Friday, 1 October 2010

Andrea Levy - The Long Song - Man Booker Shortlist

This a wonderful lyrical book despite the seriousness of the content. A truly uplifting and empowering journey. It is set in Jamaica in the Nineteenth Century. July is a slave girl on a sugar plantation. This is a time of the last turbulent years as slavery is coming to the end, and 'freedom' begins. In this book we follow her life as she writes it down for her publisher son.
This sounds serious stuff but it is a very funny book, because Andrea brings to life her characters with such vibrancy and spirit that we laugh along as they mimic and comment on their so called masters. We marvel at how strong physically and mentally a woman such as July could be despite such disadvantages.
It is, of course, also sad, as the life of the slave is portrayed in all it's brutality, and we watch as freedom is hard won and still inequitable. I liked the link with the UK and the thought that, can we really know our own DNA and who we are descended from? Can any white English person be free from the legacy of slavery?

I found this book especially interesting to read so soon after The Help and feel they would be valuable to read on consecutive reading group meetings, there would be so much to talk about....

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