Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction
Longlisted for the Orange Prize for FictionLonglisted for the Man Booker Prize
Andrea Levy reinvents the historical novel with her novel The Long Song, a tale of slavery and freedom in colonial Jamaica told in the intimate voice of Miss July, with some editorial assistance from her son, Thomas. The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her “Marguerite.” Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Together they live through the bloody Baptist war, followed by the violent and chaotic end of slavery. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her “freedom.” It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress. Prompted and provoked by her son’s persistent questioning, July’s resilience and heartbreak are gradually revealed in this extraordinarily powerful story of slavery, revolution, freedom, and love.
Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents. Her fourth novel, Small Island, won both the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best. She lives in London.
Novelist Andrea Levy discusses how she came to write "The Long Song."