Analysis of Small Island by Andrea Levy

Title: Small Island

Author: Andrea Levy

Context: Small Island (2004) is a post colonial novel by Andrea Levy. The novel describes a number of things the characters have experienced before the time England is recovering in the year 1948, from the war.

Synopsis: In 1948, Hortense Joseph, leaves Jamaica and arrives in London with her resolve intact, her heart broken and her life in the suitcase she is carrying. This is the first time she is arriving in London.  Hortense reaches Earls Court and stands at the front door of the shabby lodging house. This is where Gilbert, her husband was staying.  While ringing the bell (which is not functional) she recollects Celia her boastful friend. Hortense had told Celia that her front door has a big bell which she would ring, once she reaches. Celia does not seem to understand uses of a doorbell.

Gilbert Joseph her husband comes back from war with the expectations that he will be welcomed as a hero. Sadly he discovers that in Britain, his status is considered to be second class, as he is a black man. Queenie, is the white landlady of Gilbert Joseph. She is brought up as the daughter of a farmer. She develops friendship first with Gilbert and later on with Hortense, with courage and innocence. Bernard arrives unexpectedly from war but has his own issues to sort out.

In short, the life of an immigrant is encapsulated in the novel, Small Island. The novel, narrated by four voices is a courageous novel of sparkling wit, tender emotions, of exhausted emotions, of passages lost, crossings taken and of rash optimism in the face of unconquerable barriers.

Other works by the Author:

1994 – Every Light in the House Burnin’

1996 – Never Far from Nowhere

1999 – Fruit of the Lemon

2010 – The Long Song

2014 – Six Stories and an Essay

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