Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: The Long Song

The horrors of chattel slavery are described in stark relief in Levy's fictional life story of a nineteenth-century Jamaican woman. Miss July, born into slavery, lives through some of Jamaica's most tumultuous events: warfare, emancipation, and the difficult transition to free labor. Miss July has endured more tragedy than most modern readers can comprehend: pulled away from her mother as a child, only to see her mother executed in the wake of a slave rebellion, Miss July's own child is given away. Ultimately Miss July finds herself in love with a dangerous white man. This book brings the horrors and brutality of slavery into full relief. It also shows how slave ownership corrupts slave owners, as we see two Britons become slave masters. This book is an accomplished family epic. It is a novel deep with emotion, and one that recreates a thoroughly believable nineteenth-century Jamaica. This is a world of tremendous violence and exploitation, yet one in which we still see tremendous human tenderness. I thoroughly enjoyed Levy's earlier novel, Small Island, and was not disappointed by my second foray into her work.

Andrea Levy, The Long Song (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010) ISBN: 0374192170


Hannah Stoneham said...

This sounds marvellous. I lived in Trinidad for a short time so am particuarly interested in slavery literature - thank you for bringing this to my attention


Anna said...

Sounds like a powerful novel. I've heard good things about this author, so I'll definitely keep this one in mind.

Diary of an Eccentric