**CORRECTION** I’ve corrected some names from my original post having got them wrong (with thanks to reader Ada)
Jinx is a young woman who moves through her life with little emotion. At a young age she was orphaned when her mother was murdered. She had a failed marriage which produced a son, Ben. Ben lives with his father. She can’t relate to him, nor he to her although he’s resentful that she seems not to care about him. She doesn’t much. She never calls, never visits. When she has custody of Ben every few weeks, it is generally a disaster and she can’t wait for the weekend to be over. This troubles her, but she still makes no effort to really connect with him. She’s lost the ability to relate, to feel empathy with others. Oh, did I mention? She works as an embalmer, freelancing for for mortuaries when called upon to prepare people of color.
Jinx’s story and the mystery surrounding her mother’s murder take place in East London amongst a small community of ex-pats from Montserrat. One day she opens the door and finds Lemon who is an old friend of her now departed mother, Joy. Jinx and Lemon have a history, and over the course of a weekend Lemon gets Jinx to reluctantly begin to unburden herself. And Lemon does the same. Both have a lot of guilt, and both feel responsible for the murder of Joy, who was knifed by her lover and Lemon’s best friend Berris.
The real story of how the murder went down is slowly unfurled as it builds to the final revelations. That part of the novel is fairly interesting. The problem I had was some of the relationships stretched credibility – at least for me. Joy was apparently a stunning beauty, yet was lonely and fell into an abusive, jealous and manipulative relationship. And as I said, Jinx and Lemon (considerably older than her) have a history of a sexual nature. And they revisit that relationship over the weekend of unburdening.
This is Edwards first novel and is on the Booker Long list for this year. The title?: After each altercation, argument and sometimes beating, Berris would “apologize” by buying Joy a fancy coat. Having left her mother’s bedroom unchanged since her death, she would sometimes open the “cupboard full of coats” which would bring the memories flooding back.
Funny, but I’ve now read four of the books on the Booker Long List. Patrick DeWitt’s affecting western is in my top ten of the year. The other three are all bunched up right together way down the list. I’m still waiting for something else to truly inspire me. So far, this years crop really pales in comparison to last year’s group. An off year, I’d say.