A Cupboard Full of Coats Paperback – 14 Apr 2011
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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
From the Back Cover
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
Deeply moving, wonderfully written . . . a study of grief and remorse. Times (London)
In this potent mystery . . . Edwards makes us greedy for the full story. New York Times
Plagued by guilt, paralyzed by shame, Jinx has spent the years since her mother s death alone, estranged from her husband, withdrawn from her son, and entrenched in a childhood home filled with fierce and violent memories. When Lemon, an old family friend, appears unbidden at the door, he seduces Jinx with a heady mix of powerful storytelling and tender care. What follows is a tense and passionate weekend, as the two join forces to unravel the tragedy that binds them. Jinx has long carried the burden of the past; now she must relive her mother s last days, confront her grief head-on, and speak the truth as only she knows it.
Expertly woven and perfectly paced, A Cupboard Full of Coats is both a heartbreaking family drama and a riveting mystery, with a cast of characters who linger in the mind and the heart long after the last page has been turned.
Engrossing and human to the core, Edwards s novel wrings the heart in the most tender of ways. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A piercing and engaging narrative that navigates through past and present heartache with tenderness and candor. This promising new author twists and turns words with skill reminiscent of Toni Morrison and Barbara Kingsolver, who similarly explore hidden and revealed secrets. Booklist" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
30 year old Jinx is an embalmer and lives alone in the family home. She is haunted by the murder of her mother 14 years prior. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Gloria
A carefully plotted, brilliantly written debut that keeps you intrigued to the last page. The characterisation has real authenticity, and is one of the reasons this book is such a... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jenny Foster
Yvvette Edwards's Booker-longlisted first novel is the tragic tale of a girl crippled with remorse and of two men who end up each playing Iago to the other's Othello. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Kate Hopkins
I waited for this book to "go somewhere". I'd read all of the reviews and most of them were really good and don't get me wrong its ok but nothing special.Published on 27 April 2014 by H. S. Lawrence
I loved this book. It was an intriguing and moving story with a reality and honesty about it that was refreshing. Read morePublished on 16 Mar. 2014 by MISS RA DURBER