"The Long Song" by Andrea Levy

Born to a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in Jamaica, July spends her days with her mother in the cane fields. This is until a recently transplanted English widow decides to take eight-year-old July from her mother, move her into the great house, rename her Marguerite and make her a lady's maid. July spends her days taking care of her mistress and remains close to her throughout the Baptist War and eventually, the end of slavery. Even when granted her "freedom" July remains on the plantation with her mistress. But when her mistress leaves the island along with July's lover and young child, she finds herself on her own and starting over as a free woman.

The Long Song is an incredible tale of slavery in Jamaica. It encompasses all of the heartbreak, horrors, and tragedies of slavery and yet is a tale of love, determination and resilience. It is told from the perspective of July later in her life, recounting her story as her son has asked her to do. The book jumps between July's present and past but is easy to follow. In the present July speaks directly to the reader. In the past, any dialogue spoken by the slaves is done in Jamaican patois. However, this is pretty easy to understand for the non-Jamaican and only adds to the richness of the story.

At times it does feel as though some characters or emotions are not as fully developed as they could be. However, the book seems honest in its writing of the characters and rather than using the stereotypical master or slave, it gives a wider portrayal of those involved.

The best thing about this book is it is told in a believable, authentic Jamaican voice. It is written in the style of Jamaican story-telling and this gives the story a rich voice and truly brings it to life.


  1. The premise of this story sounds intriguing. Thank you for sharing....

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  3. I def want to read this! I listened to an interview with the author - she was actually discussing her first book - she sounded so interesting that I know I would enjoy one of her books!

    thanks for the review!

  4. Her first novel "Small Island" did really well. I have read some reviews though that say you should read Long Song before Small Island, otherwise you might be slightly disappointed with Long Song because Small Island was so good.

    Long Song is so good I would recommend reading it first then, I wouldn't want anyone to feel disappointed with it!

  5. THanks for the review - I received a copy of the book in the mail a while ago but haven't had time to read it yet.


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