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Publisher's Summary

Small Island by best-selling author Andrea Levy won the Orange Prize for Fiction, as well as many other awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Whitbread. Now a major BBC drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris, its enduring appeal will captivate fans of Maya Angelou and Zadie Smith.

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh's neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn't know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all. What else can she do?

Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. It's desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door.

Gilbert's wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the golden city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was....

©2004 Andrea Levy (P)2015 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Wonderful...seamless...a magnificent achievement." (Linda Grant)
'A great read...honest, skilful, thoughtful and important.' ( Guardian)
"A cracking good read.... I think what appealed to me most was the passion and anger in the writing all the way through, yet it was always leavened with a particularly wry sort of humour - the sort that, tho' you find yourself smiling, you at the same time realise you almost shouldn't be." (Margaret Forster)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Bob Gibson
  • 09-11-2015

Terrific narration, compelling story

I don't generally write reviews, but this performance merits special notice. Andrea Levy, the author of this compelling story, is a first-rate narrator, presenting her several characters and accents with convincing accuracy. The dialogue is natural and engaging, and her Jamaican characters are voiced with the full musicality of their language. A real listening pleasure!

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  • Lydia
  • 20-07-2015

Fabulous Story with Excellent Narration

Where does Small Island rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Close to the top. The story is captivating.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the fact that the story is narrated by several different characters, each with a unique, and, at times, quite comical, perspective.

What about Andrea Levy’s performance did you like?

Ms. Levy breathed life into each quirky, fascinating character. She performed different accents extremely well.

If you could rename Small Island, what would you call it?

The Clash Echoes.

Any additional comments?

I strongly recommend this nook.

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  • Dolly
  • 01-10-2015

A breath taking saga.

I loved this audio book. I had chosen the book for my book group so listened to it after I'd read it.
I got so much more from it by doing this.
I was born in 1940 so was just a baby during the war and this was a real eye opener for me.
If ever Andrea Levy tires of writing she could surely earn a living with her talent for narrating!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 18-05-2016

A lovely easy to follow story

I found this a very enjoyable book to listen to, easy to follow with only a few key characters. The story develops over time in a very elegant way.

The narrator (also the author) was excellent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-06-2018

Best read yet!

From the start you're placed slap bang in the middle of it all and you cannot stop listening!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy Louise Sheppard
  • 08-04-2018

Loved the audio version

I struggled to read the book due to Dyslexia but liked the story so got the audio book. Brilliant! Really liked that the author is the one reading it.
I really enjoyed how the book was written with different characters narrating different parts.
I'd definately chose another book by the same author in the future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicholas Miller
  • 27-03-2018

Brilliant story, great narration

Brilliant story, great narration. Fascinating context and narrative, an insight into lives and attitudes around race and migration in war and post war England

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-07-2018

So enjoyable I didn't want it to end

Heartwarming story whose characters come alive with pathos, passion and humour. Reading is quite brilliant

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-07-2018

A book for every class room

In the present events of the Windrush victims, the war time generation soon disappeared and of our multicultural society, this books gives such a heartfelt joy, emotions and insight into people's lives, chances, coincidences and humble acceptance to what life throws us.
History wrapped up in a few wonderful characters and their fate.
A story so excellently written, told and read by a fantastic author and to be recommended to anyone reaching out for something very special.

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  • Clurr
  • 25-02-2018

Thought provoking and relevant

A moving, thoughtful account of immigration in Post War Britain as it affects four lives. Though we hear much from the men, it is the two women I felt drawn to and I think that's the intention. All is wonderfully read by the author herself, her rendering of regional and West Indian accents made the protagonists come alive. Levy doesn't shirk when it comes to building characters with all their failings and yet gives them dignity and sufficient personal and social backstory for us to understand and explore, even if we don't agree with, their prejudices. I really enjoyed it.

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  • amanda mutemasango
  • 06-12-2017

as a black man I didn't think I'll enjoy this book

I have listened to well done I can't wait to start reading of addition to this offer thank you

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  • MAGGS
  • 17-11-2017

Small Island - good storytelling 3 stars is good rating

Small Island - good storytelling 3 stars is good rating
Fascinating story very entertaining
Good narration