When I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant I (possibly unwisely!) sat and watched the end of this author’s previous novel ‘Small Island‘ on tv and was blown away by the adaptation and the strength of the message. I haven’t read it yet, mainly as already knew it had some themes incompatible with my current status in it but I thought I would give The Long Song a go, after it popped up on my Kindle as a recommendation.
The Long Song is the story of the last days of slavery in the British Empire and specifically in Jamaica. It tells the story of July, narrating the story partly retrospectively and partly as a conventional plot. Wrapped into it are details about life on plantations, the mental games played about between slaves and masters, life as it was, relationships between the various character and much more. July and her mother Kitty elegantly convey the tremendous bond and love between mother and child, along with how that can be twisted by experience and loss. The marriages, relations and brutality of the era are passionately described while the historical context, the effect of religious fervour and the play between good and bad and how those sides become drawn as a battle line, corrupting as they go are all woven into the story with a light, but effective, touch.
The Long Song is the first book I’ve really been grabbed by for a while and despite a busy week and much knitting and crocheting needing dong, I read it quickly. As an insight into a part of history I know less of, it was remarkable and touching and a downright good read. It hits all my recommendation buttons and gets an unreserved 5 stars.