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Looking for a gripping audiobook that delves into the complexities of human resilience and hope in the face of adversity? Look no further than “The Long Song” by Andrea Levy.

In this comprehensive audiobook review, we explore the storyline, characters, and major themes presented in Levy’s masterful work. From the audiobook narration and performance to the literary techniques and writing style, we provide a detailed analysis of the impact of the audiobook on the listener’s experience.

Join us as we take a journey through the plantation-era Jamaica and discover the power of Levy’s storytelling in “The Long Song.”

Key Takeaways

  • Andrea Levy’s “The Long Song” explores the themes of slavery, identity and the strength of the human spirit.
  • The audiobook adaptation of “The Long Song” enhances the narrative by skillfully delivering the story to its listeners.
  • Levy’s writing style, use of literary techniques, and historical context make “The Long Song” a remarkable piece of literature.
  • “The Long Song” received critical acclaim and numerous awards, cementing its place in the literary world.
  • The audiobook and novel adaptation of “The Long Song” each have their advantages and differences, making for a unique reading or listening experience.

Overview of “The Long Song”

Andrea Levy’s “The Long Song” audiobook tells the story of July, a resilient woman enslaved in Jamaica in the 1800s. The audiobook provides a vivid picture of the island’s cultural landscape, with its diverse range of inhabitants, including newly arrived white plantation owners, enslaved blacks, and mixed-race inhabitants.

In addition to exploring the historical context of slavery in Jamaica, “The Long Song” is an intimately personal story of freedom and triumph. As July strives for her own independence and identity, she navigates complex interpersonal relationships and adjusts to a rapidly changing society.

The themes of resistance, resilience, and cultural identity permeate the plot of “The Long Song.” Through Levy’s brilliant prose, listeners witness the profound impact of slavery on individuals and society as a whole.

Storyline and Characters

Set in the early 19th century, “The Long Song” tells the story of July, a resilient young slave on a sugar plantation in Jamaica. The narrative spans over 30 years, depicting the gradual abolition of slavery in the British Empire and its impact on the lives of both the oppressed and the oppressors.

As July navigates her way through the plantation’s harsh realities, she encounters a diverse cast of characters that irrevocably shape her journey. There’s Caroline, the plantation’s eccentric owner who initially sells July’s mother, Kitty, and becomes the young slave’s reluctant mistress. There’s Robert Goodwin, the idealistic overseer who tries to enact change from within the system. And there’s Thomas, July’s childhood friend and eventual lover, who struggles to find his place between the white and black worlds.

Their distinct personalities and motivations are intricately woven into the plot, creating a compelling tapestry of human experience and emotion. While slavery is the backdrop for the story, “The Long Song” is ultimately a powerful testament to the human spirit’s resilience, hope, and capacity for change.

“July is a character who demands your attention. She is not just black or white but many shades in between.” – Andrea Levy, Author of “The Long Song”

Narration and Performance

One of the standout features of “The Long Song” audiobook is the exceptional narration and performance that brings the story to life. Narrated by Adjoa Andoh, the audiobook captures the Caribbean dialect and the nuanced expression of each character, creating an immersive experience for the listener.

Andoh’s delivery of Levy’s prose draws listeners in, instilling a sense of empathy and understanding of the characters’ motivations and emotions. The pacing of the narration is also well-suited to the story’s plot, building suspense and tension in the right moments and allowing for reflection in others.

Overall, the narration and performance enhance the listening experience of “The Long Song,” making it a must-listen for those who appreciate skillful storytelling.

Themes Explored in “The Long Song”

In “The Long Song” audiobook, Andrea Levy masterfully explores various profound themes that draw the listener into the intricate world of her characters. Through the evocative experiences of July, a slave girl growing up in colonial Jamaica, Levy takes her audience on a journey that highlights some of the most vexing issues of our time.

“In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.”

Bob Marley

The theme of slavery is perhaps the most central aspect explored in this audiobook. In “The Long Song,” Levy provides a lens into the harsh realities and indignities of slavery in colonial Jamaica. Through her vivid portrayal of the brutal treatment of slaves, Levy creates a poignant and powerful image of the violence and dehumanization inflicted upon Black people during this time.

Another compelling theme explored in “The Long Song” is that of identity. Through the complex character arcs of her narrators, Levy interrogates the ways in which slavery can disrupt and transform one’s sense of self. Her book reminds us of the urgent need to recognize and celebrate the diverse cultural and racial identities which make us who we are.

The Long Song themes

Finally, Levy’s audiobook is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Despite the brutalities of slavery, Levy’s characters are able to find hope and strength to keep fighting for their freedom. As we listen to the audiobook, Levy challenges us to reflect on our own sources of resilience and to use those strengths to work towards a better future.

Literary Techniques and Writing Style

Andrea Levy’s “The Long Song” is a masterful display of literary techniques, showcasing her exceptional writing style. One of the most striking features of her prose is the meticulous use of historical context. Through the use of vivid descriptions and details, Levy vividly brings to life the world of the characters, immersing the reader in the setting of a Jamaican sugar plantation during the time of slavery.

Another key aspect of Levy’s writing style is her ability to weave humor into the narrative, providing moments of levity amidst the otherwise intense and emotional storyline. This blending of humor and tragedy is a hallmark of Levy’s storytelling, creating a multifaceted and realistic portrayal of the human experience.

