Author: Yvvette Edwards
Publisher: Amistad Publishing
Published: July 2012
Edition: Trade Paperback
Source: Many thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of A Cupboard Full of Coats. Receipt of this novel doesn't influence my opinion nor this review. The opinion expressed here is my own.
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by guilt, paralyzed by shame, Jinx has spent the years since her mother’s death alone, estranged from her husband, withdrawn from her son, and entrenched in a childhood home filled with fierce and violent memories.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. (TLC Book Tours)
I like a book that makes you think and A Cupboard Full of Coats does that. At first I found it difficult to get involved in this novel, but as the story developed I got caught up in the drama of it all. Jinx (the protagonist and narrator) is not altogether a likeable character, with her self-centred perspectives, but she grows on you. Lemon is the character who is fully fleshed out and in whom you can see a man with whom you'd like to converse and get to know. He is flawed, there is no doubt and he readily concedes this, but his purpose in the novel is to help Jinx overcome her feelings of guilt in the death of her mother. He knows things she doesn't and, though it is fourteen years later, he feels it is his duty to help her so she might heal herself and her family.
Sometimes a decision can alter lives drastically. Jinx, Taboo, Berris and Joy all made decisions, bad decisions, that altered everyone's lives. As I read A Cupboard Full of Coats I experienced a vast array of emotions which certainly is a credit to first time author, Yvvette Edwards. When an author can make you feel, see and almost taste the bitterness and the sweet, you come away from the story a little different. A bit changed yourself for having read it. A Cupboard Full of Coats does that.
Yvvette addresses issues that are still somewhat taboo in society to speak of, including domestic violence and teenage pregnancy. This is the life of Jinx and her family. It's not always pretty but there is hope and in the end, that is what the readers feel. Hope for Jinx, her son, and for Lemon. It is a story of love.
"There were as many types of love as there were people, Lemon was right about that as well. And my love was like Berris's, to do with ownership and rights, legal-pad-yellow love, camouflaged and cold-blooded and destructive; fine and dandy if you were a single man on the pull for a pretty, rich widow, but I was a mother." (page 219, A Cupboard Full of Coats)
Warning to sensitive readers: some language, sex, and physical violence
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and a Kirkus Best Book of the Year
Yvvette Edwards has lived in London all her life. She currently resides in the East End and is married with three children. A Cupboard Full of Coats, her first novel, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
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