Small Island by Andrea Levy

imageSmall Island by Andrea Levy was the book club read for November and one of which we were all in agreement that we enjoyed!  It was a refreshing change to read a proper novel after the disappointment of last months read.

I struggled with the last third of the book, mainly as this was focused on the character of Bernard, someone who most members decided was unlikeable, but was this done on purpose by the author?  Bernard was someone who sought status and considered himself higher than most due to being ‘that much older’ and it was even considered that he may be autistic.

A few of us were a little surprised in how the novel translated.  Having the impression that it would centre more around the Caribbean history and in fact  it was more about Queenie and Hortense.  It did give us an insight of the social history of immigrants coming into Britain  and the differing treatments of people before and after the war.  The sad thing was that in some respects this has not changed.  In particular the treatment of the Americans against the immigrants and the fact they were never allowed to inter mingle.

The author’s descriptions throughout the novel were incredibly moving and inventive and in parts simply exquisite and her choice of title for the novel fitted in perfectly with the image of Jamaica v Great Britain or was it to do it with the small minded attitudes?

The ending provoked a discussion, with part of the members feeling the giving up of the baby was a little too cliche or was it the right decision?  Whichever way, we thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

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