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A Cupboard Full of Coats

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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  1,068 ratings  ·  172 reviews
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, knocked 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. Overwh...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published June 16th 2011 by ONEWorld Publications (first published 2011)
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The Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittBefore I Go To Sleep by S.J. WatsonWhen God Was a Rabbit by Sarah WinmanThe Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2011
52nd out of 154 books — 255 voters
The Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Tiger's Wife by Téa ObrehtThe Absolutist by John BoyneThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Impac Dublin Award 2013 Long List
30th out of 154 books — 48 voters


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Community Reviews

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Kinga
Meet Jinx, a young woman unable to love. We find her 14 years after her mother was murdered in their London house, where she still lives an organised and restrained life. She would’ve probably lived there like that until her own guilt and repressed feelings consumed her completely, if it wasn’t for Lemon who appeared on her doorstop, uninvited, looking to exhume what was buried deep underground.

Despite her coldness and apparent cruelty, it is hard not to root for Jinx from the very first page. R...more
Autumn

Jinx is a woman in crisis, though she doesn't know it.

A child of an older father, who died before his daughter really got to know him, and a loving (if needy) mother, Jinx had a child hood of loneliness and loss. Her single school friend is more of a 'frenemie'. Jinx is a young woman who is at loose ends and unsure of her place in her world. At sixteen, her loss becomes complete when her mother is murdered after a short, mostly unhappy relationship. Jinx decides from then on that she can depend...more
Elaine
Aug 06, 2011 Elaine rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Definitely a shocking, gripping page turner -- well written, mostly, and chilling. Few first-person narrators depict themselves as such brutally bad parents, and that is only the first surprise of many as the plot -- while conventional in some ways-- defies moral truisms. Lemon is too all knowing and all wise, however -- old Lemon seems almost saintly, which young Lemon certainly wasn't -- and this too good to be true-ness mars the book. So does the transformative ending.
but a good first effort.
Her Royal Orangeness
“A Cupboard Full of Coats” is a book about domestic violence that focuses more on thoughts and actions than plot. What do you do and think and say when your best friend is an abuser? What do you do and think and say when your mother is the abused? And what do you do with all the secrets and the pain that still linger many years later?

Domestic violence is not an original topic; it has been covered in many books and movies. But Edwards has taken the ordinary and made it extraordinary. There is muc...more
Rachel
This was a very dark book and Jinx was a very damaged main character and narrator. Jinx and Lemon spend the weekend sharing their perspectives on Jinx's mother's murder with each other. Through flashbacks, it becomes apparent how Jinx grew into such a cold, almost robotic adult. She is not a good mother and the part when her four-year old son comes over for a visit was hard to read. I was left wondering how someone like Jinx came to get married and have a son in the first place. However, the foc...more
Darryl
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 do...more
Esther mundih
when i started this book,i didnt expect it to be this good. it started out a little boring but oh men when you get through the first pages you will never want to go back.
its a very emotional book. one a lot of people will relate to and for some strange reason turned out to be the perfect book for me. i totally recognized the feelings that where felt.
its a beautiful book also full of romance . intimmacy and dark aura. i wouldnt read it twice as it is somehow a thriller but i will definetly recom...more
Cleo Bannister
Yvvette Edwards expertly explores what happens when we act based on our emotions. The protagonist Jinx is a thirty year old mother who has a difficult relationship with her son Ben. She is living in a house in Hackney where her mother was murdered 14 years ago. One day she opens her door to Lemon, the best friend of the man who has served time for her mother's murder.

The story is told in the form of a conversation spanning a few days between Jinx and Lemon where they both discuss what happened i...more
Abria Mattina
This was a book that was outside my comfort zone. Its characters belong to places and cultures that I’ve never been or never encountered, so I was looking forward to learning something about a different way of life. I didn’t know what to expect from the narrative, since its synopsis implies an emotional drama but its cover art is utterly banal. I kept an open mind when it came to plot and style — but I was still disappointed by A Cupboard Full of Coats.

