26 September, 2014

Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo [Suneeta, Highland Park Library]

Possibly like a lot of people, once started, I couldn’t stop reading this book. 

Full of fun and froth on the top, with darker elements lurking underneath, this is a story of 74-year-old Barrington Jeddiah Walker, a West Indian immigrant in London, his stereotypically shrewish wife of 50 years and two grown children. It is also the story of Morris, Barry’s best friend and secret lover since their adolescent days in Antigua. 

As the charming, colourful character with a fondness for rum and Shakespearen quotations is thinking of ending his double life to come out openly with Morris, we catch glimpses of a lifetime of frustrations, resentments and lost chances. Decades of deception and trying to live up to the immigrant ideal, and portraying respectability in the community, have left Barry caught in a trap. And unfortunately some of the resulting damage afflicts those around him. We see this in his wife Carmel's brief extra-marital affair, aching as she is for his love and admiration.  

With wonderful descriptions of life in modern London and with a humour that is both dry and hilarious, author Bernadine Evaristo takes on a rather tough and unusual subject of ageing homosexuality in an Afro-carribean ethnic group and delivers a bittersweet story with a deft and tender touch. A clever combination of Patois, street and the Queen's English must make the audio version a delightful experience. If you'd like to listen to the story, request the audio CD.

"An original and brilliant voice" says Chris Abani, author of The secret history of Las Vegas. 

Title: Mr Loverman
Author: Bernadine Evaristo
ISBN: 9781617752728
Published: 2013
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

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