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Summary

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, The Long Song by multi-million-copy best-selling author Andrea Levy is a hauntingly beautiful, heartbreaking and unputdownable novel, which will resonate with everyone who went to see the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave and fans of Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees.

You do not know me yet. My son Thomas, who is publishing 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 these 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 named 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 present when slavery was declared no more. My son says I must convey how the story tells also 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.

©2010 Andrea Levy (P)2010 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Critic reviews

'A marvel of luminous storytelling.' ( Financial Times)

What listeners say about The Long Song

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Amazing narration

I loved this book - brought alive by the most amazing narration. I laughed,aloud at times but was also shocked; saddened and it made me think deeply about ‘Great’ Britain’s shameful colonial past. I couldn’t stop listening to this book.

8 people found this helpful

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Brilliant book great to hear it in the vernacular

I read this for a book group, initially I was dreading reading a book about slavery as the subject is so awful and the stories so tragic and painful, but what I found was this was different, as although its gut wrenching sad in parts you have to go there and back for the high points and it's worth it. Hearing the voice of the narrator in the vernacular and how it is written is so rich and makes it so much more immersive in her voice. I felt reading about this subject which I haven't for very many years I learnt such a lot about the systematic mechanisms of oppression used in those times to exert control and the subtleties of prejudice. I will be reading more from Andrea Levy thanks to my book group Books that Bite with Claire Hadfield.

7 people found this helpful

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The Long Song

Beautifully read. Usage of Jamaican accent very appropriate and helpful. Happy to recommend this listen.

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Struggled with this book

Any additional comments?

I read Small Island by Andrea Levy when it was first published and really enjoyed it. It reminded me of some of the stories my grandparents had shared with me of their arrival here in the UK from Jamaica. I had hoped I would enjoy The Long Song as much but I found it a real effort to break into. I'm now 5 chapters in, having re-started the book three times, and I'm now retiring my efforts. I found Andrea's narration grating. I'm going to get a hardcopy of the book and read it for myself and see if that improves my enjoyment or maybe it's just that this book isn't for me.

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Stunning story beautifully narrated.

I just finished listening to this audiobook and felt compelled to start it all over again. Brilliant story powerfully told . Loved it.

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Nuanced narration

Andrea Levy’s flowing and intense writing was enhanced by her own nuanced reading performance and I was entertained and educated by an account of humanity and history set in the slave plantations of Jamaica. I know of these injustices and cruelties but was appalled again. Nevertheless, the story has quirky humour, great characters and a sense of redemption. Thoroughly enjoyed.

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Not a patch on others of this genre

I gave up on this one after about 3 hours. I found the narration grating and the story was not sufficiently compelling to keep me going. I’ve enjoyed other stories of this genre far more.

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Wonderful, thought provoking book.

I loved this book from start to finish, I felt like I knew the characters personally and I thought about July and her life even when I wasn't listening. The story flowed beautifully and the narration was perfect, I will definitely listen to more stories both written and narrated by Andrea Levy.

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Fascinating story, read in an engaging and entertaining way

A very interesting and moving insight into the story of Jamaica towards the end of slavery and the years that followed, told through the experience of the narrator from her girlhood to old age. Whilst harrowing and shocking in parts, it is also full of humour and light moments as the main character July is full of spirit. Read in an engaging way by the author, the narrator’s touching story brings to life the experience of the plantation. The characterisation of the plantation owners, workers and slaves is vivid and convincing, and interspersed with comedy. Very educational to understand the harsh realities of slavery, the devastating impact on lives and communities and its pernicious ongoing legacy.

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Fantastic performance and story

I loved the narration, and the style of being addressed as the reader. The characters really came to life for me. I really enjoyed the dialect and things like "fool-fool" girl and "fuss-fuss". Is it a true- true story? I must investigate!

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  • May
  • 30-10-16

A brilliantly funny and tragic story

Wow what a performance, Andrea Levy delivers a captivating narration of her novel. Levy has written a masterfully conceived narrative, with a surprising tone. one of the best audiobook experiences I've had.

1 person found this helpful