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Fruit of the Lemon

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,791 ratings  ·  180 reviews
From Andrea Levy, author of Small Island and winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year and the Best of the Best Orange Prize, comes a story of one woman and two islands.

Faith Jackson knows little about her parents' lives before they moved to England. Happy to be starting her first job in the costume department at BBC television, and to be sharing a house with friends, Faith
Paperback, 339 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  1,791 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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Sonia Gomes
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Fruit of the Lemon is a sketchy effort to portray the lives of Jamaicans in the UK, Jamaicans seem to have no effect on the English especially the youth, which we know is not so true. Andrea Levy just skims around the chapters disjointed with hardly any continuity.
The redeeming feature however,in my opinion, is when Faith (the protagonist)realizes with a deep shock how little the immigrants particularly the Blacks mean to the Whites, her struggle to move to a different department, her sorrow to
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I see this was Levy's first book, which certainly explains the disappointment I have with it as well as the pleasure I took in the descriptions and the fluid writing style.

It took awhile to get into the story. I liked it best when Faith starts narrating how she relates to her brother, Carl. I liked the moments when she noticed that even her best friend's family see her as different, her visit to Simon's parents home, the realisation that she is THE token black dresser at her workplace.
You can
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really really liked this book! It's fluid, interesting and easy to read. You get sucked into the story of Faith Jackson a Black British young woman with parents who emigrated from Jamaica. This is the story of Faith really discovering who she is and where she comes from. A completely relateable story as we all have that life defining experience when we stop and question, who am I really? Where did my family/ancestors come from? It's about Faith seeming to live in a sort of confusion or shadow ...more
Mocha Girl
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Faith Jackson is the daughter of hardworking, conservative Jamaican immigrants and grows up in a moderate middle-class environment. She, like many others, assimilates into a society that does not fully embrace those that are "different." All her life, she has grappled with some form of scrutiny and eventually develops a blind eye and deaf ear to racial slurs and stereotypes that she experiences routinely, even from her "best friends." For example, as a child, she is openly teased by white ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it
'The lemon flower is pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the lemon is impossible to eat.'

Having read Small Island first, I can see why it gets the praise of literary glory & maturity-of-writing than this earlier novel. But I really enjoyed this one. It felt and read lighter, much lighter and humorous than Small Island (which was pretty heavy on all things life and history).

This is a story about discovering your family tree, situating yourself in relation to the wider
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Ah, so good - emotional personal (hi)story with social commentary that is not over-explained? Give it to me please.

It was so... precious. This novel is basically about a 20something second generation Jamaican-English girl dealing with some life crisis travelling back to Jamaica to meet some relatives of her mum's who stayed in Jamaica and listening to some family stories / going to family functions and experiencing life in Jamaica. It does not sound really interesting and not a lot happens in
Nancy H
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This book tells the story of a family consisting of parents who came to England from Jamaica and their two children, who were born in England. The parents have never spoken much about their family back in Jamaica, so their son and daughter don't know much about their relatives. When the daughter is having problems with her job, her supposed friends, and her life in general, she decides to take a trip to Jamaica. It is through her trip that the reader learns the whole story about the different ...more
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fruit of the Lemon is Levy's third book and last before her break-out with the novel, Small Island. In an interview with the Guardian, she categorized her first three novels as a her "baton race" and I suppose this is evident throughout the novel. Stated herself, " Anyone reading my books could say, 'Well, she got a dictionary there,' and 'She got a thesaurus at this point.'" Despite all this, I found the book wholly enjoyable. In particular, Faith's parent's Jamaican patois is entertaining and ...more
Jenny Yates
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a story about discovering one’s roots. The hero is a London girl whose parents emigrated from Jamaica. All her life she’s been conscious of her differences, experiencing a vague tension that only occasionally becomes blatant racism. When she is in danger of becoming overwhelmed by it, her parents send her back to Jamaica. There she finds a place where she fits, and a whole lot more branches to her family tree. It’s light, funny, clearly observed, never shallow, and well worth reading.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-bookclub
Sadly these characters didn't interest me at all and therefore I had a hard time keeping them all straight, especially after Faith arrived in Jamaica and Levy spent several chapters telling some of their backstories through the eyes of another. The story dragged and the writing didn't stand out in any way for me. This is not one of my bookclub's more appealing selections - at least not for me.
Stephanie ((Strazzybooks))
DNF @ 61%,
and telling myself it's okay to officially quit if I haven't finished it in 8 months,
Robert Palmer
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The lemon flower is pretty,and the Lemon flower is sweet ,but the fruit of the Lemon is impossible to eat.

The novel,Fruit of the Lemon,is somewhat of a comedy as Faith Jackson gets her first job at the BBC television,her parents had come to London from Jamaica .As Faith encounters ingrained British racism. Her parents plan to retire to Jamaica. After a violent attack on a black woman working in a bookstore. Faith has a breakdown and she is sent to Jamaica,on the island Faith meets her relatives
John Newcomb
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book and miss Andrea. It tells the story of Faith whose parents were of the Windrush generation, her success as an English girl and her eventual need and voyage of self discovery to Jamaica. I guess it is semi autobiographical but none the worse for that.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This, Levy's 3rd novel, is like her previous books in containing elements of her own life (studying textiles at college, working for the BBC, visiting Jamaica for the first time).

