Small Island

  • by Andrea Levy
  • Narrated by Andrea Levy
  • 17 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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....


What the Critics Say

"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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!
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- Dolly


If you could sum up Small Island in three words, what would they be?

Worth reading again.

What other book might you compare Small Island to, and why?

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book also gave me insight into another culture.

Which character – as performed by Andrea Levy – was your favourite?

Andrea Levy was superb in every role, but I particularly enjoyed Gilbert and Hortense. Some of their conversations are hilarious!

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book and will certainly read it again.

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- stylo

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-05-2015
  • Publisher: Headline Digital