The Long Song

The Long Song

Book - 2010
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Small Island introduced Andrea Levy to America and was acclaimed as "a triumph" ( San Francisco Chronicle ). It won both the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and has sold over a million copies worldwide. With The Long Song , Levy once again reinvents the historical novel.

Told in the irresistibly willful and intimate voice of Miss July, with some editorial assistance from her son, Thomas, The Long Song is at once defiant, funny, and shocking. The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her "Marguerite."

Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Together they live through the bloody Baptist war, followed by the violent and chaotic end of slavery. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her "freedom." It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress. Prompted and provoked by her son's persistent questioning, July's resilience and heartbreak are gradually revealed in this extraordinarily powerful story of slavery, revolution, freedom, and love.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2010.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780374192174
Characteristics: 313 p. ; 24 cm.


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WVMLStaffPicks Sep 10, 2014

In rich, musical prose Levy tells the story of the quick-witted and courageous July, a mulatto house slave living in 19th century Jamaica before and after the abolition of slavery. Though she has written an entertaining farce, this gifted author takes this turbulent history very seriously and never trivializes the cruelty slavery and its legacy imposed on individuals.

Feb 06, 2014

A wonderful portrait of Jamaca at the end of slavery and the life of slaves at that time. Well worth my time to read it.

Jan 14, 2014

Enjoyed this one - a sharp reminder of the brutality and injustices of slavery, engagingly written.

Jul 29, 2012

A book about slavery. The forward and afterward seemed a little artificial but otherwise a good book.

Jul 27, 2012

I really liked this book. The voice of the storyteller drew me in and i wanted more.

Jun 30, 2011

I enjoyed this story, which is surprising,as I find it difficult to read about cruelty. The Authors choice of Narrator (JULY) is a good one.The interruptions made by July thru out the story to make a comment or to just speak to the reader helped me to continue turning the pages.

May 26, 2011

Like Levy's award-winning book ?Small Island' Jamaica is the setting of this new book. July's son Thomas wants her to write a memoir of her life in the 1840s as slavery was abolished in England and her colonies.

July is a wonderful character, a survivor in a world where cunning and deceit were required to navigate a very uncertain existence. Stylistically Levy's book is a triumph of storytelling and memoir making, taking lives about which very little is known and bringing it to life. No wonder this book was nominated for the Man Booker prize this year. It fulfills on many levels.

Jan 14, 2011

Interesting format - son editing Mothers writing.
set in slave emancipation era

debwalker Dec 08, 2010

A Jamaican’s enslavement.

Nov 23, 2010

The Long Song
by Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy is a british author born in England from Jamaican parents. She is the winner of the Orange Prize for her book Small Island. The Long Song is her fifth book and was long-listed this year for the Booker Prize.

This historical novel is about the personal experiences of July, a slave in the times of the Baptist War in 1831 who lives in Amity sugar plantation, at the times of the beginning of the end of slavery. The owner of the plantation has died and the property had gone to his sister, who had taken a liking to July as a growing child and took her away from Kitty, her slave mother, who had given birth to her after being raped by an Scottish overseer, thus making her a mulatto, a "higher" rank. The prologue and epilogue is narrated by her son who has asked her to tell her story. The story is told by a July in her later days, reluctant to tell her story, in her original patois and also with a victorian style playing some tricks on the reader as to how real her story is.
July is a playful and smart young woman. Her "missus" Caroline Mortimer teaches her to read and write to be of help to her dealing with the plantation affairs, causing some jealousy amongst the other slaves. July or Marguerite, as she was called by her mistress, is a mulatto and in the plantation, respect and honour were according to degrees of skin shades. Almost caught stealing some spirits for the benefit of other slaves during a special dinner, news came of the slaves rising in opposition to their oppressors, who had been tyrannizing them for years. Later on, a new overseer, Robert Goodwin arrived full of christian ideas influenced by his father and had confidence that by treating the slaves well he would straighten up the plantation, but didn't count on the consequences of coming across July and her missus. Their lives will be forever changed. Throughout their personal story the agonyzing daily lives of the slaves in the plantation is well felt by the reader, since this first event to their eventual freedom.
The Long Song is mainly a love story with an historical background and an amazing recount of a woman's personal resilience. It is beautifully written, inspiring, entertaining.

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