A Cupboard Full of Coats

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Overview

Redolent of Monica Ali and Zadie Smith, Yvvette Edwards' bold debut is a searing story of family, jealousy, and tragic betrayal.

"He just knocked, that was all, knoced at the front door and waited, like the fourteen years since the night I'd killed my mother hadn't happened at all..."

Fourteen years ago, Jinx' mother was brutally murdered in their East London home. Overwhelmed by the part she played, Jinx's whole life has been poisoned by guilt. Then, out of nowhere, Lemon ...

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Overview

Redolent of Monica Ali and Zadie Smith, Yvvette Edwards' bold debut is a searing story of family, jealousy, and tragic betrayal.

"He just knocked, that was all, knoced at the front door and waited, like the fourteen years since the night I'd killed my mother hadn't happened at all..."

Fourteen years ago, Jinx' mother was brutally murdered in their East London home. Overwhelmed by the part she played, Jinx's whole life has been poisoned by guilt. Then, out of nowhere, Lemon arrives on her doorstep. An old friend of her mother's, he wants to revisit the events leading to that terrible night, forcing Jinx to finally confront her past, and offering her the possibility of redemption alongside the pain of remembrance. Estranged from her husband and detached from her son, Jinx knows that this is her only chance to make her confession, and end the emotional paralysis that has blighted her life. But Lemon has his own secrets to share, and over the course of one weekend they unravel an unforgettable family drama, stoked with violence and passion.

Rich with voices from East London and the West Indies, Edward's narrative is delivered with a unique and uncompromsing bight that announces a new talent in British fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Edwards elegantly braids together the lives of three people whose entangled love for the same woman turns sour in this gut-wrenching and gorgeously lyrical debut novel. Fourteen years after Jinx Jackson's mother was killed, "Lemon," a man mysteriously involved in the events of the murder, shows up at her doorstep with crippling news: the murderer is out of prison. Jinx's first instinct is to run. Full well knowing it's "too late for regret," Lemon wants to "put the record straight." And over a period of three days, Edwards sweeps the reader along a stream of memories revolving around Jinx's mother, who chose an abusive relationship over loneliness. "To know her was to love her," and love her these characters did (and do), each in their own way, but some of that love contributed to her murder "in hot blood." Edwards has drawn complicated characters whose voices are as distinct as the choices they have made. Jinx propels the narrative forward with her raw honesty as she unpacks the "private disgrace" that is her life. Engrossing and human to the core, Edwards's novel wrings the heart in the most tender of ways.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
"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

"An impressive debut, particularly notable for its pellucid prose." — Kirkus Reviews

Review Content:Edwards elegantly braids together the lives of three people whose entangled love for the same woman turns sour in this gut-wrenching and gorgeously lyrical debut novel. Fourteen years after Jinx Jackson's mother was killed, "Lemon," a man mysteriously involved in the events of the murder, shows up at her doorstep with crippling news: the murderer is out of prison. Jinx's first instinct is to run. Full well knowing it's "too late for regret," Lemon wants to "put the record straight." And over a period of three days, Edwards sweeps the reader along a stream of memories revolving around Jinx's mother, who chose an abusive relationship over loneliness. "To know her was to love her," and love her these characters did (and do), each in their own way, but some of that love contributed to her murder "in hot blood." Edwards has drawn complicated characters whose voices are as distinct as the choices they have made. Jinx propels the narrative forward with her raw honesty as she unpacks the "private disgrace" that is her life. Engrossing and human to the core, Edwards's novel wrings the heart in the most tender of ways. — Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

First novel explores the trans-generational fallout from an abusive relationship.

Edwards vividly re-creates the lifestyles, cuisine and dialect of Caribbean immigrants living in London's East End.Her narrator is Jinx, whose present life has been tainted by her mother's violent death 14 years earlier, for which she blames herself.When an old family friend, Lemon, appears out of nowhere, Jinx is forced to relive the events leading up to the tragedy.Her mother's lover, Berris, the man who stabbed her, grew up with Lemon as a street urchin on the tiny West Indies island of Montserrat. The two men are lifelong friends, but also rivals. Berris spoiled Lemon's marriage by impugning his wife's chastity and the paternity of his son.Meanwhile, Jinx reflects on how her own marriage suffered from her traumatic adolescence.Having relinquished custody of her son to her ex-husband, she has no maternal feelings toward the child. Her alienation is such that she only feels comfortable around the dead people she makes up in her job as a freelance embalmer. Now, long estranged from his son, his wife dead of cancer, Lemon has come to confess something to Jinx.As Jinx and Lemon tiptoe around each other, various facts emerge.Jinx was 16 when Berris appeared.Her formerly tranquil life with her mother, a widow, is shattered by her mother's total absorption in Berris. When he moves in, a pattern begins: He hits Jinx's mother (we don't learn her name until the end) then, to atone, buys her progressively more luxurious coats, until she has a closetful.Jinx loses her virginity to the much older Lemon, but is stung by his apparent crush on her mother.Her resentment explodes into rage after Berris beats her, and her mother ignores her screams.As both Lemon and Jinx cautiouslysummon long suppressed memories of the night of the murder, the novel spirals to a satisfying if notentirely surprising climax.

