Small Island - Andrea Levy

A look at the two small islands of Jamaica and England. Set during the Second World War, four very different characters are thrown together. From Jamaica Gilbert Joseph joins the RAF wanting to be a pilot but he ends up being a driver. His expectations are further tempered on moving to England after the war ends and facing the racism there against black people. He marries Hortense and brings her over to England as well. She is very stuck up and thinks herself above other Jamaican's with her proper English ways. In England she also has a rude awakening when she finds out her teaching qualifications are not recognised and the English do not seem to be able to understand her perfect diction.

From England are Bernard Bligh and his wife Queenie Bligh. They have a very stale marriage and seem unable to have children. Bernard joins the war effort in the RAF and gets shipped off to India. When the war is over he doesn't return for 5 years and Queenie goes on with her life. She rents out rooms in their house to black people looking for a place to live as well as having an affair with a Jamaican. Bernard turns up at home one day and everyone is forced to change.

I found this book easy to read, but not very inspiring. I didn't feel the story was a new one, I felt I had read it before and it was a struggle to finish it. It wasn't that it was bad or not well written (it won the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Orange Prize for Fiction), it just didn't really capture my imagination or hold my interest sadly.