The Long Song is set on Jamaica and follows July, a young slave girl, during the last few years of slavery and after she is granted freedom.
The book is very different in style to Andrea Levy’s last book, Orange Prize winning Small Island, but I think they are both good in their own way.
Much of the speech in The Long Song is written in Jamaican dialect, which adds atmosphere to the book. I think this would be even better on audio, as I’m sure my inner mind doesn’t quite do it justice! It isn’t hard to understand the dialect, in fact the whole book is quick and easy to read. I felt that this was actually one of the negatives of the book – it was so light that it seemed to skim over some very important scenes. The plot was quite simple, but the book covered a reasonably large chunk of time. This speed of events meant that I didn’t fully connect with July or understand which emotions she was experiencing.
The narrator, July, frequently addresses the reader of the book, adding references to her present day life.
Having read a few other reviews I’ve discovered that this style seems to annoy some people, but I found it a refreshing change to the similarity of many books.
Overall, it was a light, entertaining read, but I have heard the amazing way Andrea Levy narrates her books and so I recommend getting the audio version of The Long Song.
Did you enjoy The Long Song?
Do you think it will make it onto the Orange short list tomorrow?