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A Cupboard Full of Coats Paperback – 14 Apr 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; 1st Edition edition (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851687971
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851687978
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 394,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

One to watch. --Daily Mail

A novel that pulses with rhythm, texture, language, and a story that keeps you locked to its pages. Brutally honest, expertly woven, and utterly mesmerizing. I loved this book. --Naseem Rakha, author of the international bestseller The Crying Tree

A gut-wrenching and gorgeously lyrical debut... Engrossing and human to the core, Edwards's novel wrings the heart in the most tender of ways. --Publishers Weekly

"With great courage, both physical and political, Anderson reveals in stark detail the absence of genuine contact between the foreign armies and the civilians they claim to be helping... gripping and disturbing." Jonathan Steele, former Chief Foreign Correspondent for the Guardian

About the Author

Yvvette Edwards lives with her family in East London. A Cupboard Full of Coats is her first novel.

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mostlyharmless on 17 Dec. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
A cupboard full of coats is an intense, thought provoking story of jealousy, domestic violence and guilt.
Set in London's East End, the story is told by Jinxy, a thirty year old mother who is unable to relate to her five year old son. It is told in two time strands - the present time over a few days, plus flashbacks to the time leading up to Jinxy's mother's death fourteen years ago.
Guilt has dogged her as she feels that her own jealousy made her partly responsible for her mother's violent death at the hands of a jealous partner. When the ex-partner is released from prison, his old friend Lemon visits Jinxy to admit his own guilt for his part in her mother's death. Over a few days, Lemon takes on the role of apologist wanting to be absolved from blame. However the relationship between Jinxy and Lemon is a complex one and eventually Lemon acts as fairy godmother before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
The dark secrets at the heart of the story are leavened by sensuous descriptions of the luxury "guilt" coats in her mother's cupboard and sumptuous details of West Indian meals.
Dark and complex jealousies contrasted with beauty, devotion and passion make this a fascinating story with depths that appeal on many levels. The two timescales can be irritating as it interrupts the intensity, but it does work as a device for creating tension while unravelling secrets from the past.
I hadn't realised when I read the book that it had been nominated for the Booker prize. It's definitely a very worthwhile read - Yvette Roberts has created an impressive debut novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jackie on 4 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
A Cupboard Full of Coats is an emotional book describing the life of Jinx, a woman haunted by the thought that she was partly responsible for the murder of her mother.

Jinx suffered from a violent childhood and finds it hard to connect with her five-year-old son. I found their endless misunderstandings heart-breaking to read:

"I caught up with him he had ripped three or four heads off the crocuses planted along the thin bed that ran the length of the path from the gate to the door.
`Ben, don't do that please,' I said as he started tearing off another. Ignoring me, he yanked it off anyway, adding it to the collection in his other hand.
`Will you bloody stop!' I said.
When he looked at me, those enormous eyes were filled with tears. He held out his hand. His voice was tiny. `These are for you,' he said.
And I looked at the small, fresh, squashed bouquet held out to me, and for a second I could have taken his gift and smiled, then cuddled and whispered to my son, Forgive me. I love you.
But the words that came out of my mouth instead were:
`Great! Why don't you kill every single flower you can see?"

I was gripped by this book from the very first page. I flew through it, desperate to know what part Jinx had played in the murder of her mother and how everything would be resolved.

I found the characters well formed and realistic, and the descriptions of life as a Caribbean in East London were evocative and atmospheric. Details of food preparation were particularly mouth-watering.

The writing isn't perfect and I spotted a few typographical errors (for example, see the first line of the quote) but I was so absorbed in the story that these didn't bother me.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
A Cupboard Full of Coats is an interesting novel which does well (for the most part) to steer clear of stereotypes.

It is set in multi-racial East London where many people have mixed heritage and skin colour matters - especially to young people. The novel follows the story of Jinxy, both in the present day as her life in interrupted by a visit from Lemon, an older man from Montserrat, whom she remembers as the friend of Berris, the man her mother invited into her life many years earlier.

Told in twin timelines, Jinxy unpicks both the devastation that her mother's relationship with Berris brought to bear and also the bones the bones of her adult life, lonely and enduring a failing relationship with her son. Within these timelines, the narrative is erratic and non-linear. Frequently Jinxy will drop a bombshell as though everyone knew it, only to explain the situation some time later.

The narrative has a real intensity; the pressure of a long conversation spread over a weekend wit only Jinxy and Lemon present to offer their differing perspectives. Moreover, the two have a chemistry between them which may not be entirely healthy.

As far as breaking away from stereotypes, Jinxy is not on the breadline; she has steady work in dressing and presenting bodies, working with various funeral parlours. Money is not an issue; rather than yet another book about sleeping in coalsacks, we have designer products, lotions and potions, fur coats and frequent references to cooking sumptuous Caribbean food. This gives the characters the opportunity to explore their personal relationships and flawed personalities.

Yet for all the complexity, A Cupboard Full Of Coats doesn't always hit the right note.
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