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Synopsis

Small Island is a delightfully entertaining and probing book about Jamaican immigration to Britain in the days after WWII. Andrea Levy’s parents were part of this immigration movement and she is interested in investigating the perspective of these people. The Bookclub-in-a-Box discussion guide to this novel looks at Andrea Levy’s exploration of the black and white issues of post-war London, which includes questions of class, race, and Empire. This novel is about the irony of intolerance, stereotype, and prejudice in a country that is fighting a war against these very issues. Gilbert Joseph and Hortense Roberts were born and raised in Jamaica, which was one of over a hundred former colonies of the great British Empire. Their mutual dream is to go to Britain: Gilbert, because he fought during the war in the Royal Air Force and is now looking to return for work; Hortense, because she is a staunch and pompous monarchist who is looking to fulfill her calling as a teacher trained in all the best British traditions. In England, they live in a boarding house run by Queenie Bligh while her husband, Bernard, is away fighting the war. But two years after the end of the war, Bernard has still not returned home. This Bookclub-in-a-Box guide will introduce the reader to the impact and legacy of the intertwined history of the British Empire and its colony, Jamaica; the irony and significance of the title, Small Island; the even greater irony of the fact that although everyone’s common language is English, one does not understand the other. Every Bookclub-in-a-Box discussion guide includes complete coverage of the themes and symbols, writing style and interesting background information on the novel and the author.

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