Archive for the ‘Andrea Levy: Never Far from Nowhere’ Category

Never Far from Nowhere (the end of the book + my own opinion)

January 4, 2010

Vivien didn’t tell her mum that she has a boyfriend. The mother hasnt’t a good relationship to her two daughters. I think that she isn’t a provident mother who’s interested in the life of her children. It comes very often to a dispute – and everyone insults someone. Especially the relation between Olive and her mother is very bad. Olive thinks back to her ex-friend Peter and anyhow she hopes that he comes back to her…
Vivien visits with her boyfriend Eddie the Canterbury Art College because she could imagine to study there. Her mother doesn’t find it good that Vivien wants to study art. Vivien has a quarrel with Eddie – she’s upset because from her view he starts nothing with his life – he drinks beer, plays darts, hangs around with his dad and dreams of a musician career. Vivien receives an assent from the college. Good news – and the next already follows : finally Olive receives a small flat for her and her child Amy. She’s very suprised – at long last she can move out from her home and can leave her mother.
Vivien packs up to move in her new flat with another student. As she packed she kept looking round her bedroom wanting to remember all the fun times – but none came. At last her mother not even accompanies her to the college, because she must work. She always cared more about her work that her children. In the college Vivien gets to know decent people. It is an unusual, new situation for her.
Olive cannot manage her new situation in her own flat: people make noise and she can’t pay her first gas bill – she’s overstrained again. With the aid of Vivien’s boyfriend Eddie, Olive learns to drive the car a little. Eddie offers Olive to drive with the van of his parents. One evenig she went to Eddie’s house and picked up the key – a really stupid idea! She only has passed the test – and has still no driving licence. Of course, the police catch her out. At this point in the book appears once more racism. The policemen offend her – “dirty black” or “lippy nigger bitch”. Little bastards! One of the policemen grabs a bag with marijuana which lies in the van. She must go along with the policemen…

Vivien settles well in her new home and gets along with her roommate Victoria. Eddie visits his girlfriend in college at the weekends. It comes again to a quarrel which is about the same issue that Vivien still thinks that he doesn’t start something in his life. Vivien receives a phone call from Olive – and she describes her current predicament. However, Vivien cannot help her sister – she trys to calm her, but they break up in a quarrel… Olive must pay for the possession of the marijuana, a twenty pounds forfeit. Finally she becomes aware of the fact that she doesn’t feel accepted in this country. She would like to escape from her situation and begin a new life in Jamaica. She thinks that she actually belongs to Jamaica, because of her black skin – and she thinks that she will be accepted there.
When Vivien went home from college the first time, there’s trouble again. The sisters simply don’t get on – they’re too different. It seems as if Olive is jealous of her little sister Vivien, because she has reached so much in her life… Vivien knows that she belongs to England – to the place where she was born.

It was interesting to read this book even if I didn’t feel a real tension. I experienced different problems of in-migrant children: normal for example don’t get along with parents or having a boyfriend and also unusual issues – like having a baby when you’re still a child too. I could unterstand the feelings of the protagonists very good – in general it can be said that the book is well-written, altough in a few chapters the situations are described vulgarly like I mentioned it in the beginning. The book is actually easy to read and I could still grasp the content even if I didn’t know all the vocabulary. To sum up, I’d like to say that it was a strenous work and I invested much time, but it also was fun and it‘s good to improve the English language…J


Never Far from Nowhere (p.86- 195)