Levy also employs a unique narrative structure in “The Long Song,” using the voice of a child born into slavery as the primary narrator. This choice allows for a fresh perspective on the events of the story, highlighting the innocence and naivete of the young girl while also showcasing the wisdom and insight gained through her experiences.

“Levy’s powerful prose and mastery of language make “The Long Song” a must-read for anyone interested in the historical and literary significance of slavery and its aftermath. Her unique use of humor and historical context create a deeply moving and impactful narrative.”

Reception and Awards

Since its release, “The Long Song” audiobook has received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling and masterful narration. The audiobook was the winner of the 2011 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, an accolade that recognizes the best historical novel published in the UK, Ireland, or the Commonwealth.

The reception of “The Long Song” was overwhelmingly positive, with many critics praising Andrea Levy’s ability to weave a complex narrative that explores themes of identity, power, and oppression with sensitivity and nuance. The audiobook was also a finalist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, cementing its place as a significant work of literature with a lasting impact.

Comparison with the Novel

If you’ve read “The Long Song” novel and are considering the audiobook adaptation, there are some key differences to note. While both versions offer a powerful and moving portrayal of slavery and its impact on individuals, the audiobook brings a new dimension to the story through the performance of the narrator.

The audiobook version of “The Long Song” is narrated by Adjoa Andoh, who brings a wealth of experience and talent to the performance. Andoh gives voice to the story’s characters, which adds depth and emotional resonance to the narrative. In contrast, reading the novel requires the reader to imagine the characters’ voices and experiences.

One potential advantage of reading the novel is the ability to go at your own pace while immersing yourself in Levy’s beautiful prose. In contrast, the audiobook’s pace is set by the narrator, and while Andoh’s performance is outstanding, some may prefer to take their time with the novel and savor the language and imagery.

Quote from Andrea Levy:

“When I write a novel, I’m writing purely for the page. But an audiobook requires a different kind of construction. The narrator brings the text more to the listener than the reader can to themselves.”

Ultimately, whether to listen to the audiobook or read the novel comes down to personal preference. Each version has its unique strengths, and both offer a deeply moving and thought-provoking exploration of slavery and its legacy.


In conclusion, “The Long Song” audiobook is a poignant tale of resilience and hope, masterfully crafted by Andrea Levy. The audiobook adaptation offers a unique experience of Levy’s storytelling, enhanced by the skillful narration and performance.

Through the captivating storyline and well-developed characters, Levy tackles profound themes such as slavery, identity, and the resilience of the human spirit. Her poignant prose and meticulous use of historical context add depth to the narrative, offering a thought-provoking exploration of the subject matter.

“The Long Song” has received critical acclaim and several awards since its release, cementing its place as a literary masterpiece. Whether experienced through the audiobook or the original novel form, Levy’s story leaves a lasting impact on listeners and readers alike.

Overall, “The Long Song” audiobook is a must-listen for anyone seeking a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of the human experience. Levy’s masterful storytelling and the skillful delivery of the audiobook narration make for an unforgettable experience that will stay with listeners long after the final chapter.


Is "The Long Song" by Andrea Levy available as an audiobook?

Yes, “The Long Song” by Andrea Levy is available as an audiobook. You can listen to the captivating story on various digital platforms and audiobook retailers.

What is the plot of "The Long Song"?

“The Long Song” is set during the final years of slavery in Jamaica. The story follows the life of July, a young slave girl who endures the hardships and challenges of the era. It explores themes of survival, resilience, and the quest for freedom.

Who are the main characters in "The Long Song"?

The main characters in “The Long Song” include July, the protagonist, who narrates her own story, Caroline Mortimer, a white woman who owns the plantation, and Robert Goodwin, an abolitionist who plays a significant role in July’s life.

How is the narration and performance in the audiobook adaptation of "The Long Song"?

The narration and performance in the audiobook adaptation of “The Long Song” are captivating. The skilled narrator brings Andrea Levy’s prose to life, immersing listeners in the richly detailed world of the story.

What are the major themes explored in "The Long Song"?

“The Long Song” addresses themes such as slavery, identity, power dynamics, and the strength of the human spirit. Andrea Levy expertly weaves these themes together, resulting in a powerful and thought-provoking narrative.

What are the literary techniques and writing style employed by Andrea Levy in "The Long Song"?

Andrea Levy’s writing style in “The Long Song” is poignant and evocative. She incorporates historical context and employs vivid descriptions, allowing readers to vividly imagine the settings and emotions portrayed in the story.

How has "The Long Song" been received and have any awards been won?

“The Long Song” has received critical acclaim since its release, and Andrea Levy has garnered several awards for her remarkable work, including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the Orange Prize for Fiction.

How does the audiobook adaptation of "The Long Song" compare to the original novel?

The audiobook adaptation of “The Long Song” offers a unique experience by bringing the story to life through narration and performance. While both mediums convey the essence of the narrative, the audiobook allows listeners to immerse themselves in the characters and settings through voice acting and sound effects.

What are your final thoughts on "The Long Song" audiobook?

“The Long Song” audiobook is a compelling and emotionally charged experience. Andrea Levy’s storytelling shines through in this adaptation, leaving a lasting impact on listeners. It is a must-listen for those interested in historical fiction and thought-provoking narratives.

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