Jubilee – Shelley Harris

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Jubilee, by Shelley Harris, is the story of a young Indian boy, and his life in a country that was not his, and among people who considered him an outsider. The story travels back and forth between present-day London and the London of the seventies. It revolves around a photograph taken during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977. The photograph becomes hugely popular and is perceived as the symbol of national integrity of England, as it shows British and Asian people enjoying festivities together. But here comes a twist. There is a secret which has made this one celebration impact the entire life of Satish, the protagonist.

The author has painted a beautiful picture of the contrasting household lives of people of different faiths. There are images everywhere in the story. The bunting hanging from rooftops, the cakes arranged in a pyramid, the table set for a party, and the presence of red, white and blue everywhere takes you straight to the land of Her Majesty. It is evident that a detailed observation has been made about how people are driven by their beliefs and prejudices, how they react to a particular situation, and how different people perceive the same thing in different ways. It shows the racial discrimination that unconsciously exists in the minds of people, and how they vent it out by their petty acts. It also shows how the same person may think about an event differently after many years have passed.

There were a few times, though, when it felt like the story was dragging a bit. There were a lot of repetitions, which the story could have survived without. I felt some of the scenes were too descriptive, and it would not have harmed the story to cut out a few unnecessary details. Also, there was a lot of back and forth between Satish’s childhood and his adulthood. There can be a concession that this was needed to build up the suspense. But at the end of the day, it was too much suspense, and the secret seemed small in comparison.

On the whole, it is an entertaining read. It is basically a story about how we evolve as a person with the passage of time. It shows us that bad is not always bad. It teaches us to let go of the grudges that no longer matter. It proves the point that though the past is important, it should not overpower our present. Irrespective of religion and nationality, the happiness, and well-being of the people is what matters the most. And that, I believe, is the best part of the story.

About The Author:

Shelley Harris was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967, to a South African mother and a British father. She has worked, among other things, as a teacher, a reporter, a mystery shopper and a bouncer at a teen disco. When she is not writing, she volunteers at her local Oxfam bookshop, helping customers find just the right book. Jubilee is her first novel.


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