Published by Review
It is 1948, and England is recoering 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 with her husband, Bernard,
not back from the war, what else can she do?
Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamiacan men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to
England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. Gilbert's wife Hortense, too, 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 city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was.
Small Island explores a point in England's past when the country began to change, more importantly it gives those
who are children of Windrush parents, a chance to get a real feeling for what life was like for their parents,
coming to a strange land they had been taught to call home, but which was more than a little reluctant to accept them.
Andrea Levy is a child of the Windrush. She is the daughter of one of the pioneers who sailed from Jamaica to
England on the Empire Windrush ship. Her father and later her mother came to Britain in 1948 in search of a better
life. For the British born Levy this meant that she grew up black in a very white England. This experience has given
her an unusual perspective on the country of her birth – neither feeling totally part of the society nor a total outsider.