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3.9 out of 5 stars63
3.9 out of 5 stars
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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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on 19 July 2014
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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on 23 April 2015
Good page turner as you want to know what happens, which is revealed to you slowly. A good concept for a book, that a photo is just a snap shot of a fraction of a moment and does not truly tell what is going on and what happens before and after the moment and therefore does not tell a fraction of the story let a lone the whole story. If you like books with big revealing endings, this is not it but if you like stories which make you think about society, how people become the people they are and what influences tehir life choics then this will do that.
There were times when I was frustrated with the lead character but time reveals why he behaves the way he does.
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on 28 July 2015
Brilliant story, snapshot of 70s suburban life, subtly tackles the journey of first generation Brits...interesting how whites are ex-pats, minorities immigrants.
Shelley Harris conjures up images that are universally familiar, excellent plot with twists and turns upto the last word.
Got this as I'd loved Vigilante, will continue to follow this excellent author.
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on 26 August 2012
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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on 13 May 2014
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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on 4 March 2016
disappointing, it started well but didn't develop into anything to hold my interest. I finished it but found it very slow, tedious and boring. not for me
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on 17 June 2012
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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on 18 February 2016
Throughly enjoyed reading this book, made you think about racism and the effects a comment can have upon another person for years to come.
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on 9 April 2014
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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