January 3, 2010

The girls from her clique started going out with boys, except Vivien – nobody fancied her. A girl says to her that she actually doesn’t look like a darkie and that she’s one of them. Also at this point of the book an exclusion becomes a little clear…Newly the gang goes to a pub and drink alcohol there. It comes to a dispute which is raised by a boy, because of racism. Several boys are involved in the conflict and one pulls out even a knife… then the police comes. At the end of this evening, Pam, a girl of the group, says to Vivien that the dispute was her fault, because she had talked with the black boy…
In the meantime Olive has got her baby. It’s a girl – “Amy”. The birth was very painful for her. It is obvious that this little 17-years old girl is overextended with her newborn baby. As I read on the book, I found out that Olive was watching TV with her baby. It’s unimagineable, I mean it’s a newborn baby, hello?! She isn’t able to manage her situation! Anyhow I feel sorry for her…
Vivien notices that she doesn’t want to come in the same situation of her sister. She wants to be independent. Vivien and her friend Carol don’t get along with the other girls anymore. The two girls go to a pub again and drink alcohol there, possibly to be more self-confident. There they get to know boys and talk with them. Who would have tought it comes again to a conflict? Excellent – of course there is a palpable conflict, but this time jealousy is in the play. By-and-by it becomes a little boring to read permanent that the boys were at loggerheads.
The relationship between Olive and Peter gets worse and worse… He tells her how she should behave. Peter absolutely loses control. He acts deranged and he’s very very irritated!

Vivien is in the sixth form. Sixth forms are a part of Secondary School. Almost all the girls there are well-to-do. Vivien gets to know a girl – Georgina. She meets her and they go together to a pub. Vivien get along well with Georgina. A friend of Georgina, Helena, also appears in the pub. There the girls become acquainted with a guy, Eddie. Eddie is interested in Vivien. As Eddie wanted to know more about Vivien, she replied him that she’s from Mauritius – because she wanted to be more interesting and Eddie shouldn’t be predjudiced because of her real nationality. – It’s a pity that she thinks that way and doesn’t stand by herself! At the end she stays with him in the pub without Georgina and Helena… I’m curious how it will go on with Vivien and Eddie.
…and how will it go on with Olive and Peter? After all he didn’t come home for days… The relationship is finished by Peter – he drops Olive. Peter has got to know another woman with whom he lives now – she’s mother of two children. Olive finds Peter’s statement ridiculous. It seems as Vivien doesn’t care about him anymore – she’s definitely happy about his decision because finally he hasn’t treated her well.

Vivien visits his boyfriend Eddie at home and gets to know his family. He gives her sufficient time for all the matters in their relationship. They have pleasant moments with each other – they’re really lucky.

Olive has a sleep disorder and so she decided to go to the doctor to get sleeping- pills. While she went to the doctor, Vivien stayed at home to look after Amy, but then Peter came home to take his daughter. It is a big chaos – Olive loses control, insults her little sister and lashes about. Finally there’ s a little “happy end” because Olive, Vivien and her boyfriend Eddie drive to Peter’s new home to pick up Amy. Peter and Olive have arguments futhermore – always the main problem, because Peter wants to see his little daughter more often, but the mother doesn’t accept that.

Olive has a really hard life – she goes to the unemployment office with the hope to receive a bit money. But the woman there tells her that she would only get money if she works anywhere. That’s impossible for Olive – working and bringing up a child at the same time! Olive will probably receive money from the Security Service soon…
Wow – I’m glad that I’m not in such a situation: to take care of a baby, to have no husband, to have no work, from this it follows that you can’t earn money, no parents who support you… oh my god!

Never far from Nowhere – (p.33- 86)

January 1, 2010

The next pages are written about the everyday life: school, hanging around with friends and to talk about boys. Vivien is a clever girl and she invests a lot of time for the school. Her best friend Carol is really proud of her little swot. Olive is different to her young sister. Olive hates school and she says that school-days are shit. The father died at an awkward time, because Olive was planning to leave home and live together with her friend Maggie or with other people. Olive hadn’t a good relationship to her father, because he hit her very often as she was a young girl and so she wasn’t very sad as he died. One day Olive gets to know a English guy when she stayed at club. His name is Peter, he’s a postman and he lives in south London and for Olive he makes the appearance as he’s a man who cares about her and listen to her problems. They spend a lot of time together. After a while she notices that she really loves him and misses him when he isn’t by her side. They also make love together and some day she notices that she misses her period…. Could it be possible that this 17-years-old girl is pregnant? Oh no how will it be going on? What will her boyfriend say? Will he leave her? And how will her mother react?

