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A warm and wonderful book,
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This review is from: Every Light in the House Burnin' (Paperback)
This novel - Levy's first - is her semi-autobiographical acocunt of a couple, immigrants from Jamaica, bringing up their four English-born children on a council estate. The story is told by the youngest, Angela, and alternates between the story of her childhood and the slow death (from cancer) of her father, many years later.
The novel has all the warmth of Levy's later novels, and while there isn't a great deal of story, there doesn't need to be. Writing of this calibre doesn't require an exciting plot to keep it going; loveable characters, humour and emotion kept me gripped until the end of this delightful book. Dad always dresses in a suit for his work at the Post Office, and metes out punishments - sometimes qutie unjustifiably - to the children, who seem to take them in their stride. He does little on the domestic front, but always does the ironing. Mum, trained as a teacher back home, has to re-train to teach over here, and also looks after her family (this includes bizarre visits to the hairdresser's, to have all the girls' hair straightened). The two older girls, on the brink of adulthood, giggle and party and shock their father. Johnny, the only boy (and perhaps the one we get to know least) plays his part. But it is Angela who helps her mother towards the end; who tries to get hospice care for her father, watching in horror and bewilderment as he balloons out of recognition on his doses of steroids, and gradually loses all interest in the family around him as he moves towards the death that is inevitable, but about whose imminence no-one has been able to bring themselves to speak to him.
This book has everything I have come to expect from a novel by Angela Levy, and I loved it.