Posted on 5th August 2014

By Lye Down With a Good Book Reading Group

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Mr Loverman

Bernadine Everisto

In 2014, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize worked with the Regional Literature Development Agencies to find reading groups across the UK to read the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize-winning titles.

Mr Loverman by Bernadine Everisto was read by the Lye Down With a Good Book Reading Group from Lye and below are reviews from its reading group members. 

Julia Jones

Before being given this novel to review I had never heard of the author or read any of her previous work – fiction or verse fiction. Firstly I read the blurb on the back cover and thought, although not my usual choice of read, it sounded like a clever story line. I also liked the cover photos and thought the character looked like an interesting man – how true that turned out to be!

I can honestly say I was hooked from the very first page – the humour that runs throughout the story begins right at the start. From the moment I met Barrington Jedidiah Walker I loved him! Such a personality – wicked sense of humour, colourful and flamboyant, with a vast knowledge of all sorts of topics – many of which he could write an essay about! He is a little naive but a kind and caring man – especially to his long-time soul mate Morris, his youngest daughter Maxine and, in his own way, to his wife Carmel and eldest daughter Donna.

We follow Barry from the hot climate and close-knit community of Antigua to the cold, damp and stranger-filled city of London, England. From his wedding in 1960 to his divorce in 2011. I felt I got to know the characters well; each of them brought to life so that I could easily picture them, hear how they spoke and observe their little mannerisms, brilliant writing to be able to do this so effortlessly.

The storyline is believable and fast moving and I found the style of writing easy to read. I especially liked the format of the chapters: long and descriptive, witty and warm-hearted when Barry is talking about himself and short, punchy lines without any capital letters or much punctuation when he’s talking to or about Carmel that gives a feeling of breathless, impatience with his wife.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. I found it had believable characters, each with his or her true-to-life personality brought to life so that I felt I knew them or had met them somewhere. The story, as we see it unfold, is both sad and funny and I felt a kind of sympathy for them all. I wasn’t sure how the tale would end but when it did it turned out to be the perfect one.

I will certainly look out for more books by this author and would recommend her and “Mr Loverman” to my friends. An excellent read.

Alison Ashfield

I thought this was a smashing take on relationships and how they can work or be so easily misconstrued.

Ab-sol-ute-ly loved the expressions and dialect. The seduction of Carmel in the office was a great description of the imagination at its best, and most dan-ger-ous!

The humour was right up my street and I was so pleased it was a great ending in that everyone eventually got the lives they so desired.

Great read…  Would love to read more of her books….

Dawn Hughes

Mr Loverman charts the life of Barry Walker. This charismatic, warm, witty selfish egotistical force of nature takes the reader along with him on the thundering rollercoaster of his life seeing first hand the enormous impact his secrets have on those around him.

The author’s clever use of dialect and historic references bring the era, lifestyle and culture to life, bringing to the fore the dangers someone like Barry faced.

This is a well written, thought provoking, clever book. The supporting characters are well rounded and believable, sharing their relationship with Barry and the effect he has on them – in particular Morris who remains loyal, selfless and supportive through it all.

But the star of the show is Barry, from his smart clothes to witty one-liners, he truly jumps from the page into your head and despite his flaws you desperately want things to work out for him.

For me the sign of a really good book is being left at the end wanting to know what happens next, to feel sad my time with the characters is over. This is exactly how I felt at the end of Mr Loverman and I do hope Bernadine Evaristo is planning a sequel.

Elain O’Brien

I really enjoyed the book and thought the author wrote about a sensitive topic very well through Britain’s older Caribbean community. The way she described her characters made them alive in my head, and you laughed with them one moment then felt sorry for them the next. The story line was excellently done and it shows how the pressure to conform to what is expected can make people lead double lives, which effects them and everybody around them. Would highly recommend this book and shall read other books she has written.

Gill Gray

When I was given this book, I was dubious to say the least, as, reading the back cover, this is not a book I would normally read, and one that I would have passed over in a bookshop. How wrong could I be! This book was a gem and a delight to read. Barrington Walker was a great character and the reader could not help but love him: flamboyant, sassy and a lovable rogue, a 74-year-old West Indian man with a long-suffering wife, two quirky daughters and a secret longstanding homosexual relationship with his childhood friend Morris. What a story! It was funny, and poignant at the same time and thoroughly enjoyable. And Carmel, his long-suffering wife was not all she seemed and had her secrets too! – A clever twist to the story. An easy read and a satisfying happy ending – what more could you want? Highly recommended.

Wendy Rowley

Overall I enjoyed this story. I thought the interplay between the characters was believable although some of the “history” of each of the members was a bit over the top.

I liked how the author showed you both sides of the story for Barry and Carmel so that you weren’t swayed by Barry’s own opinion of his wife and could in fact come to admire Carmel.

I must admit it took me some time to read but I think that was because I was struggling with concentration myself rather than down to the writing. I would give the book a score of 8/10

Pauline Moss

The back cover’s summary of the book was an encouragement to start reading. Initially I thought it would be a story with stereotypical West Indian characters. Feckless Fathers whom never stay around to help bring up their children. We were introduced to the characters that seemed normal but as the story evolved we learned of their complicated lives. They came to England with high expectations for their futures. Although Barry deceived his wife, he did stay around and provide for them financially. I felt all of the characters had sad lives and some lived double ones, all deceiving one another. The language and descriptions were vivid. The changing styles of writing were awkward to understand at first but as the book progressed became easier and the story flowed well. By the end of the book every character’s life had changed and most for the better. Barry and Carmel happy with their partners. Barry’s grandson, Daniel, has inherited his grandfather’s ambitions and will be successful because of Barry’s influences. I enjoyed this book and will look for others by this author.

Diane Breeden

I can’t get along with this book at all.

The description on the back cover of the book is accurate but I could not engage with any of the characters and as a consequence gave up at page 112.

I thought the subject and story were very interesting but felt that the author over complicated the telling of same.

Jo Rennox

Barrington Walker is an entertaining narrator who has been living a double life for all of his adult life. He starts his descriptive of his life with humour and keeps the reader entertained as he slowly gives clues of the lifestyle he lives and the lifestyle he wants to live.

Culture and homophobia have dictated the way he’s led his life the best way he can without revealing to all his true self. Evaristo does not hide the empathy she feels for this character.

However, poor Carmel is not shown much sympathy as for half of the story she is portrayed in Barry’s narrative as a harridan and a nag. Even when she is handed the narrative her story does not flow with the ease and humour that Barry uses. She has suffered, gone through terrible depressions, been untouched and seemingly unloved by her husband but has managed to educated herself and achieve a worthwhile career. She is given a little joy with her lover but there is not much character padding given to Carmel.

I believed in the story for the majority of the book but once Barrington drunkenly revealed his sexuality I felt it became contrived and manipulated to a speedy conclusion where everyone lived kind of Happy Ever After!

I cringed whilst reading about Maxine’s gay friends and the club scene, the characters seemed like shallow parodies of people who just happen to be gay.  I couldn’t understand why after 60+ years of hiding his sexuality Barry suddenly ‘revealed’ all to the uninvited youths in ‘Carmel’s Lounge’.

Overall the book had a slow start with a speedy finish where the Walker family are all given a rosier future.

My initial enthusiasm waned and I didn’t really ‘care’ at the end.

Read more about our Reading Group projects here.

 

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