Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her
life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert
Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his
status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie,
raised as a farmer's daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with
innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who
returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.
Told in these four voices, Small Island is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers---in short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant's life.
It wasn't me. Mrs Queenie Bligh, she wasn't even there. This woman was a beauty -- he couldn't get enough of her. He liked the downy softness of the blonde hairs on her legs. Her nipples were the pinkest he'd ever seen. Her throat -- he just had to kiss her throat. This woman was as sexy as any starlet on a silver screen. The zebra of their legs twined and untwined together on the bed. Her hands, pale as a ghost's, caressed every part of his nut-brown skin. She was so desirable he polished her with hot breath -- his tongue lapping between her legs like a cat with cream. It wasn't me. This woman watching his buttocks rise and fall sucked at every finger on his hand. She clawed his back and cried out until his mouth lowering down filled hers with his eager tongue. It wasn't me. This woman ...
If you liked Small Island, try these:
This gorgeous first novel is the deeply moving story of one woman, Nazneen, born in a Bangladeshi village and transported to London at age eighteen to enter into an arranged marriage.
Three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. A devastating exploration of the American Dream gone awry.
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