Wednesday 26 March 2014

Book Review - The Long Song (Audiobook)

Title: The Long Song
Author: Andrea Levy
Publisher: Headline Review
Release Date: 4 Feb 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0755359400 (book)
ISBN-13: 978-0755384006 (audio)
Read by: Adrian Lester and Andrea Levy

The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in Jamaica, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her “Marguerite.”

Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Together they live through the bloody Baptist war, followed by the violent and chaotic end of slavery. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her “freedom.” It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress. Prompted and provoked by her son’s persistent questioning, July’s resilience and heartbreak are gradually revealed in this extraordinarily powerful story of slavery, revolution, freedom, and love.

My Review
I have been listening to audiobooks in my car for months now and I love it, being told a story as I drive round is great. I listened to all of the Harry Potter's and then the Skulduggery Pleasant series, so mainly old favourites and books I wanted to re-read but didn't have the time for. Then I got to a point where my next book of choice hadn't arrived and I had nothing to listen to, my colleague at work pulled this off the shelf and said it was a really good book and that I should give it a go, so I did.
When I first started to listen to it I really wasn't sure, it's nothing like my usual kind of book and I wasn't sure if I would get on with it, but I decided to give it a fair try and my other book still hadn't arrived so I stuck with it.
This book follows first Miss Kitty as she works in the fields and then gives birth to a baby girl. From then on the story follows little July, who works by her mother's side in the fields until one day when she is 12 the new owner's sister arrives and decides she wants her as a house slave and takes her away. Brought up alongside Miss Mortimer, July learns to read and write and has some privileges other slaves don't have.
To be honest I didn't really know an awful lot about slave movements or Jamaica in general, but this story crafts the setting and events well and is actually quite a gripping tale. I don't know what it is that made me want to keep listening but I couldn't stop.
The book is read by the author herself on the audiobook and so she obviously knows how it should be read, she reads it in the proper accents, Jamaican being the main one but she does do quite a good English accent for Caroline Mortimer. She has one of those voices you can't help but listen to.
I certainly would never have picked this by choice and I don't think I would ever re-read it, but I did enjoy the story nd am glad my colleague recommended it. 
It does have a lot of serious issues in it; slavery, love, murder, suicide, war etc but it is aimed at adults and none of it is over the top. 
If you are looking for something a bit historical or cultural then this is a good book and a worthwhile read.

My Rating
I would maybe rate this slightly above average, so Average +

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