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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and thought provoking
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...
Published on 17 Dec 2011 by mostlyharmless

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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Have I read the same book as other reviewers?
After reading the other reviews I am now wondering if I read the same book. The novel main protagonist is Jinx a woman who is haunted by her past, and who is forced to return to this past when Lemon an old family friend turns up on her doorstep seeking her forgiveness. Jinx's mother had been murdered 14 years previously and this has had a lasting effect upon her adult...
Published on 4 Sep 2011 by lovemurakami


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and thought provoking, 17 Dec 2011
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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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real people, 22 Aug 2011
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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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. The non-linear narrative can be an encumbrance - it can make reading slow and requires great concentration. There is sometimes a feeling that this is done as a trick to make a straightforward story seem more profound. And the narrative is also not always gripping. On more than one occasion, I found myself skipping back pages that I realized I had read but not digested.

Yet the lasting memory is of a novel where the whole does add up to more than its parts. There is a good study of guilt and isolation. There is a real sense of being the outsider - both in society and within a family. Domestic abuse is done well, with the focus more on the psychological than the physical - the need for control and keeping face.

And most of all, there's a sense of Hackney as a place where real people live, not cartoon kids acting out the latest edition of News At Ten.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional, engaging and thought-provoking - fantastic!, 4 Sep 2011
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.

If you enjoyed Chris Cleave's, The Other Hand, then I'm sure you'll love, A Cupboard Full of Coats. I don't think the writing quality is good enough to justify its place on the Booker long list, but it will gain a spot in my list of favourite books published in 2011.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 6 July 2011
I really enjoyed this book. The author is a great storyteller. I am also a Hackney girl and so in addition to taking me into the sitting rooms of her characters where I felt their feelings and sympathised with their situations, she also invited me in with the smells and tastes of east London. But although she draws you into the characters' space making you feel comfortably immersed in their story, just when you are becoming part of the scene she punches you out of there with a sudden and unexpected fact about her character/s without any sympathy at all! This is a great read with the maturity of a seasoned storyteller in the writing which you would not expect in a first book"
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cupboard full of coats, 27 July 2011
I love it, a great story, well told and well written. The author tells a complex story without the need for sensationalism's. While it covers a wide range of themes, the story draws you along and leaves you like a good meal wanting more, and filled with the need to share the experience an explore the ingredients further. After reading this book I looked in my mothers wardrobe and wonder, what stories her clothes/coats that go back to the 60's could tell.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy subject handled brilliantly, 10 Nov 2012
By 
uj1964 (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Cupboard Full of Coats (Paperback)
I bought this having no knowledge of the author, and found the novel really engaging. She writes well, with great compassion and humour. What is a dramatic and disturbing plot is handled well, and with a satisfying twist. Effectively, this is a story of forgiveness and transition and is highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This debut is a masterpiece, 7 Oct 2012
Oh my, what a debut!
This author is someone to follow. What a gift with words; so perfectly constructed characters. The whole atmosphere she creates is so lyrical, so many beautiful sentences, I had to highlight and take notes on my kindle almost in every page.

There are points through the novel where you can actually smell the food she's describing; listen to Lemon with his thick accent; cry with Jinx.

Abuse and passion crimes, unfortunately, are not new themes to many women; the way they are told here is what makes all the difference.

There's a beautiful Brazilian song that says, in Portuguese, something like: "Certain songs I listen to/fit so well inside of me/ that I have got to ask/ How I'm not the one who wrote it*". Well, this is another book that I'd love to have written. :D However, I don't think anyone else would have the sensibility and talent to have written this story.

A masterpiece by Yvvette Edwards.

She's writing a second book now, and I cannot wait to read it!

*Milton Nascimento - Certas Canções
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a conversation can uncover...., 15 Jan 2012
By 
C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
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Yvvette Edwards expertly explores what happens when we act based on our emotions. The protagonist Jinx is a thirty year old mother who has a difficult relationship with her son Ben. She is living in a house in Hackney where her mother was murdered 14 years ago. One day she opens her door to Lemon, the best friend of the man who has served time for her mother's murder.

The story is told in the form of a conversation spanning a few days between Jinx and Lemon where they both discuss what happened in the build-up to the murder. During this conversation both throw in facts previously unknown to the other. In between this is Jinx's memories of that time in flashback to her school days, her friendships and how she felt when her mother found a boyfriend.

I really enjoyed the fact that this book had depth, the emotions both Jinx and Lemon experienced were real, they felt love and hatred at the same time, they were jealous, they wanted to be loved, they were selfish and selfless all at once. This gives the reader a true insight into the complex situation they all found themselves in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars from a giver's point of view, 14 Jan 2012
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I purchased this title as a stocking filler for my primary school teacher daughter. I searched for a suitable title by typing Booker prize into google- she loves it!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story told so well, 20 Aug 2011
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This is a book with a wonderful story told by two narrators who are emotionally and sometimes physically entwined. The story is told at a steady slow pace, but you will never be bored or want to leave this book for long The book made me laugh especially the description of a man's stuff taking over a bathroom, but in other part, a particularly cruel scene, I winced. There are lovely voices and Caribbean accents and you can almost smell the delicious food that is cooked throughout the story. A book for anyone to savour
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A Cupboard Full of Coats
A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards (Paperback - 21 Sep 2011)
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