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Reviewed by SA Edward

 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

 

have a keen interest in reading debut novels, particularly those written by Black writers, so A Cupboard Full Of Coats, written by a Black woman (with a similar surname to mine)was a must read.

 

‘A Cupboard Full Of Coats’, tells the story of Jinx whose teenage yearsare disrupted when her mother introduces her new lover, Berris, into their equation. The story is told over a long weekend which Jinx spends with Berris’s best friend, Lemon.

 

The reader is hooked from the start of the story, not just by the unexpected appearance of, Lemon, on Jinx’s front door step all, “…wet and wordless,” but also by Jinx telling us, that Lemon had last stood there the night she killed her mother.

 

Once through the door, Lemon proceeds to make himself at home. He charms and pampers Jinx with his delicious Caribbean cooking - Montserratian style pumpkin soup, curry goat and even Guinness punch. 

 

Over the course of the long weekend that Lemon stays, we are told a story involving physical, sexual and emotional abuse with tragic consequences. We are taken through a young girl’s journey into womanhood; her perceived love for an older man and failed attempts at motherhood and building healthy relationships. It is a thought provoking and emotionally charged story of a young woman who, through revisiting her past, is able to begin to free herself from the fear and guilt she has been carrying for fourteen years.

 

Edwards tells the story from Jinx and Lemon’s points of view and this works well for me. However, at times I felt there was a need for more variety by way of interactions with other characters such as Jinx’s son, Ben, and his father, Red. I was looking forward to Berris showing up after his long stretch in prison and was disappointed when he didn’t. 

 

Yvvette Edwards writes with confidence. The story evoked painful and intense emotions for me. The fact that it is set in Hackney, an area I know very well, made it easy for me to visualise much of the outdoor scenery.

 

I am looking forward to reading more of Yvvette Edwards’ work. She is indeed a new talent.

 

 

‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’ is published by Oneworld Publications 2011 and was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2011

 

 

SA Edward is The New Black Magazine's Books and Literature Editor

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