An impressive debut, particularly notable for its pellucid prose.

Patrik Bass
"I can’t stop talking about this gut-wrenching tale of forbidden love."
Attica Locke
"A Cupboard Full of Coats is high drama, full of breathtaking tension, and, at times, brought to mind the works of Arthur Miller and August Wilson, both of whom knew a thing or two about secrets spilled across a kitchen table."
New York Times
"In this potent mystery . . . Edwards makes us greedy for the full story."
Booklist
"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."
Shelf Awareness
"A slow-burning heartbreaker of a story. . . [written] with elegant restraint and a sensitivity uncommon in debut novels."
Redbook Magazine
"Fans of British psychological thrillers, à la Ruth Rendell, will adore this lyrical debut."
Library Journal
London-based Edward's debut novel was nominated for the Man Booker Prize and from the opening paragraph to the final sentence, it is easy to understand why. The book's action takes place over three days—albeit through flashbacks to 14 years prior—but fills the pages as if it spans a lifetime. Jinx, the protagonist, is living a life of disarray; she is estranged from her husband, her only son despises spending time with her, and she worries that she is unable to love him. When Lemon, her late mother's one-time boyfriend, turns up unexpectedly, their confessions and discussions propel the plot of the novel. Although the story is strong, Edwards's storytelling is all the more captivating; her imagery and multifaceted characters are invigorating. VERDICT Similar to Toni Morrison's Paradise, this lyrical novel will appeal to lovers of literary fiction.—Ashanti White, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781851687978
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications
  • Publication date: 6/16/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Troubled

    This book was recommended to me by my mother in law. This book had a lot of disturbing details as to what the main charactered endured as a child. Statutory rape, abuse ignored, a death of a mother and everyone blaming themselves. I can't really say whether or not I enjoyed this book, but it was definitely thought provoking. I am sure as a book club read you would without a doubt discuss the mother ability to put her child first and not a man. Also allowing for a child's innocence to be lost without any discussion or legal action taken. The book is subtlety twisted and will have you questioning why certain aspects of jinx's character was not developed more.



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hidden Guilt

    Heading: Hidden Guilt

    Every now and then I read a book that reminds me to be thankful for a loving and nurturing childhood, because a lack of one can often lead to a disturbing adult life. Yvvette Edwards' impressive debut novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats is such a book for me. The book is a tale of family dynamics, jealousy, tragic betrayals, and guilt that mesmerizes the reader through its searing language and characters drawn so well they fill spaces in the readers mind. Jinx, a 28 year-old woman who is haunted by her childhood, and the brutal murder of her mother 14 years ago, is the book's main narrator. While these events are always present in Jinx's mind, she has not spoken about them to anyone so lives her life in a fog, until a person from the past, Lemon, shows up at her door. With teasing language, Ms. Edwards hooks the reader from the beginning. "He just knocked, that was all, knocked the front door and waited, like he'd just come back with the paper from the corner store, and the fourteen years since he'd last stood there, the fourteen years since the night I'd killed my mother, hadn't really happened at all." Lemon is back because Berris, the mother's boyfriend, who was convicted of killing Jinx's mother, has just been released from prison and has asked Lemon to forgive him. Lemon has his own demons and needs for Jinx to forgive him for past transgressions. Jinx does let Lemon in, and over the course of three days, as the stories goes back forth between the present and the past we are told a tale that will test the limits of forgiveness.

    As the truth reluctantly unfurls, and the interactions of Jinx, Berris, Lemon, and the mother are exposed, the reader is treated to lush descriptions of Caribbean food and the lifestyle of the Caribbean immigrants living in the East End of London. The use of food to nourish both the body and the spirit is a strong technique of this book. But, under this facade of gaiety and community, is the darker subject of domestic violence. This is never an acceptable behavior, and while Ms. Edwards does not shy away from the nasty consequences, she does an excellent job of stripping the characters to the core to reveal their warts.

    Compelling narrative combined with strong storytelling and vividly flawed yet interesting characters will captivate the reader until the last page. I look forward to reading future works by the author. I recommend this book to readers of literary fiction who enjoy stories of the immigrant experience and family dynamics.

    Reviewed by Beverly
    APOOO Literary Book Reviews

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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