2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Strong on charm but lacking just a little in substance,
This review is from: Every Light in the House Burnin' (Paperback)
Oh no, not another sorry-the-vacancy's-been-filled tale of immigrant woe in post-War Britain, I hear you say. Well, that certainly wasn't the case with Small Island, the deserved winner of the 2004 Orange Prize, an ambitious, even-handed and moving look at life for Jamaicans in Britain during the War. Nor is it with Every Light in the House Burnin', the story of a Caribbean family living in 1960s north London, whose plot centres on the slow physical demise of the patriarch, the narrator Angela's father. This touching story, an odyssey through the British health system, is intercut with anecdotal memories of Angela's childhood. Written in a strongly autobiographical tone the novel oozes charm, is sensitive and humorous, but lacks just a little in substance. The experiences of Angela and her family could almost be those of any respectable working-class family of that time. They didn't differ much from my own - with one striking exception: the hurtful name-calling, sadly part of the rites of passage for many non-white immigrants to the UK and their offspring during that era.
By the time that Andrea Levy had penned Small Island she had matured into a fine writer and that book remains one of the best to come out of the UK in recent years. This novel was early practice.