I mentioned my preference for books by women of color in a previous post, and Johanna, a friend with I think pretty similar tastes (woc, but also zines and paranormal fiction) recommended Trumpet. I realized that while I do consistently enjoy books by women of color—American, immigrant-American, and Chinese and African (writing in English), I haven't done all that well with books by British women of color. I'm sorry, but Zadie Smith does nothing for me and Monica Ali less than nothing. I'm sure they're lovely women and skilled writers. Their writing styles just don't appeal to me, nor do those of the other women Brits of color I've read. Therefore it was a relief to dig into Johanna's recommendation by Nigerian-Scot Jackie Kay and realize that I was in the right place for once.
I don't think I'm spoiling anything by revealing that the central action of the book is people reacting to the death of celebrated jazz musician Joss Moody, and responding to the news that shocked all but Moody's wife, that Mr. Moody had been born Josephine Moore. The first voice you are introduced to belongs to Millicent Moody, the widow, and her story is mostly about grief and recovery. Other voices include that of their adopted son and a vampiric would-be biographer as well as the medical examiner and funeral director who are both quite surprised to encounter Mr. Moody's boobies in the course of their work.
The writing is good and lyrical, and it feels very comfortable in Millie Moody's head, even when she's sad. It feels though, as if not enough happens in Millie's story for it to stand on its own, and so these other characters are introduced. Or perhaps it's just my bias against novels told in multiple voices. (I can't help it; I just feel betrayed when the second voice takes over!) Really it seems to be the son's story, perhaps more than the widow's. He is the one whose growth is the most measurable at the end. But then again, he had a lot further to go than his mama did.