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Book Review: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams - A Portrait of a Jamaican British Woman in London

Who should read it: Fans of Bridget Jones.


Why you should read it: This book will make you laugh out loud but is also frequently dark and heart breaking.



'After a messy break-up from her long term boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places… including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie moves from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?’ – all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.'


Queenie Jenkins is a twenty five year old Jamaican British woman living in South London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. After a messy break-up with her long-term boyfriend Tom, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places and realises she must face the past head on.


I fell in love with Queenie as a main character so quickly and read this book stupidly fast. It feels very relatable to the modern-day woman in her twenties and I felt like Queenie’s journey was brilliantly written and devastating familiar.


This book touches on anxiety, trauma, family issues, racism and sexual encounters. The storyline in this book is raw and feels very much like real life. It brings up so many problems faced by black women every single day and forces the reader to recognise the underlying societal racism in the UK. From the racist comments at her work, with her boyfriend’s white family, to the way that men treat her and objectify her in comparison to her white friends - I feel like I learnt a lot from this book.


'I can’t wake up and not be a black woman, Janet.'


We also see Queenie struggling with her mental health and some severe anxiety, in the face of the drastic changes in her life. However, Queenie has an incredible friend group and Kyazike was the stand out character for me.


'Is this what growing into an adult woman is – having to predict and accordingly arrange for the avoidance of sexual harassment?'


Queenie really took me by surprise and I absolutely loved it. Don’t expect this book to be a light-hearted, ditzy romance novel. It felt very fresh and disarmingly honest. A lot of people compare this to Bridget Jones but Queenie is much more complex, bold and ultimately more feminist.


Carty-Williams, C. (2020) Queenie. London: Trapeze.



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