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186 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal but ultimately uplifting story
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...
Published on 14 Feb 2010 by Denise4891

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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I had read and heard a lot of positive things about this novel before I bought it, and I was intrigued to see what Levy had to say about slavery, as well as the fact that reviews I had read indicated that she had a fresh approach and a lyrical way with words on the subject. I was hopeful that this book would be truly wonderful. I have to say that I was...
Published on 11 Mar 2011 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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186 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal but ultimately uplifting story, 14 Feb 2010
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Long Song (Hardcover)
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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140 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 300 years of human cruelty told in brutal honesty, 4 Feb 2010
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This review is from: The Long Song (Hardcover)
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. The slave trade like the many stories of war, human cruelty and genocide should never be forgotten. Slaves were forbidden from reading and writing so those that could have documented their story are now long gone and there were no videos and cameras around to capture these stories. Nonetheless, it is a very important era in world history, it's reach was far and wide. I personally believe that much of the societal afflictions prevalent in African Caribbean and African American cultures today (particularly around relationships and family structure) are as a direct result of slavery, this is my own opinion and observation but when all is said and done, that's a different story altogether.

The book cuts deep but the author does an amazing job of keeping the reader gripped from the very first page. Absolute work of art !!!
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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
By 
This review is from: The Long Song (Paperback)
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
By 
J. Thomas "Lost&Found" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Long Song (Paperback)
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
By 
Boot-Boy (Gloucestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Song (Hardcover)
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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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the hardback!, 27 Feb 2010
By 
Diane (Sheffield England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Long Song (Hardcover)
This book is beautifully presented and well worth the cost of the hardback.
The story is stunning. As with all of Andrea Levy's books the sense of a shared humanity runs through the story with the characters seeming very real and a balance of horrendous events and moments of humour. As with all good novels it is extremely hard to leave behind when you finish reading. I loved the fact that the story was written from the point of the view of the main protaganist many years after the events and the interplay between July and her son which link the different sections of the story give the narrative a feel of a retelling of real events rather than a novel. I was left wondering what had happened to July's daughter and would love to read her story! I can't recommend it highly enough.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A humane and uplifting book...., 1 April 2010
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Long Song (Audio CD)
Andrea Levy's latest book is a joy! An old Jamaican woman, July, recounts her life at the behest of her son. She tells of her childhood on the Amity plantation, of slave uprisings and how slavery ended. We learn about how she was conceived, how she became separated from her mother and about her life as a house slave. We are not spared the cruelties of the slave-owners and their disregard for the people in their possession. There are some truly horrific episodes described in a direct and matter-of-fact way. But what makes the narrative so impressive is how the character of July shines through. She often addresses the reader directly and tells us that she thinks we now know enough about what happened. She also complains constantly about her son (whom she obviously adores) - she says that he forgets to bring her new writing supplies and sometimes criticises what she has produced. In this way the reader learns that July sometimes embroiders her story and tells it as she would have liked it to happen.

It goes without saying that the whole slavery industry in the West Indies was cruel in the extreme and the ill effects of it remain to this day. But this is no "misery memoir". The slaves themselves learn to be overtly submissive but all the time they are scoring small victories..... bottles of rum are stolen, buttons from the mistress's blouse are pocketed and instructions to use the best Irish linen tablecloth are ignored (and a stained bed-sheet is used instead!) Levy doesn't shirk from some of the unpleasant truths. Lighter skinned slaves (usually occurring following a rape) feel superior to their dark skinned fellows. ("Me no n*****, me a mulatto!")

The audiobook was lovely to listen to. Adrian Lester (as her son) reads the first and last chapter and the rest is narrated by Andrea Levy. Quite unusual for an author to read their own book but she is magnificent - and made me wonder if she had done any acting.

A humane and uplifting book - highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different but great, 24 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Long Song (Kindle Edition)
This was a powerful story and well written. The characters felt real and held your attention. Andrea Levy has an exceptional way of holding your interest. I have read several of her novels and never been disappointed
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The long song, 3 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Long Song (Kindle Edition)
A very entertaining, thought-provoking story. The language is colourful and sets the scene firmly in the Caribbean. A little bit sketchy certain areas but not too much to distract from the tale.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must, 7 Feb 2011
By 
Yeti (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Long Song (Hardcover)
A must read for everyone. Everyone should know what is was like in the time when slavery was considered "normal" and the slaves were considered to be a lower form of life. Andea Levy is an excellent writer, and I thank her for enlightening me with this wonderful book!
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The Long Song
The Long Song by Andrea Levy (Paperback - 6 Jan 2011)
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