That violent murder mentioned in the synop...more
Jackie
It took me a few pages to get into the main character, Jinx, as she doesn't appear to have too many redeeming features to start with. However, her visitor is intriguing (which kept me going) and the writing is just beautifully atmospheric - and thus I was compelled to read on. I'm glad I continued. This is a sad tale of a little girl struggling without support and somebody to talk to and its awful ramifications for her future. Only her visitor can really help her come to terms with her past and...more
Niree
** I received this book as a giveaway **
This is one of those books that begins with a lingering question, a half-presented hook that keeps you reading to put the pieces together. Edwards has not only created compelling characters, but made an interesting story out of their pasts and present. I'm not one for first-person narratives, as sometimes first-time writers tend to get stuck in the "I...I...I..." format, but Edwards handles it nicely, peppering the prose with lovely descriptions while also...more
Joanne
What a powerful book this is. The narrator is a 30-year-old woman who, over the course of three days, comes to face the whole unvarnished truth about her mother's murder 14 years ago. It's no murder mystery, but a horrible tragedy that colours her life forever. Since the murder, she has trained as a free-lance mortician, more comfortable with the dead than with any living person in her life. She has married, had a son and become estranged from both husband and child, unable to connect with eithe...more
Jocelyn
Holy crap this book was good. It delves into real people, unconscious and concious choices which maybe are not always good but come from what has been collected, experienced, heard, felt, done to or not done to, hundreds of small pieces that build to make a person who they are. I felt the Mom was pathetic, as I probably was supposed to, but also sad and sweet too. I felt the daughter was smart, mixed up, naive, and I also related to her experiences as a kid somewhat though my mother's bf's were...more
Claire McEneaney
I enjoyed this more than I expected. At the start Jinx is a fairly unsympathetic character - selfish and self-indulgent. However, as the book progresses and her history unfolds I found myself warming to her. The story is one of love, loss, lust, betrayal and the dark spectre of domestic violence. I found it to be well written and evocative, with convincing characterisation. Not an easy read at times but one I enjoyed.
Elizabeth
If it were possible to give this 6 stars I would! Absolutely brilliant narration by Adjoa Andoh who brought the characters so wonderfully to life in what is a harrowing, and very emotional, story.

It's one that I shall be thinking about for a long time, and will want to listen to again.


Elizabeth Galloway
This book gives an insight into the feelings and motivations of
Shakespeare's Iago. Lemon pulls the strings and moves the characters
in ways that would leave a chess master in check before he makes his second move.
Saleem Khashan
Buying this book was based on a string of bad decisions.
First I read about it being one of bookers long-listed, then i fell in love deeply with the name "A Cupboard full of coats" what a perfect name for emotions and memories, Third the cover, then the fact it was set in east London a rich place that produces great novels because of the cultural diversity. Last there was all these fives and fours. One thing I MISSED THE FACT THAT THE FIRST 40+ REVIEWERS WERE WOMEN!
Slow going in circles unnece...more
Melanie
I found this book very powerful and moving. It is a journey of a woman broken from traumatic events in her childhood and how the mysterious, enigmatic Lemon leads her on a journey towards healing and wholeness. This book is stark in its descriptions and joltingly shocking even though the plot holds a fatalistic inevitability.

At the beginning of the book Jinx is a hollow, cold, deeply scarred woman who lives a very isolated life unable to even form a relationship with her young son. She is unable...more
Lucy
A Cupboard Full of Coats was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2011 (in fact it’s the fourth from that year’s list I have read- a rare thing for me), and I can see why critics might like it. It has a rather distinctive voice, a bit British, a bit Caribbean, a bit lost.

It is interesting how Jinx’s life seems to parallel her situation. Even before the murder of her mother Jinx was finding it hard to find her place in the world. Her friend was growing up, but leaving Jinx behind. Then her mother m...more
Beverly
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 wom...more
Lynsey
Jinx is not an immediately likeable protagonist, infact the opposite is true. Her past, however sad, does not excuse her hard hearted approach to those around her. The scenes with her young son Ben border on cruel as she refuses him the love and comfort he craves. Occasionally though, the facade slips and she wonders why she can't tell him she loves him. Moments like this encourage us to delve deeper into jinx's tragic past and discover more about the reasons behind her refusal to engage with ot...more
Felicity
Yvette Edwards novel never made it from the Booker longlist to the shortlist. If so, that speaks volumes (I hope) about the quality of the books on the shortlist (although where, one might ask, is Phillip Hensher's superlative "King of the Badgers," which seriously kicks the ass of last year's Booker winner, that awful Howard Finkler novel, that I've never been able to finish...and I know plenty of other people who hated it too). Back to Yvette Edwards' novel...the release of Berris (that's a ma...more
Tracy
Don't want to give anything away, so all that I will say is that this book kept me up last night, and had me racing to a secluded spot this morning to continue where I left off. There were parts of the story that were difficult to read, parts that made me angry. But what made the book stand out to me was that I didn't find any of the characters to be heroic. They were all "wrong" to me. No one was a victim, in my opinion. And yet I understood the motivation behind the choices that most of them m...more
Bibi
A Cupboard Full of Coats is Edward’s debut novel which is written with surprising skill given it is her first publication. I was impressed with the way the story was woven to keep the reader interested and turning the page for more.

