Mr Loverman – Bernardine Evaristo – 2013 – LGBT Contemporary

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Goodreads Summary

Barrington Jedidiah Walker.
Barry to his friends.
Trouble to his wife.

Seventy-four years old, Antiguan born and bred, flamboyant Hackney personality Barry is known for his dapper taste and fondness for retro suits.

He is a husband, father and grandfather.

And for the past sixty years, he has been in a relationship with his childhood friend and soulmate, Morris.

Wife Carmel knows Barry has been cheating on her, but little does she know what is really going on. When their marriage goes into meltdown, Barrington has big choices to make.

Mr Loverman is a groundbreaking exploration of Britain’s older Caribbean community, which explodes cultural myths and fallacies, and shows how deep and far-reaching the consequences of prejudice and fear can be. It is also a warm-hearted, funny and life-affirming story about a character as mischievous, cheeky and downright lovable as any you’ll ever meet.

Review

My favourite character was Morris – I loved finding out more about him, although I think the story would be so different if it was from his perspective. In particular I love the scene of him in the gay bar as you can tell he is so ready to explore that part of himself as a proud out gay man.

The story is told from Barry’s point of view. I think one of the strengths of the book is how Barry develops from quite a misogynistic, almost homophobic guy to being able to confront things he’s kept hidden all his life. It’s great to read a book with elderly protagonists – I rarely read anything with MCs above 40!
I loved the way Evaristo switched between eras in Barry’s life to show how he has gotten to where he is in his 70s. The way she describes both eras and places is very expressive, almost as if you are there in the moment with Barry – I sometimes struggle to visualise settings in books but she was so expressive, yet never overdoing it.
I loved the way the book ended – at the start of the book I really didn’t like Barry and I wasn’t sure whether to continue reading but as I continued the book got better and better. The final chapter is beautiful because it sums up Barry and Morris’ relationship, including all the flaws but still gave me an uplifting feeling.

One part of the book I wasn’t as keen on was the chapters from Carmel’s perspective. At first I couldn’t understand why Evaristo had included them as I found Carmen an unsympathetic character, but even as I understood her motives more I didn’t like the style they were written in, which was quite free-form.
I gave the book 5/5. I think this is such an important novel for the LGBT canon because it’s not often you read about m/m romances in such a realistic way in that time frame or from characters of colour.

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