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The Long Song: A Novel by Andrea Levy

The Long Song: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Andrea Levy (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,0857211,602 (3.65)1 / 304
Title:The Long Song: A Novel
Authors:Andrea Levy (Author)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2010), Edition: 1, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Tags:Booker prize, 19th century, historical fiction, racism, slavery, carribean

Work details

The Long Song by Andrea Levy

  1. 10
    The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (vancouverdeb)
    vancouverdeb: Similar themes: black slaves, a young woman who works within the "White Master's" Plantation house.Slavery,Freedom from slavery; both wonderfully written. Divided loyalities, a fiesty female slave.
  2. 10
    Someone Knows My Name: A Novel by Lawrence Hill (legxleg, JenMDB)
    legxleg: Both are stories of women who are born slaves and live through long periods of history.

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English (66)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Disappointment. Loved Island book ( )
  c_why | May 21, 2019 |
Bleh! Loved Small Island, but this was nowhere near as good, or as well written. Did not enjoy the time spent reading this. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Wonderful read. She opening ( )
  ibkennedy | Jul 31, 2018 |
This month’s book The Long Song by Andrea Levy has started us off in great style with a stimulating discussion, on the book itself and the many issues found within.

We could all be forgiven for our first reaction, ‘another story of slavery’. We have read plenty covering this topic over the years, but as all good book clubs do, we uncovered more than the usual heartbreak and injustice … humour being a major contributor to our club’s enjoyment.

This is not to say we felt the author took her theme lightly. It is more the narrative approach, that of July, in her impatient, slightly defiant senior’s voice that had us chuckling through this biographical memoir that her son has persuaded her to write. The tricks and antics of her forbearers revealed comic insubordination and rebelliousness that is rare in a slavery novel.

However, we did have some conflicting opinions. Nancy read on only through a feeling of guilt, … she should feel empathy and remorse, yet the book left her with no such feelings, and she found the narrative tiresome. Tera could remember little about the story, yet she did remember enjoying the subtle humour, and Anne again was left with nothing more than a few notes that she jotted down simply to keep track of who was who, and what was what.

But overall the comments were positive. It was thought to be a well researched and beautifully told novel. Clever and possibly written for the screen. Viti and a few others would have liked a little more historical background of the place and time, but we all agreed the purpose of the story was more in the form of a personal account of native Jamaicans and plantation slavery.

Regardless which view point you took, we ended up discussing social and economic wealth and distribution, historical and contemporary injustices and what they all mean today. Not bad for the start of a new year.

Levy’s previous books have all been noted down for further reading. Always a good indication with our group! ( )
  jody12 | Jan 27, 2017 |
I wanted this to be Small Island so much I think I can't be completely fair to it. The British reviews have been great - but I have been slightly disappointed with this book about slaves and slave culture in Jamaica. honestly, i think it's my problem, more than the book's. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Daarvoor is ’Het lange lied’ een te menselijk verhaal, over vrouwen en kinderen die weten te overleven in tegenspoed, die leven en liefhebben, die geboren worden en sterven onder de heldere zon, omringd door de weelde van de tropen. Thomas, zoon van de verteller en trots op (maar niet verblind door) zijn Engelse opvoeding, drukt het zo uit: „De enige troost voor het geleden onrecht is de volledige waarheid”. Dat wil zeggen: een onsentimenteel portret van een gebroken samenleving, waarin de fouten van degenen die eerst tot slavernij en daarna tot armoede veroordeeld waren net zo eerlijk en met net zoveel sympathie worden beschreven als die van hun onderdrukkers. De slavenbezitters zijn vooral gênant als persoonlijkheid, niet als vertegenwoordigers van een bepaald volk of natie.
added by PGCM | editTrouw, Amal Chatterjee (May 8, 2010)
As is inevitable in any book about slavery, this novel is confronting. And at times it is almost unbearable to witness the attitudes of the plantation owners.
In The Long Song, Andrea Levy explores her Jamaican heritage more completely than ever before. This sensational novel – her first since the Orange Prize-winning Small Island...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. July emerges as a defiant, charismatic, almost invincible woman who gives a unique voice to the voiceless, and for that she commands affection and admiration. 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.

Andrea Levy's insightful and inspired fifth novel, "The Long Song," reminds us that she is one of the best historical novelists of her generation....Levy's previous novel, "Small Island," is rightly regarded as a masterpiece, and with "The Long Song" she has returned to the level of storytelling that earned her the Orange Prize in 2004. Her heroine narrates the beginning of the end of slavery in Jamaica, coming to a climax with the 1831 Baptist War, when enslaved men and women fought their enslavers for 10 days. It's clear that Levy has done her research, but this work never intrudes upon the narrative, which travels at a jaunty pace. Levy's sly humor swims just under the surface of the most treacherous waters
Slavery is a subject that has inspired some magnificent fiction (think of Toni Morrison's Beloved or Valerie Martin's Property), but I had some misgivings: might it not, in this case, make for over-serious writing, especially for a novelist as comically inclined as Levy? But 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.....The heart of the novel is July's description of the ménage à trois between Caroline, herself and Caroline's newly acquired English abolitionist husband, Robert. You despise, pity and almost – but never quite – sympathise with Caroline. On first arriving in Jamaica, she appears a twit – yet with a lively curiosity

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The book you are now holding within your hand was born of a craving.
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Lezer, ik moet u iets opbiechten. Leg uw oor dicht tegen deze bladzij. Nog iets dichterbij. Want ik voel me genoodzaakt om vrijuit en oprecht te spreken over het hoofdstuk dat u zojuist hebt gelezen. Luistert u, lezer? dan zal ik u het volgende onthullen: over het algemeen gedroegen blanke mannen op dit eiland in de Cariben zich niet zo.
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from Amazon com : A distinctive narrative voice and a beguiling plot distinguish Levy's fifth novel (after Orange Prize–winning Small Island). A British writer of Jamaican descent, Levy draws upon history to recall the island's slave rebellion of 1832. The unreliable narrator pretends to be telling the story of a woman called July, born as the result of a rape of a field slave, but it soon becomes obvious that the narrator is July herself. Taken as a house slave when she's eight years old, July is later seduced by the pretentiously moralistic English overseer after he marries the plantation's mistress; his clergyman father has assured him that a married man might do as he pleases. Related in July's lilting patois, the narrative encompasses scenes of shocking brutality and mass carnage, but also humor, sometimes verging on farce. Levy's satiric eye registers the venomous racism of the white characters and is equally candid in relating the degrees of social snobbery around skin color among the blacks themselves, July included. Slavery destroys the humanity of everyone is Levy's subtext, while the cliffhanger ending suggests (one hopes) a sequel.
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The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in Jamaica, July lives with her mother until a recently transplanted English widow decides to move her into the great house and rename her. She remains bound to the plantation despite her "freedom." The arrival of a young English overseer dramatically changes life in the great house.… (more)

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