The Long Song

The Long Song

Paperback | April 12, 2011

byAndrea Levy

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You do not know me yet but I am the narrator of this work. My son Thomas, who is printing this book, tells me it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within its pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed.

July is a slave girl who lives upon a sugar plantation called Amity and it is her life that is the subject of this tale. She was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and she was also present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story also tells of July's mama, Kitty; of the negroes that worked the plantation land; of Caroline Mortimer, the white woman who owned the plantation; and many more persons besides—far too many for me to list here. But what befalls them all is carefully chronicled upon these pages for you to peruse.

Perhaps, my son suggests, I might write that it is a thrilling journey through that time in the company of people who lived it. All this he wishes me to pen so the reader can decide if this is a novel they might care to consider. Cha, I tell my son, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just read it for themselves.


 

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The Long Song

Paperback | April 12, 2011
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From the Publisher

You do not know me yet but I am the narrator of this work. My son Thomas, who is printing this book, tells me it is customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within its pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slav...

ANDREA LEVY was born in England to Jamaican parents. Her fourth novel, Small Island, won both the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best. She lives in London, England.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 8.25 × 5.29 × 0.84 inPublished:April 12, 2011Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143173952

ISBN - 13:9780143173953

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Customer Reviews of The Long Song

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Read. I often saw this book in it's hardcover format, but really had no idea what it was about. It's the story of Miss July, a young lady who grows to be a woman in 19th century Jamaica. She is born to a slave on a plantation in Jamaica, and eventually lives in the house on the plantation. She lives through and endures much tragedy -and yet gets through it all. This is the first book I've read by Andrea Levy -and I really appreciate her ability to write about sorrow and tragedy while not gettting bogged down in sentimentality, and even maintaining some levity. This was a wonderful, enthralling read -and I am now reading Andrea Levy's Orange Prize Winner, Small Island. I highly recommend this book, and if you enjoyed The Book of Negroes or The Kitchen House as I did - you will love this page turner too!
Date published: 2011-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a wonderful story! I loved it from beginning to end. The story is told by July as an old lady, prompted on by her son. The child of a field slave, the story is warm funny and sometimes shocking as freedom is given to the slaves, July's life suddenly changes. Great story and hated to see it end.
Date published: 2011-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read!! I totally fell in love with Kitty and July from the first page in. A woman who knows and owns her tongue as she herself says: “...is a woman possessed of a forthright tongue and little ink...or taking good words to whine upon...is neither prudent nor my fancy”. If you’re not interested in reading HER story the way SHE writes it, then she invites you to: “...be on your way for there are plenty books to satisfy if words flowing free as droppings that fall from the backside of a mule is your desire.” Now immediately you want to this THIS woman’s story!!! I simply adored the way Miss July speaks to us and calls us “Reader”. As you read along you feel as though she is speaking directly to YOU, that you are the ONLY person she is addressing her story too. Set in Jamaica, July is the child of a field slave living on the Amity sugar plantation. July lives with her mother but soon finds herself living in the great house and being renamed ‘Marguerite’ by the widow Caroline Mortimer who recently sailed from England after the death of her husband Edmund. July learns to read and write so she can help Caroline run the business and decides to stay on even after her freedom from slavery is granted. A wonderful relationship grows between Caroline and July as she knows how to handle the ever delicate Caroline. When Caroline became angry with July she would whack her on top of the head with her slipper, but to avoid it, July would jump, weave and spin to avoid her as she knew “...fatty batty” would soon fall in exhaustion into her daybed. This is a story of slavery, relationships, hardiness, freedom and above all, love. A great story for everyone!
Date published: 2010-07-02

Extra Content

Editorial Reviews

“Wickedly funny…. Levy’s careful research sets her vivid tale against a historical backdrop that … stealthily and indelibly etches itself onto the reader’s heart and mind.” - The Globe and Mail“This is a terrific book: beautifully written and imagined, and full of surprises… A brilliant historical novel.” - Reader’s Digest“The Long Song is above all the female version of emancipation, told in vivid, vigorous language in which comedy, contempt and a fierce poverty are at work … told with irresistible cunning; it is captivating, mischievous and optimistic, generating new stories and plot lines throughout the tale.” - The Telegraph“There is a fierce independence in Levy’s work and admirers who have been wondering what she will do next will not be disappointed…this is a beautifully written and cleverly constructed novel that projects convincing personal relationships on to the feral backdrop of Jamaican plantations.” - The Times (London)“As well as being beautifully written The Long Song is a thoroughly researched historical novel that is both powerful and heartbreaking. Andrea Levy may want to make some space on her mantelpiece. I’m guessing she could well need it later on this year.” - The Sunday Express“A novel such as Small Island is a hard act to follow, but in her new book Levy has moved into top gear… She dares to write about her subject in an entertaining way without ever trivializing it and The Long Song reads with the sort of ebullient effortlessness that can only be won by hard work.” - The Observer“Beautifully written, intricately plotted, humorous and earthy… Those who enjoyed Small Island will love The Long Song, not just for the insights on the ‘wretched island,’ but as a marvel of luminous storytelling.” - The Financial Times“July’s story…gallops along, full of humour and incident, linguistically fleet of foot and by turns illuminating and heartbreaking. As a story of suffering, indomitability and perseverance, it is thoroughly captivating.” - The Guardian (London)“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…. Levy’s sparkling voice is all her own.” - The Washington Post“Levy’s novelistic defense against evil and injustice is her humane sense of comedy…. In The Long Song, she has painted a vivid and persuasive portrait of Jamaican slave society.” - The New York Times“It’s a history that may be unfamiliar … but Levy’s novel, narrated in 1898 by a former slave named Miss July, makes it come alive with urgency and relevance…. With [July’s] fresh, pugnacious voice, Levy has us in her thrall…. Levy, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants who grew up in working-class North London, addresses racism at its ugliest and most virulent in this intricately imagined novel, creating a world in which little can flourish. The wonder is the spirit of indomitable dignity with which she manages to infuse her tragic tale.” - San Francisco Chronicle“Absorbing.” - The New Yorker“The Long Song is impeccably researched…. full of light touches and captures the rhythms of Jamaican creole beautifully…. Levy has a rare ability to channel the maelstrom of history into the most intimate of human dramas.” - New Statesman“An immensely readable and well-paced book…. [Levy] has a real gift for comedy.” - The Independent“A great novel.” - NOW Magazine“A distinctive narrative voice and a beguiling plot distinguish Levy’s [The Long Song].” - Publishers Weekly“An elegant allegory of storytelling . . . A subtly observed, beautifully written, structurally complex novel—an impressive follow-up to Small Island.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)“In the inexplicable absence of a definitive and revelatory history of Jamaica’s nearly 300 years of slavery, Levy gamely steps into the void with this lively and engaging novel…. Charming, alarming, Levy’s vibrant historical novel shimmers with all of the artifice and chicanery slave owners felt compelled to exert.” - Booklist“Sensational…. Levy’s handling of slavery is characteristically authentic, resonant and imaginative…. [A] masterclass in storytelling.” - The Sunday Telegraph“[A] vivid, sometimes brutal and incredibly absorbing story.” - Good Housekeeping“[A] complex and well-developed exploration of one woman's journey from slavery to freedom.” - Winnipeg Free Press“[A] gutsy, picaresque romp of a book…. Of course, it makes you furious about the cruelty of slavery. But it's also bawdy and very funny.” - Evening Standard