Thursday, July 29, 2010

Small Island by Andrea Levy

Small Island begins with a chapter about Post-War London and Hortense, a Jamaican bride, arriving in London to meet her husband whom she married but hasn't seen for six months. The reunion is quite a tale.

The book then moves back to the time period at the beginning of Hortense's life as a child, her life in teacher college, her life as a teacher and then how she met Gilbert....the way Hortense and Gilbert meet and decide to get married is amusing.

Gilbert is not the most reliable man, though. He has big ideas about making money, which he needs to get a boat to London, but his schemes never amount to much money. Gilbert arrives in London first and tells Hortense he will send for her when he is settled. Gilbert had been in the RAF and knows what it is like to live in London....Hortense isn't as keen on "the way the English live." Gilbert and Hortense were the main characters at the beginning, and then Hortense "falls" out of the book for a while and Gilbert and Queenie take center stage.

The story continues and tells about the lives of the four main characters before and after the war....Queenie, Hortense, Gilbert, and Bernard....their lives are interesting and complicated. The characters grow on you, and you get caught up in their life stories and are eager to see what happens next and at times hope for a different outcome.

Queenie was my favorite character. You will find a favorite character as well as you get absorbed in their pre- and post-war stories.

The book brings to light how immigrants were treated and viewed during Post-War in England. It was an education into how and what went on during that period in history.

At first it was a little difficult to get completely into the book...at times it was just plain confusing, but Andrea Levy has fantastic descriptions of the characters as well as the era. Very profound book. It also makes you laugh out loud at some of the things that happen and some of the things the characters say.

The book is a little slow at the beginning, but as you continue it draws you in and you "need" to know what happens next. The chapters are divided into sections for each character to tell his/her story.

Just as the book BEGINS, it ENDS with Hortense's story. Hortense became my favorite character as you got to know her better...she was sweet, trusting, and very likeable.

Andrea Levy is an excellent author and storyteller.

I really enjoyed the content even though I was confused at times.....4/5 for interest, but 5/5 for the historical aspect and explanation of the Post-War Era in London

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