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on 17 April 2017
Very sensitive subject handed extremely well by Jackie Kay. Read this as part of my university syllabus but loved it all the same. Definitely recommend.
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on 14 October 2000
Written mainly as a series of interior landscapes with relatively short sketches of the outside world in London and Scotland, the work stimulates your curiosity and engages your empathy. The focus of the story, Joss Moody, deceased trumpeter, appears largely and tantalisingly through others' eyes. This approach is no mere device, it is the point: what Joss meant to those who knew and loved him/her and how his "deception", as some define her/his secret, affects their loyalty and feelings for him/her.
A certain frustration may come from not having one's curiosity fulfilled about Joss's motivation for abandoning his life as the female Josephine. I also regret not witnessing more of Joss's mother's encounter with the adopted son, Colman. The book, though, is not an argument for transvestitism nor is it an apology, nothing so crude. The book is more a celebration, a song for that intangible in the human spirit that makes us feel we have experienced a unique relationship in knowing a particular individual. We are not presented with analysis of these experiences but, rather, the author plays each character's reflections much as Joss played his music. Indeed, Joss, though dead, is still very much alive not only in his recordings but also within those he loved. We too experience him/her in the sublime "Music" chapter where the soul of the novel and the soul of Joss meet in a poetic nexus.
By the end of the book, we have come to know Joss and his/her affect on people but s/he remains an enigma. The newspaper hack attempting to ghost-write Colman's "official biography" of Joss would doubtless produce a conclusive character portrait confidently separating appearance from reality and yet be a million miles from the truth. Kay instead leaves all judgements up to the reader who through her sensitive rendering feel not an impulse to judge but rather a reason to grieve.
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on 16 January 2007
Trumpet collects the eperiences of fictional trumpeter Joss Moody's friends and family, after his death when it is revealed he was actually female. The most prominant characters are his loving wife, his resentful son, and the shallow journalist who, in hope of writing a scandallous best-selling book, imagines Moody and his wife as butch lesbians.

At the end of the book, although I hadn't met Joss Moody, i felt I knew him better than any of the other characters. Kay's storytelling is absolutely top-notch; this book _wants_ to be read in one sitting.

It's definately made me want to read everything else that Jackie Kay has written.
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on 17 March 2016
I didn't actually read this, I listened to the audio version. It's very good on multiple levels, as a love story, a mystery and about how the most unlikely people will support you when those you think would, don't. I can't recommend enough.
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on 3 August 2012
Trumpet begins with quite a shock. A woman is hiding away from journalists who want to know more about the death of her husband, Joss Moody. He was a famous trumpet player and he had a secret. Millie knew her husband's secret all along but no one else did. It was something that they both kept from the world. Joss Moody was actually a woman and dressed and acted as a man for most of his life. The book starts with a very strong sense of grief, especially as Millie is struggling so much without her husband. It really saddened me to see her struggle in such a way and for the journalists to not leave her alone. I wanted to bang on the window and tell them to F Off!

The whole book isn't told from the view of Millie Moody though. We also get to hear from Joss's son, Coleman, an author who is trying to write a book about Joss and various friends and family members. While the change of voice was quite strange at times, it helped me to understand Joss as a person much better. The only person who truly understood Joss was his wife so through these other characters, their confusion, anger and sadness explored. Coleman especially had such a strong voice because of how angry he was when he found out the truth about his father. I loved reading his chapters and seeing how his reactions changed.

Obviously, as well as tackling the subject of grief, Trumpet is mainly about gender and identity. I wished that we could have heard from Joss himself, to have gotten to know what his life was like. However, I think that the other character's thoughts did the situation justice when it came to not understanding something different. Jackie Kay really hits the nail on the head when she talks about people not accepting things they don't understand. Because of this, it again made me feel sad for Millie as she had no one to talk to or to help her get through the grief.

Due to the subject of this book, there is bad language and a couple of slightly graphic scenes so it is not for younger readers. The language is used in exactly the right places though and only enhances the story. The language used at times helped to make certain character's anger and confusion and more prominent. I don't always think bad language in books in necessary but in this case, I think it was needed.
I really enjoyed reading Trumpet. It opened my eyes to something I hardly know anything about and it was also a very entertaining read.
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on 31 May 2010
How in God's name I have missed this book is amazing. I devoured it in 2 days. I am not usually a fan of people who write like poets but I have to say Jackie Kay's trumpet is a very well written book. When I first heard of this book, I though that I would be reading about how Joss Moody decided to become a man, how he managed to pull it off, the challanges he might have met along the way. But NO, this book is a whole lot bigger than that.

This book is all about love. How you can love someone so much that whether they change sex, you still love them for who they are. It is about how it feels to lose the love of your life. Don't be mistaken into beliving it is just about a transvestite, it is about 2 people who love each other, the loss that is felt when you lose the love of your life.

Jackie Kay did a brillant job capturing the emotion of young Colman. I enjoyed reading his part and discovering at the end that despite his father and mother deceiving him, he still loved his father very much. That was extremely touching.

Overall I would highly recommend this book, it is beautiful pageturner with a steady moving plot.
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on 15 January 2015
Jackie Kay’s Trumpet tells the story of Scottish jazz musician Joss Moody, who, shortly after his death, is found to have been biologically female. This discovery has a resounding impact on his adopted son Colman, and his grieving wife Millie, as well as igniting huge media interest. Millie flees to their native Scotland in the wake of his death while Colman, angry and confused, begins to collaborate with scheming journalist Sophie Stones. Kay’s groundbreaking debut novel is a gripping study of grief and unconditional love, and poses important questions regarding society’s perception of gender and identity. She expertly captures the anguish of Millie, mourning and remembering in the safe haven of her and Joss’s summer home, as well as the complicated emotions of Colman, who hides his own grief and sense of betrayal behind anger, and as a result turns to Sophie to hurt his father’s memory. The underlying theme of race and cultural identity links past and present, father and son, throughout, and explores the strengths of family.

Trumpet is an eye-opening, unique book that will get you thinking and will stay with you long after the final page.

- Beth & Anne
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I am amased that this book isn't more well-known (I had trouble finding it in most bookstores) because it is a brilliant read. I had to read it for my women's module and it was far from a chore. I loved all the narrators of this book and particularly felt sorry for Mrs Moody and her son. It only took me 3 days to read it because it was that good. It is impossible to put down. It deals with the issues of love, death, anger and identity crisis with ease. I recommend it to everyone.
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on 15 January 2015
Jackie Kay’s triumphant debut "Trumpet" centres around the death of jazz trumpeter Joss Moody and how his wife Millie and son Colman deal with this tragedy. They show the variety of feelings, from grief to anger, that the loss of a loved one can inspire. The revelation that Joss, who has lived his life as a man, is in fact biologically female creates a media storm as well as a rift within the family. This well-kept secret causes the other characters to explore their own identities and to question social norms of gender. Colman especially reflects on his national identity and his African origins which ultimately helps him to embrace his blackness. The novel successfully subverts ideas of gender, identity and social norms in a moving story of enduring love and devotion.
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on 10 April 2000
A rare book of great emotional strength which left me sobbing quietly at the end. It combines a tribute to the intense comforts of a passionate and long lasting marriage with an agonising search for identity and belonging and finally resolves its narrative movingly and resonantly. Every description rings true, every character lives, every episode has meaning - nothing is spare. A really wonderful book.
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