Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo

Mr Loverman is the zesty LGBTQIA romance novel by Bernadine Evaristo, published in 2013 by Penguin Books. The audiobook was published in the same year by WF Howes and was exceptionally narrated by James Goode. It has a running time of 9.58 hours.

Synopsis: Barrington Jedidiah Walker aka Mr Loverman is a smooth, extremely dapper seventy four-year-old gentleman who brings the Caribbean spice of Antigua to Hackney, South London.

Despite his exuberant personality, Barrington, affectionately named ‘Barry’ has been unhappily married to his exacting wife, Carmel for over 30 years. Now as a retired pensioner with two grown up daughters, Donna and Maxine, he’s finally ready to face up to who he really is by following through on his plans to divorce his wife and live the rest of his remaining years with his childhood beau, Morris.

This novel was tasteful, zingy and flavoursome. It fully captured the essence of South London and its West Indian community, through vibrant cultural references to food and language and through its characterisation. The relationship between Barry and Morris was irresistibly amusing as we read about their constant trifling but lovable squabbles but also serious in the way it explores the struggle they each have faced because of their sexuality.

There were also powerfully conveyed flashback moments to Carmel’s adolescence back in Antigua and more recent years during the time she spent working for the council. Whilst we were reading this perspective, the writing switched to a second person narrative and I thought it had a clear sense of purpose, as though Barry seeks to reconcile with the disillusionment he feels in his marriage, although it could be interpreted in other ways. These flashback sequences were narrated to perfection by James Goode, I felt every drop of emotion in his reading.

Evaristo gave me flavoursome writing and hilarious tongue-in-cheek banter that left me just as smitten as Barry and Morris are with each other. I loved reading the story of their persevering love affair and the way in which Evaristo confronts the deeply ingrained colonial homophobia that has kept people like Barry closeted. This novel goes even deeper by boldly addressing other issues such as gentrification and domestic abuse but most importantly, it beautifies the pursuit of romance even in one’s older years. Evaristo is quickly become one of my favourite authors!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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