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The Long Song    by Andrea Levy order for
Long Song
by Andrea Levy
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

It is pretty unusual to encounter humor in a book about slavery, but that is just what we have in The Long Song - and the humor is that of the slaves, not of the plantation owners.

A very strong and independent black woman writes of her life on a Jamaican sugar plantation, with her publisher son's editorial assistance. Miss July was taken as a young girl to be a house slave, causing her to be forever separated from her mother. She grows up able to work many things to her advantage, and her recollection of the incidents reveals above all the strength of will that was necessary for survival.

Despite the official end of slavery, most blacks remained tied to the only life they knew, except that now they rightfully felt it could be dignified. At first it seems like the plantation's new English overseer will bring about wholesome change, but what he really does is cause dramatic changes in Miss July's life.

Author Levy depicts real slaves with definite personalities. Their situation comes alive to us as we learn of their foibles and how they react to their ever-precarious situations. For some, such as Miss July, the enemies were not only white. As the story comes to a conclusion, there seems to be a possibility of a sequel. That too would be a welcome read.

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