Friday, October 29, 2010

The Long Song by Andrea Levy

July Goodwin is an elderly woman in 1898, telling the tale of her life that began in slavery on a Jamaican sugar cane plantation. Her voice is wry, saucy and brooks no nonsense. She addresses her readers directly:

"Please pardon me, but your storyteller is a woman possessed of a forthright tongue and little ink. Waxing upon the nature of trees when all know they are green and lush upon this island, or birds which are plainly plentiful and raucous, or taking good words to whine upon the cruelly hot sun, is neither prudent nor my fancy. Let me confess this without delay so you might consider whether my tale is one in which you can find an interest. If not, then be on your way, for there are plenty books to satisfy if words flowing free as the droppings that fall from the backside of a mule is your desire."

July's musical voice lingers in my mind even after her story is told. She is a remarkable character and I miss her.

Readalike: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.

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