The death of legendary jazz trumpeter Joss Moody exposes an extraordinary secret. Unbeknown to all but his wife Millie, Joss was a woman living as a man. The discovery is most devastating for their adopted son, Colman, whose bewildered fury brings the press to the doorstep and sends his grieving mother to the sanctuary of a remote Scottish village ...
The death of legendary jazz trumpeter Joss Moody exposes an extraordinary secret. Unbeknown to all but his wife Millie, Joss was a woman living as a man. The discovery is most devastating for their adopted son, Colman, whose bewildered fury brings the press to the doorstep and sends his grieving mother to the sanctuary of a remote Scottish village. A novel about the lengths to which people will go for love, "Trumpet" is a moving story of a shared life founded on an intricate lie, of loving deception and lasting devotion, and of the intimate workings of the human heart. 'Jackie Kay makes the unbelievable gloriously real. "Trumpet" is a love story and a lament, beautifully told' - "Time Out". 'The voices in this tender, compassionate work were still singing in my head a couple of weeks after I'd finished it' - "Observer". 'This book is all about love ...The qualities of sympathy and tenderness in the novel make it special and make Kay a writer to respect' - "Guardian".
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Publishers Weekly, 1998-12-21 A Scottish poet with a fresh and resonant voice makes her fiction debut with a novel about the life of a famous jazz musician, born female, who masquerades as a man. Like the real-life Billy Tipton, Scottish trumpet player Joss Moody has a wife, Millie, and a domestic life. No one except Millie knows the truth about his sex, which is revealed by the medical examiner only after his death. The issue of sexual identity is only one aspect of Kaye's intense and poetic narrative. Joss is black, and both he and his adopted son, Colman, suffer from pervasive racism in London. Kaye prismatically reflects Joss's life in vignettes from almost a dozen characters, some of them endearingly quirky, but the principal voices are those of Millie and Colman. Angry and bitter about having been deceived by his adoptive parents, Colman is a sour young man, without talent, drive or purpose, and his cooperation with a sleazy reporter who wants to write a tell-all book about Joss grants the narrative its main tension. Rather than sensational revelations, Kaye is interested in motivation and emotion, and her portrait of a distraught Millie is an incandescent study of grief. In conveying the nuances of an unconventional but passionate marriage, Kaye creates her own kind of prose music akin to the bittersweet melodies from Joss's trumpet. Once into the rhythm, however, Kaye cannot abandon its cadences: all the characters speak in the same short, lilting sentences and emphatic fragments, beautiful to the ear but not sufficiently differentiated. In the end, the mysteries of Joss's life remain ambiguous, but his courage in maintaining the sexual charade that allows him entr?e into the jazz world, and his legacy of love, provide the haunting motif of this richly evocative narrative. 40,000 first printing; author tour. (Mar.)
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