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The Long Song: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010 Paperback – 6 Jan 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (6 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755359429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755359424
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'THE LONG SONG is is told with irresistible cunning; it is captivating, mischievious and optimistic, generating new stories and plot lines throughout the tale' (Daily Telegraph)

'Bittersweet and mischievous, Levy's keenly awaited new novel is worth the wait for all fans of her SMALL ISLAND' (Daily Mail)

'Slavery is a grim subject indeed, but the wonder of Levy's writing is that she can confront such things and somehow derive deeply life-affirming entertainment from them... Levy's aim, she says, was to write a book that instilled pride in anyone with slave ancestors and THE LONG SONG, though "its load may prove to be unsettling", is surely that book' (Sunday Telegraph)

'This is a terrific book: beautifully written and imagined, and full of surprises' (A. N. Wilson, Reader's Digest)

'As well as being beautifully written THE LONG SONG is a thoroughly researched historical novel that is both powerful and heartbreaking' (Daily Express)

'Thoroughly captivating' (Guardian)

'A novel such as SMALL ISLAND is a hard act to follow, but in her new book Levy has moved into top gear... She dares to write about her subject in an entertaining way without ever trivialising it and THE LONG SONG reads with the sort of ebullient effortlessness that can only be won by hard work' (Observer)

Beautifully written, intricately plotted, humorous and earthy... Those who enjoyed SMALL ISLAND will love THE LONG SONG, not just for the insights on the "wretched island", but as a marvel of luminous storytelling' (Financial Times)

'Levy brings her distinctive lightness of touch to what is otherwise unrelentingly bleak subject matter... This is a beautifully written and cleverly constructed novel that projects convincing personal relationships on to the feral backdrop of the Jamaican plantations' (The Times)

'Levy has a rare ability to channel the maelstrom of history into the most intimate of human dramas' (New Statesman)

'[Levy] has painted a vivid and persuasive portrait of Jamaican slave society, a society that succeeded with bravery, style and strategic patience both to outsmart its oppressors and to plant the seeds of what is today a culture celebrated worldwide' (New York Times)

'A tumultuous tale, superbly evoked' (Woman & Home)

'Levy has slipped through the cracks of history and beautifully animated a subject about which, on a human level, we know depressingly little' (Metro)

'A vivid, sometimes brutal and incredibly absorbing story' (Good Housekeeping)

Book Description

'Small Island is a hard act to follow, but in her new book Levy has moved into top gear' - Observer

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Top Customer Reviews

By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Feb. 2010
Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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By Boot-Boy VINE VOICE on 7 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
July was born into slavery on a sugar-plantation. In old age, matriarch to the family of her free and prosperous son, she relates her personal story of Jamaica in the lead up to and early years of emancipation. By timely coincidence, I’ve finished reading this on the same day I’ve attended a talk by Nicholas Draper, UCL researcher and author of ‘The Price of Emancipation’. The novel is enthralling, the characters empathetically drawn and believable, the story by turns funny, human, shocking and tragic. This is history we all need to know, brought vividly to life. My complaint is a minor one: I wanted to feel more. Although July’s desire to mask and downplay her past pain and anger is entirely believable, her archly mocking voice held me at a distance, preventing me (perhaps intentionally?) from fully investing in her. Far better so, it has to be said, than sentimentality or melodrama, so maybe a wise choice by Andrea Levy.
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