cover image Mr. Loverman

Mr. Loverman

Bernardine Evaristo. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-61775-272-8

Evaristo's (Blonde Roots) enjoyable new novel follows Barrington Walker, a 74 year-old Antiguan man living in Hackney, London. A husband, father, and grandfather, Barry is a respectable elder with deep pockets and antiquated views of masculinity, but he's also a flamboyant character with deep affections for retro suits, highbrow literature, and his childhood friend and gay lover, Morris. In the twilight of life, Barry is out of patience with his bitter wife, Carmel, and their disintegrated marriage, and he longs to accept Morris's offer to move in together. Barry tells his story in a winning mix of patois and eloquent "speaky-spoky," that is insightful and often hilarious as he confronts his "scaredy-cat" fears and the probable ramifications of finally following his heart. Interspersed chapters from Carmel's point of view highlight her experiences in 10 year intervals, with poetic sentence fragments mixed with longing, self-talk, and prayer; these monologues lend balance to the narrative and trouble the reader's alliance. Barry's story parades a wide range of characters of varying depth and complication, and pivotal conflicts that don't always beget significant consequences. Despite an ending too neatly tied, Evaristo crafts a colorful look at a unique character confronting social normativity with a well-tuned voice and a resonant humanity. (Apr.)