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Small Island

Updated on September 28, 2014

My Review of Small Island

This novel is a biopic of four lives affected by World War II. This story centers around the lives of four people who want to better themselves each in their own way.

In 1940s England, Queenie and Bernard Bligh are starting out in life together, but it's more of a convenience for Queenie but Bernard is in love. In Jamaica, Hortense Roberts has always dreamed of living in England and to get there, she makes a deal with Gilbert Joseph to get her off her small island.

This book is compelling, well written, and a glimpse of World War II and beyond. The lives revolve around another man that drifts in and out of the story, keeping it suspenseful and engaging.

Photo Credit: Amazon Small Island: A Novel

Small Island - Powerful Story of Personal Lifes in World War II

The Four Main Characters of Small Island

Small Island's four main characters follow:

Hortense Roberts, a Jamaican woman who has dreamed of leaving Jamaica for the Mother Country, England. She is proper and strives to speak well. Here's one example of her extreme use of proper English. She has just arrived in England and is at the doorstep of the house where Gilbert, her husband is living. "I have not seen Gilbert," I told her, then went on to ask, "but this is perchance where he is aboding?"

Gilbert Joseph is a young Jamaican man who served his country in the RAF during World War II. He is continually frustrated at the way he is treated both during and after the war for the color of his skin. He marries Hortense when she offers to pay his way to England after the war. As long as she can come along later.

Queenie Bligh is a young woman from a rural pig farm who escaped to her aunt's in London. When her aunt dies, Queenie resorts to marrying Bernard, a man in love with her, but who she barely tolerates. While Bernard is away during the war, Queenie takes in lodgers to earn money.

Bernard Bligh is a proper (stuffy) Englishman who is a tad wimpy and knows it. He has a secret and does not return home to Queenie when the war is over. For two years he hides out an hour away, but he finally returns home and all hell breaks loose.

In 2004, Small Island won Britain's Orange Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Book of the Year.

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Andrea Levy: Author of Small Island

Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents. She is the author of five novels:

~ Every Light in the House Burning (1995)

~ Never Far from Nowhere (1996)

~ Fruit of the Lemon (1999)

~ Small Island (2005)

~ The Long Song (2010)

Small Island won both the Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best and Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

Small Island World Book Night 2012

The novel Small Island was one of the 25 books to be part of the World Book Night 2012.

Small Island - Masterpiece Classic DVD

The movie Small Island follows the novel by the same name closely. Of course, there is no way for a movie to cover every thought and background detail provided in a book like this, but this movie by Masterpiece Classic was exceptional.

I read the book (finished it on a Friday night) then watched the movie the next morning. That is one of my favorite things to do!

Watch the Small Island Trailer

England - The Mother Country

Jamaica - Travel Books to Take You There

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!

Does Small Island sound like your kind of book?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I haven't read the book, but I thank you for sparking my interest more than a little. :)