"A Cupboard Full of Coats" by Yvette Edwards
Jinx is a woman haunted by her past. Fourteen years ago her mother was brutally murdered in their East London home. She is consumed by the guilt of the part she played in her mothers death and she has let those feelings creep into every part of her life, including her relationship with her five year old son and her estranged husband.
But when Jinx thinks she has a handle on things, living the life she deserves, an old friend of her mothers appears on her doorstep out of nowhere. Lemon wants to talk to Jinx and revisit the events that led up to that horrible night. As they spend the next few days immersed in the past, Jinx realizes that this is her one and only chance to confess what she did. But Lemon also has something to confess and Jinx comes to see what really happened the night that changed her life.
A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvette Edwards is a family drama full of jealousy, betrayal, violence and passion. Jumping off the page at you is the richness of the East London and West Indian cultures that play a pivotal role in the story. A Booker Prize long list selection, this book is also the debut novel from Edwards and it shows the promise that she has an author.
What I loved about the book was the theme of culture and its influence. West Indian culture plays an important role in the book as does the food. Mmm….the food. I love (and cook) Caribbean food so it's safe to say I was extremely hungry throughout the entire book! The characters dialogue is interspersed with Caribbean dialect but is still easy to understand for readers who are not familiar with it. Edwards paints a beautiful picture with the way she uses culture and food. She also introduces readers to the small island nation of Montserrat, one you don't read much about in literature.
The story of Jinx and her mother is an incredible one and I commend Edwards for tackling this subject. The story is heartbreaking, traumatic and gripping. However, I personally feel that the writing didn't quite live up to the story. As I began reading I was actually pretty surprised that it was a Booker nominee. However, it was still strong enough to make it a page-turner. It held my interest but didn't leave me wowed.