The novel setting is East London and all the characters are black; however this is not a story about race rather it centres on a mother-daughter relationship and it explores the emotions of jealousy, blame, guilt, and forgiveness.

Jinx was a mere teenager when her mom...more
Elvira
Not my typical read but I decided why not? This is a slow burner and sort of literary type book. Great for those who like absorbing narratives. It was long-listed for the Booker Prize. Edwards does a excellent job with the characterization but I found it too verbose and slightly indulgent in same parts. Lots of character self analysis (it's written in first person) and it's difficult to keep reading because the woman is full of self-hatred and that spews over into treatment of her son.

Edwards br...more
Renata Barcelos
Oh my, what a debut!
This author is someone to follow. What a gift with words; so perfectly constructed characters. The whole atmosphere she creates is so lyrical, so many beautiful sentences, I had to highlight and take notes on my kindle almost in every page.

There are points through the novel where you can actually smell the food she's describing; listen to Lemon with his thick accent; cry with Jinx.

Abuse and passion crimes, unfortunately, are not new themes to many women; the way they are told...more
Yasmin
A Cupboard Full of Coats on the surface appeared to be primarily about domestic violence, and as I read I thought 'I've read about this subject matter too many times and I'm over it.' Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of patience for women who allow themselves to be abused, continue to stay in harms way and even put their kids into a risky, dangerous situation. I just want to reach out grab and shake women like this...I know but I don't like domestic violence. LOL.

However, the more I read the mo...more
Kate
This is a powerful story. Jinx, a woman in her early thirties, is living alone in the East London home she grew up in with her mother, when Lemon, a friend of her mother’s, unexpectedly knocks on the door. It has been 14 years since Jinx’s mother was murdered, and 14 years since Jinx has seen Lemon. Jinx invites Lemon in and they begin a three-day remembrance of the turbulent time leading up to her mother’s murder, when Jinx’s mother fell in love with Berris, Lemon’s oldest friend.

The chapters...more
P. Afua
When I got to the last few pages of A Cupboard Full of Coats, I put the book down for a few minutes because I didn't want the story to end. I didn't want Jinx and Lemon to stop telling the stories that had hunted them for years. Their shared guilt and heart wrenching confessions stopped my breath and keep the pages turning. Although Yvette Edwards gave the reader a good sense of the major events that had transpired in Jinx and Lemon's lives during the 15 years following the tragedy, I was greedy...more
Liz
Yvette Edward’s debut novel is an incredible story about a daughter, Jinx, and her mother, Joy, who live in East London. Joy and her husband emigrated from the Caribbean. Jinx’s dad died when she was very young and life with her mother was hard, complicated and often times desperate. All of the characters in this book are physically beautiful and much of the story of their lives involves lust, sex, jealousy and lack of parenting when at one crucial moment it changed everyone’s lives.

The tragedy...more
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“My relationship had ended and Red had taken my son. My life was my own and I could do anything I wanted, yet I felt nothing. As I stood staring at the walls, searching inside myself for some kind of emotional response, the nothingness suddenly welled up inside me, like a physical mass, so vast and empty and infinite I was terrified. The very first time I went running, it was from that terror, from the possibility of being sucked down into emptiness for ever, and as I ran I discovered I was able to feel; pressure in my lungs, pain in my legs, my skin perspiring, the pounding of my heart.
My routine was erratic, I ran when I felt like it, usually five or six times a month. So was my style. It was nothing like that of the runners I grew accustomed to seeing, the ones who regulated themselves, jogged two or three times a week, who did a warm-up first and stretching exercises afterwards, the people for whom the activity was a hobby. I ran like my life depended on it, as fast and as hard as I could. Sometimes, passers-by would look beyond me as I ran towards them, with fear in their eyes, trying to see who or what was pursuing me, trying to work out whether they should be running too. As long as I was feeling, I didn’t care.”
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“There was a time if my mother had said we she’d have meant me and her. Now it was them. She was still a part of we; it was me who wasn’t. They used to be other people, those who lived outside our home. Now they were inside, it was me and them.” 1 likes
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