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An excellent dramatic fiction on few people's lives during WW2


engaging, storyline, also film on it, literature

long, boring in parts

Recommendable Yes:

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12 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (75%):
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helpful by (25%):
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  2. noodlebutty
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Small Island is a dramatic novel written byh Andrea Levy set in Post World War Two and World War Two, following the lives of three main characters; Queenie, Hortense and Gilbert. The chapters vary but they are split into before and the current World War Two time, they are also from the characters point of views including Bernard (Queenie's husband). In my opinion, this first person effect is a good effect as it demonstrates a certain realism and engages you within it.


Queenie is a female born into a male dominated family, the men in her family work on the farm and she helps her mother. Her family is quite upper class but right from the beginning we see that she is different from most of the British people in the novel as she aknowledges African people. We instantly see that she is very brave as her brother dies. She goes to live with her aunt who teaches her to speak properly and as she dies she marrys off to a customer, Bernard. She then lives with her new husband and his father. However, her relationship with her husband does not appear very loving.

Hortense is born into a middle class African family and she is brought up by her Uncle and Auntie. We see her fall in love with her cousin, Micheal who she then finds out had an affair with a married woman, who she works for. Micheal is then sent off to the RAF and Hortense goes to a teaching college where she makes a specific friend. Micheal is then listed as missing in action, this is when irony is truly brought in at the end.

Gilbert is from quite a working class African background and he joins the RAF. He meets Hortense's friend but eventually ends up marrying Hortense. He says he will send for her in six months when he is settled so he goes back to England and lives with Queenie.

Bernard signs up for the RAF before he gets called up but whilst he is away his father is shot. Queenie has an affair with Micheal and there is definitely an attraction between them but he has to leave to go back to the RAF but he leaves behind his wallet.

When Hortense eventually arrives in England she is stunned at the state of the house she will be lodging in and that she does not have her own house.

--My Opinion--
In my opinion, it is quite long so in parts it did get slightly boring but it was very intriguing throughout and I just wanted to know what would happen in the end. It did not help that I had seen most of the film but not the end.

In conclusion, this book may take you a while to read but it is quite worth it and I would recommend it to anyone. It is a great example of modern literature and the struggle for modern identity. Levy's writing is sophisticating and engaging and it certainly captivates you. For more assistance, I would recommend you also watch the film as it is quite similar to the novel.
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Comments about this review »

Novabug 07.01.2011 22:21

A little more personal opinion would be great. :)

blissman70 07.01.2011 22:12

a fine review indeed

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Product Information »

Product details

Type Fiction
Genre Romance
Title Small Island
Author Andrea Levy
ISBN 0312424671; 0755307496; 075530750X; 0755307518; 0755325656; 1843954931

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This review of Small Island - Andrea Levy has been rated:

"very helpful" by (75%):

  1. Amy69
  2. TheHairyGodmother
  3. sghawken

and 6 other members

"helpful" by (25%):

  1. thedevilinme
  2. noodlebutty
  3. Novabug

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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