'Faith' is a daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents in London - "bastard child of Empire" as she describes herself late in the book. The first half of the book describes her travails establishing her place in white English society, while the second half tells of her first visit to Jamaica and her discovery of her
Shivanee Ramlochan
Excerpted from the full review:

"While reading ‘Fruit of the Lemon’, it became quickly apparent to me that I was in the hands of a startlingly evocative writer. Levy rarely ‘lays it on thick’ – there is none of that overindulgence, poorly executed, in exposition, description or plot progression. The ingrained racism Faith endures uneasily in England, her incremental malaise and mistrust of her own complexion, are subtly enforced at every turn, ‘til we feel like buckling beneath the pressure,
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Fruit of The Lemon is a well written piece of adult fiction. The protagonist in this story is Faith. She lives in England, but she is born of Carribbean parents. Faith’s parents came to England from Jamaica. Faith’s life changes when her parents decide to return to Jamaica to retire. Faith’s life had began to fall to pieces, so it was decided that Faith would go to Jamaica too to stay with her aunt Coral.

Fruit of The Lemon is told by different narratives including Faith’s life in England and
Dec 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm not sure if Levy wrote this before or after her very successful Small Island, but I felt it wasn't as good. The first few chapters seemed a bit heavy handed, but the book was entirely redeemed by two magnificent central chapters: one in which the heroine Faith, the British-born daughter of Jamaican parents, witnesses a racist attack, and the following one in which she arrives in Jamaica for the first time. These are wonderfully done, vivid and striking, and really make you feel for Faith as ...more
Sherree Gaskell
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Andrea Levy. In part because my life story is reflected in her books but mostly because her writing has a way of wrapping around you and carrying you forward. Fruit of the lemon was sad in that it highlighted the dreadful lives of the children of immigrants in England. The slow acceptance that they are "not really Brits, and not wanted" although Britain is the only country they know. I found myself wincing at the obvious admiration Jamaican people had for the British. Yet ...more
Olivia Rae Marshall
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
After absolutely loving 'The Long Song' (which was also adapted brilliantly for the BBC), I knew I had to read another Andrea Levy. 'Fruit of the Lemon' is an enjoyable and thought-provoking book, which explores the theme of identity through the central character of Faith. Faith knows very little about her Jamaican heritage and has never questioned her parents about their lives before moving to England - but when they announce suddenly that they are moving back 'home' to Jamaica, Faith begins to ...more
Sue Chaplin
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is in two halves, the first part is centered on Faith growing up in London in the late 50/60's, the child of Jamaican parents. Having left art college she gets what she thinks will be an amazing job but discovers that it was nothing like she thought it would be, we have all been there. She then gets a job for the BBC working with costumes, she is on the ladder. She is living with other young people in a rented house. There are hints of racism, she goes for a job and there are ...more
Faith was born in England to parents from Jamaica. The first half of this book talks about how as much as Faith tries to be part of England (she's English, right?) her friends, roommates, co-workers and boss keep pointing out to her how she's NOT part of it. She's frequently asked, "Where are you from?" and people are disappointed when she says she was born here, in England. Faith's parents are about to move back to Jamaica which shocks Faith as they've never had any sentimental feelings toward ...more
Shiva Patel
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first part of this book seems to be a largely autobiographical account of a young woman's early adulthood in London and her experiences beginning to grapple with questions of race. I found it a bit slow but stick with it because it's totally worth it for the second half, in which the narrator travels to Jamaica, gets to know her family there and hears the stories of her many relatives. It's a wonderful set of tales with a wide range of characters, particularly enjoyable and relevant for ...more
Cathy Watson
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Not gripping but worth reading as Faith learns about her Jamaican heritage through stories of her relatives in a way that lays bare the way the slave trade affects generations through the ages. The mimicking of perceived English ways, lifting of the pinkey while
sipping tea, the value of a lighter skin. Shame on the slave owners, shame for their lack of values, and their exploitation of others. The corruption of power.
Sarah Maguire
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, london
Not her best book in my opinion, but a sort of experimental transition between her first London-based novels and her later work in which she explores Carribbean history. The first part of this book set in London was very vivid and well-realised, but I found the episodic nature of the later sections less successful though there was good stuff there. A great talent taken from us untimely at the height of her powers.
Helen Meads
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is MARVELLOUS! I took a while to get into it, but then became absolutely enthralled. Levy’s description of the unthinking institutional racism in England upset me deeply, but once the narrative moved to Jamaica, it was an utter joyful delight.
Gen Keywood
Not her best. The first half, set in England was fantastic. Things got rather complicated and long-winded piecing her Jamaican family together. Nevertheless, an interesting insight into how she grew as a writer and seeing how some of the threads of her later books begin to come together.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Funny and entertaining and showed family in all its forms. Faith's family was supportive, loving,bossy, embaressing, exasperating but always well meaning and by sending her on a trip to Jamaica she was able to see life in a new light.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the tone of this! Especially the parts in London. It was easy and fun to read, and subtlety highlighted the everyday racism in England and culture shock in Jamaica. Pleasant!
Susan Crookes
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Not as good as Small Island by any means but still an enjoyable read.
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Andrea Levy was an English novelist, born in London to Jamaican parents. Her novels chronicled the experiences of the post-World War II generation of Jamaican immigrants in Britain. She was one of the first black British authors to achieve both critical and commercial success. Her novel Small Island won several major literary prizes: the Orange Prize for women's fiction, the Commonwealth Writers' ...more