The Long Song by Andrea Levy

The Long Song by Andrea Levy
PublisherHeadline Review (U.K.: Feb 4, 2010). Hard Cover
Hardcover: 320 pages
Average Rating: 3.75 stars
Synopsis: A distinctive narrative voice and a beguiling plot distinguish Levy's fifth novel (after Orange Prize–winning Small Island). A British writer of Jamaican descent, Levy draws upon history to recall the island's slave rebellion of 1832. The unreliable narrator pretends to be telling the story of a woman called July, born as the result of a rape of a field slave, but it soon becomes obvious that the narrator is July herself. Taken as a house slave when she's eight years old, July is later seduced by the pretentiously moralistic English overseer after he marries the plantation's mistress; his clergyman father has assured him that a married man might do as he pleases. Related in July's lilting patois, the narrative encompasses scenes of shocking brutality and mass carnage, but also humor, sometimes verging on farce. Levy's satiric eye registers the venomous racism of the white characters and is equally candid in relating the degrees of social snobbery around skin color among the blacks themselves, July included. Slavery destroys the humanity of everyone is Levy's subtext, while the cliffhanger ending suggests (one hopes) a sequel. [Publishers Weekly]


  • U.K. First edition was published by Headline Review (U.K.: Feb 4, 2010) Hard Cover; (Feb 3, 2010) Paperback. A signed first edition (hard cover) is listing on ABEbooks.com for $158.



Both the Canadian and the U.S. editions have a turquoise cover with burgundy flowers, while the U.K. edition (which is the true first) displays yellow cover with orange and red leaves.

The Canadian first edition was released a week earlier than the U.S. edition and as such should be the more valuable of the two. However, I was hard pressed to find any CA firsts, so it's just conjecture at this point.



  • Canadian First edition: published by Hamish Hamilton (CA: April 20, 2010). Hard Cover. I found no listings for this edition.

  • U.S. First edition: published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 27, 2010). Hard Cover. Copies are listing from $8 - $45 (unsigned) on ABEbooks.com.

Amazon.co.uk readers gave it 3 1/2 stars
Amazon.ca & Amazon.com readers gave it 4 stars
Goodreads readers gave it 3 1/2 stars

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