you long after it's finished.
I read this in Antigua, two and a half hours on a plane away from Jamaica, where The Long Song is set but still relevant to the sugar industry that thrived commercial in the past... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Doolah
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
really enjoyed the descriptions and story
Published 1 month ago by Alyson Pryse
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Disappointed with this book. I guess her 'SMALL ISLAND' said all she had to say
Published 1 month ago by joelvi
4.0 out of 5 stars I would definitely recommend this book
An enjoyable book which from memory was quite a long read but filled with twists. I would definitely recommend this book.
Published 1 month ago by Zennifer 40
5.0 out of 5 stars superb
A necessary story told with style and flair. Levy's narrative is beautifully crafted and skilfully woven. Gripping, moving and convincing.
Published 3 months ago by Georgie H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I loved this book!
Published 3 months ago by MoneyPenny
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read. I was transported and enjoyed every word. I shall miss...
I loved the language and characters and descriptions of the life on a sugar plantation. This was my first read by Andrea Levy and I will read more.
Published 3 months ago by Bec
5.0 out of 5 stars A very moving story
Beautifully written and very moving. Historically accurate even though fictional.
Published 3 months ago by Julie
3.0 out of 5 stars Oddly unmoving
The best thing about this book is the tone in which it is written. Levy adopts a folksy and (to my ears) somewhat stereotyped style with a Jamaican dialect and accent so as to... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Walter
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
just could not get into this book - never finished it.
Published 5 months ago by Anru
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