In an attempt to get a good feel for the Man Booker Prize nominations, I purchased *Emma Donoghue’s Room, reserved *Andrea Levy’s The Long Song and Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies from the library. So far, with other reading engagements, I’ve only finished The Long Song at this point in time. Hopeful I can complete the others before the announcement of the award’s winner, I'm at least satisfied that I got to this one.
Summary: The Long Song is a fictional narrative of a slave woman, July, on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, shortly before the abolishment of slavery in the country. July, a cunning and strong woman, has become a house lady when her owner's sister, a Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, develops an attachment with the young girl. Serving in the home, July recounts the treatment of slaves of her status, noting the heirarchy that exists between the masters and the slaves, themselves. Furthermore, July documents the coming days of the slave revolts and ultimate freedom. However, like many slaves at this time, after her freedom is offered she remains tied to the land. July, sharp and bright, is fancied by Mortimer's newest overseer, a Robert Goodwin, and a redoubtable affair ensues. The novel provides many twists and turns that are often times unexpected. The dismal content is coupled with a humorous narrative tone that breathes life into our protagonist. The author sheds light on acts of barbery, while highlighting the composure of our narrator to exhibit the preserverence her character exudes. The content is graphic and disturbing at times, and used as a device to emphasize the reality of such conditions.
My thoughts: I highly recommend this novel. It's historical content is thought-provoking, and it's narrator's wit is certainly entertaining.
*These titles have been announced as candidates on the Man Booker Prize shortlist. The award recipient will be announced Tuesday, October 12th. More information about the Man Booker Prize can be found here.