15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Believe the Hype!,
This review is from: Small Island: Winner of the 'best of the best' Orange Prize (Paperback)
Everyone I asked about the book could do nothing but tell me it was `very good'. This got me excited about the prospect of reading `Small Island' as well as worried; could the book really live up to the hype surrounding it or was I going to be disappointed as so many times before when reading a `5-star' book or watching a `must-see' film.
I was far from disappointed. This is a beautiful book!
Small Island is set around WWII, describing the lives of 4 people, who are all affected by the war in different ways.
Hortense, a black Jamaican woman, dreaming of her beloved Britain, unaware that Britain is not ready to embrace her.
Gilbert, also a black Jamaican, trying to provide for his wife and build a new life for himself in London.
Queenie, a white British woman, who paradoxically is liberated by the on-going war. Allowed to be something other than the wife of an utterly boring man. A man, it seems she was never really in love with.
And Bernard, a white British soldier stationed in India, taken away from the comfort of his daily routine.
It was interesting to read how being overtly racist was allowed and accepted within British and American society. It was particularly interesting considering the current controversy surrounding alleged racists remarks, throwing into question whether people have really moved on from the 1940's and 1950's and are more accepting of `difference' now. However, the author does not linger on the victims of racism or give a one-sided account, but instead demonstrates various characters' (black and white) strength to overcome prejudice and fight for acceptance and equality. More than a book about the past, it is a book about human interaction - the good, bad and beautiful.
I enjoyed every page and would say: Believe the hype and read the book.