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A Cupboard Full of Coats: A Novel Paperback – July 31, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; Original edition (July 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062183736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062183736
  • ASIN: 0062183737
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,182,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“In this potent mystery . . . Edwards makes us greedy for the full story.” (New York Times)

“I can’t stop talking about this gut-wrenching tale of forbidden love.” (Patrik Bass, Essence)

“Fans of British psychological thrillers, à la Ruth Rendell, will adore this lyrical debut.” (Redbook Magazine)

“[A] gorgeously lyrical debut novel. . . . Engrossing and human to the core, Edwards’s novel wrings the heart in the most tender of ways.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“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.” (Booklist)

“A slow-burning heartbreaker of a story. . . [written] with elegant restraint and a sensitivity uncommon in debut novels.” (Shelf Awareness)

“An impressive debut, particularly notable for its pellucid prose.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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.” (Attica Locke, author of Black Water Rising)

From the Back Cover

Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize

A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

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by guilt, paralyzed by shame, Jinx has spent the years since her mother's death alone, estranged from her husband, withdrawn from her son, and entrenched in a childhood home filled with fierce and violent memories.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.

Customer Reviews

Good read right up to the end.
Amazon Customer
Edwards's vivid language captures the full range of human appetites and emotions with admirable precision.
G. Dawson
Such a great depiction of love, anger, internal struggle and finally forgiveness.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By G. Dawson on August 20, 2011
Yvvette Edwards's debut novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats, is an elegantly structured story of guilt and redemption. Fourteen years after her mother's murder, Jinx still blames herself for her role in the crime. She is living alone and in a state of emotional exile in London's East End, separated from her husband and young son, when Lemon arrives on her doorstep unexpectedly: "He just knocked, that was all, knocked the front door and waited, like he'd just come back with the paper from the corner shop, 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." An old friend of Jinx's mom and her abusive husband, Lemon blames himself for the death. Lemon's arrival sparks "some kind of voyage of discovery" for Jinx and Lemon as they spend the next few days revisiting old wounds and reliving past events.

Jinx's first-person narration is emotionally raw and brutally honest. Her edgy voice is counterbalanced by Lemon's melodic, Caribbean diction. Over several days, the healing process begins as Lemon breaks down Jinx's self-defenses with home-cooked meals and other ministrations, including a foot massage that left Jinx a "shapeless, boneless heap of melted contentment." Edwards's vivid language captures the full range of human appetites and emotions with admirable precision. Jinx's dark thoughts are portrayed in clipped, brusque sentences--"I wanted to kill him. I'd been angry before in the past, but nothing on this scale ever.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on September 3, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a first person narrative taking place in two time frames, the present and fourteen years in the past. The narrator is a 30 year old woman, Jinx Jackson, who lives in London, but whose family is from the Caribbean. Jinx is the main narrator of the earlier sections, but we also hear the voice of Lemon, a friend of Jinx's mother's fiance. Lemon shows up at Jinx's house one day and insists on reliving the events of that earlier time, events culminating in the murder of Jinx's mother.

Jinx is emotionally closed down and unable to communicate with Lemon, her ex-husband or even her four-year old son. Her complete inability to bond with Sam, her son, is told with such complete lack of maternal empathy or love that I finished the scene of her aborted weekend with Sam intensely disliking the narrator. And then I realized with a shock that the author expected me to dislike her narrator, she was purposely withholding any facets of the narrator's personality that would create empathy. That is a very gutsy move early in an author's first book.

I never liked any of the characters in the book, except the brief view we have of Red, her ex-husband, but I didn't particularly care. I simply became intrigued to discover what the author would do with this unappealing narrator. And the answer is that the narrator slowly breaks through the immense self-protective shields created for self-protection as she listens to Lemon provide an alternative narrative of those earlier events.

The unfolding of events through alternate narratives is reasonably well done, though the narrative voice of the younger Jinx is an overly familiar coming of age saga that followed a predictably depressing story line.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JCY 500 on August 30, 2011
In this impressive first novel, one of the titles on the 2011 Man Booker Prize longlist, Yvvette Edwards creates a stirring tale of a thirty year old woman consumed by feelings of guilt. She blames herself for the murder of her mother fourteen years ago. The novel presents the tale of Jinx; the narrator; her mother, the mother's violent boyfriend Berris, and Lemon, a close friend of the mother and her boyfriend. Edwards may be a first time novelist, but there is nothing of the novice in the telling of this story. She artfully employs the local argot favored by the three, natives of Montserrat. Effortlessly going back and forth in time, she presents herself as an adolescent, as well as an adult, and how guilt has prevented her from being the person she would prefer to be. Although some of the narration is a bit overdone, it does have a momentum that keeps the reader involved. There are some particularly harrowing, deeply disturbing scenes within the book, but they are all in keeping with the author's theme. Also, at the end, the narrator, and the reader, experience a feeling of deliverance. The next installment of the narrator's life is bound to be much happier and fulfilling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Darryl R. Morris on August 19, 2011
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Jinx is a beautiful but deeply troubled east Londoner born to Caribbean immigrants, whose life was shattered 14 years ago when her mother Joy was brutally murdered by Berris, her second husband and Jinx's stepfather. Jinx blames her own jealousy and spite for her mother's murder, and has shut herself off from everyone, including her ex-husband and their young son, until the day that Lemon, Berris' best friend and a man she has admired since she first met him as a teenager, knocks on her front door. Lemon seeks to makes amends for his role in her mother's murder, now that Berris has just completed his prison sentence. During an intense weekend, filled with deep emotions and tempered by Lemon's irresistible cooked meals, the two relive their own separate and interlinked past histories, the passionate but troubled relationship between Berris and Joy, and the seemingly benign but malicious acts that led to Joy's murder.

A Cupboard Full of Coats is an intense and gripping debut novel which was an interesting selection for the Booker Prize longlist, which is highly recommended.
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More About 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 is her first novel.

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A Cupboard Full of Coats: A Novel
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