Vivien is not only interested in school, she’s also interested to go with her friends to a disco and party with them. She experiences a conflict when she stayed with her friends in a youth disco. A jealous girl insults and threatens her friend Carol, because she danced with a guy who dates a friend of her.

Olive lost her job in the boutique, but she isn’t sad about that because she wanted anyhow a well-paid job with more possibilties. She was worried about the fact that she missed her period for a long time. She thought that something wasn’t right with her… she didn’t know whether she was pregnant or not, because her parents didn’t clear her up. Olive talked with her boyfriend, but he couldn’t imagine that she was pregnant, ‘cause they were careful… She decided to go to the doctor and there he told her that she was pregnant. What a Horror! Too bad, she’s seventeen , not married and she will have a baby! Peter was a Catholic and he thought that abortions were a sin.
The young couple decided to get married and to have the baby. It seems as if her younger sister Vivien is a little jealously on Olive…

Never far from Nowhere (first 30 pages)

December 29, 2009

Never far from Nowhere

Olive and Vivien are sisters, born in London to Jamaican parents and brought up on a council estate. They go to the same grammar school. Vivien’s life becomes a chaotic mix of friendships, youth clubs, skinhead violence, A-Levels, discos and college. Olive, three years older and a skin shade darker, has a very different tale to tell…(® that’s the advertising summary of the book)


the first 30 pages
The novel begins with introducing the Charles- family. An annotation: the book ‘Never far from Nowhere’ is told alternately from the point of view of the two sisters Vivien and Olive, so the narrative view changes after circa ten pages (the “chapters” are very short). Olive and Vivien Charles are living with their parents in a council flat in London. The parents are from Jamaica and came by ship to England. Olive who is the darker one, is three years older than her little sister Vivien who has a light skin and could be considered as an Italian girl. I have also a sister who’s nearly three years older than me, so I’m curious about their relationship. The father of the girls is Newton Charles, he’s a mechanic and at the first pages you find out that he died because of a fever. Rose Charles is the mother of Olive and Vivien and her life is fulfilled by tough work. The mother believes that she isn’t black because of the fact that she doesn’t believe in black people and she makes a statement to Olive which I think is very important and significant: you’re not white and you’re not black- you’re you. Other facts which I noticed about the family are that they’re really poor and it seems to me that they aren’t feel accepted, because Vivien mentioned that English people hated them. The two sisters went to the same grammar school, to an allgirls’ school and so they didn’t meet boys there. Olive hadn’t the chance to make her homework undisturbed when she was at home. It seems as if the mother isn’t interested in her girls’ education. Vivien and her friend Carol went to a youth club. The situation there is very different: on the hand they are talking with other young people and get to know them better and playing games with them, but on the other hand there is also trouble and they are meeting skindheads. Vivien started hanging around with the young people quite often. Olive who looks like a model and works as an assistant in a boutique also likes going out and having fun, mainly in clubs. As she went to a club with her friend Maggie, she made a bad experience because after clubbing, she went with a guy. The man abuses her in a certain manner… sometimes Andrea Levy expresses situations very detailed and vulgarly.  


The author

December 28, 2009

The author of my book “Never Far from Nowhere” is Andrea Levy. She’s a British author who was born 1956 in London to Jamaican parents. Her parents sailed to England. Andrea Levy worked for a social institution as she was in her mid-twenties. During this work she got to know her own identity as a woman and especially as a black one better. Andrea Levy began writing as she was in her mid-thirties. For A. Levy literature is a good way to discover yourself. She studied creative writing in London. Her first three novels “Every light in the House Burnin‘” (1996), “Never Far from Nowhere” (1996) and “In Fruit of the Lemon” (1999) are about black British-born children of Jamaican emigrants and their problems and experiences. Andrea Levy loves London and she has used this city as the setting in many of her novels. Other novels are “Small Island” and “The Long Song” which will be published next year.

Never Far From Nowhere by Andrea Levy

November 1, 2009