My first thought when I finished this book was ‘good things happen to not so good people’.
A story about an elderly Caribbean gay man – Mr Barrington Jedidiah Walker Esq (I have no idea what the esq was about since he was a retired machinist or similar, not a lawyer) – who had been married to Carmel since he was about 20, but secretly in love with Morris all that time. He and Morris were decreet enough to keep their secret hidden from Carmel, but she was about the only one who didn’t know. Carmel (who late in the book we find out had an affair with a work colleague 10 years earlier) had to return home to attend to her father’s funeral and Barry barely surviving on his own, decided he was going to divorce her when she returned. When he ‘came out’ to his grandson in a drunken haze, his second daughter (single, about to turn 40) embraced his lifestyle choice and took him out to gay bars. Carmel returned from Antigia a new women, had reunited with a high school flame and was going to return for good after she divorced Barry, which she started proceedings immediately.
Would Barry have actually left her if Carmel hadn’t left him? I doubt it. He was the centre of his own universe, he could come and go as he pleased. He had a
maid wife to take care of the domestic things. He built a property empire (I have no idea how) and lent property or money to those who needed it, particularly his second daughter who he raised and subsequently favoured, after Carmel suffered horrible PND. He was frightened about coming out and for good reason – he’d been on the receiving end of a beating or two over the years. But he also didn’t like change, still dressing as the gent on the front cover of the book, still loving Carmel’s cooking in the old way.
We found out a lot about Barry, as the narrator, and a fair bit about Carmel, who had her own chapters. These were written without punctuation, a free flowing of her thoughts, as it were. This style was very distracting – No wonder Barry was always running away from her. The other characters where underdeveloped. Morris was the love of his life for more than 60 years, but we didn’t really get any insights into why (other than being buff in his early 70s). The daughters were only just beginning to be explored when the book finished: 300 pages, you can’t fit a lot of character development in.) The language in the book was as if an elderly West Indian man was speaking to you, which took a lot of getting used to. There were some references that I didn’t understand.
But everyone seemed to live happily ever after – I guess is never too late for happiness and to be your true self.
Rating: 3 stars (book review scale) Book Club book January 2017 (Not withstanding that every time I thought of the title, Shaggy’s Mr Boombastic ear-wormed its way in… “Mr Lover Lover” even if it was in reference to Shabba’s Mr Loverman)check my