The Long Song by Andrea Levy
This was a haunting novel, it was the kind of book that you had to keep coming back to because you didn’t know where it was going next. I felt empty when it finished, I was devastated to be leaving the story of July. This book has been nominated (and won) countless awards and was my book club pick last month. I had it sitting in my amazon basket for nearly a year and thought, hey why not.
My book club loved this book and personally I really enjoyed it too. The Long Song is a “fictional” memoir written by a mother, then edited and published by a son. There is a fantastic tit-for-tat between the mother and son which demonstrates Levy’s playful and humourous side when tackling such a difficult topic. The Long Song is set on a small Jamaican island and tells the story of Miss July. Miss July is a wonderful character, you see her grow from a small child to a grandmother, I found myself laughing and crying alongside her. Although Miss July’s story is dark and thought provoking. Levy moves the narrative through the abolition of slavery in the 19th century and does not hold back. You see a small child get wrapped up in white supremacy, an uprising, the tole of slavery upon a mother, and a controversial relationship (but there is so much more). The Long Song is an in-depth book, it draws you in and refuses to let go. Although it has heavy humanitarian tones which are sincere, Levy is fantastic at is breaking the tension with humour, there are some magical moments between Miss July and other characters. July’s own relationship and jibes at her son are fantastic also. If I did have to give any critique it would be that at times the narrative felt exhausting, those humourous moments seemed a lifetime away. As a reader I felt like I needed a break and a chance to breathe, it demonstrates a desensitization to the situation that can way heavy on a reader. In common society you would be horrified at the injustice of the situation, however the normality or flippancy of the protagonist is haunting. It is a difficult subject to process and there are some graphic images portrayed, however that is the nature of this novel. That was the reality of the time. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend for anyone who is interested in this subject. Levy is a renowned author, she did this story justice and I am sure you won’t be disappointed!
The next book that book club picked was The Power by Naomi Alderman. The Long Song joined my 2018 favourites list and was very much Graceless approved.