Simon Lipson's Reviews > Jubilee

Jubilee by Shelley Harris
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Jun 13, 12

Read from May 28 to June 13, 2012

A little gem.

A street party photograph taken on Jubilee Day in 1977 has become symbolic of the era, its subjects a microcosm of British society. But behind the smiles lie secrets - about the relationships between some of them and the events of that day - that slowly emerge through the eyes of Ugandan Asian immigrant Satish. I'll say no more about the plot, save that it's beautifully wrought, teased out through flashbacks and glimpses of the present day.

The delights here are many. Harris evokes 1977 with a gimlet eye for historical detail. She is also adept at reflecting societal attitudes towards race and class and her dialogue sings. There is no grandstanding, no literary pretension, no pointless lyricism. The prose is neat, spare and tidy. Harris delights with her understated flourishes - a couple of words here, a few lines there - which evoke, with equal expertise, a scene, a sense, an emotion or a broader theme. She gets into the minds of kids with utter conviction, and explores their grown up selves, addressing the question about whether leopards change their spots.

Can't wait for her next book.

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