"It is 1948 in an England that is still shaken by war. At 21 Nevern Street, London, Queenie Bligh takes into her house lodgers who have recently arrived from Jamaica. She feels she has no choice. Her husband, Bernard, whom she married to escape her dreary upbringing on a farm in the Midlands, was posted to India with the RAF during the war, but when the conflict was over he did not return. What else could she do?" "Among her tenants are Gilbert and his new wife Hortense. Gilbert Joseph was one of the serveral thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England after the war he finds himself treated very differently now that his is no longer in a blue uniform. It is desperation that makes him remember a wartime friendship with Queenie and knock at her door." "Hortense shared Gilbert's dream of leaving Jamaica and coming to England to start a better life - that's why she married him. But when she at last joins her husband, she is shocked by London's shabbiness and horrified at the way the English live. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was." "Queenie's neighbors do not approve of her choice of tenants, and neither would her husband, were he there. England may be recovering from a war but at 21 Nevern Street it has only just begun."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Told in four distinct voices, the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2004 is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, encapsulating the most American of experiences: the immigrant's life.