Reviewed by SA Edward
Saturday, November 30, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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