T is for Trumpet today. This was one of the first books I
read after moving to the ‘deen for university as part of my course work, and I
was just blown away by it. I think I read it in about 3 hours (the first time)
which although I am a VERY fast reader, is still kinda fast for my course
reading (normally about a day max). The story just pulled me in, and I had a
compulsive need to finish it, and not put it down.
It is about a famous trumpet player called Joss Moody who,
on his death, is revealed to be a woman. This is highly controversial as he had
married a woman, and they had adopted a child. The entire world believed he was
a man. Joss Moody dressed and talked and walked exactly like a man. The book
chronicles different characters’ reactions to Moody’s revelation, and how they
are coping in their grief. These include his wife Millie, and his son Colman.
This book covers some pretty hard hitting themes of gender
roles, and what exactly gender is. Gender is a performance, it is something you
do for society to make yourself ‘normal’. Women put on dresses and lipstick,
and men shave (or not) and wear suits. I am being simplistic and stereotypical,
but the concept remains the same. We do things in order to perform for society.
And if people do not conform to that stereotype, then they are ostracized and
shunned. Even in today’s society which is more liberal than in past generations,
would find it shocking to not conform to society (even when conforming is
rebelling against, those who do not are considered odd).
Jackie Kay: the author
Joss loved Millie. Millie loved Joss. She grieved when he was
gone. No matter what choices he made, to be a man, or a woman, she loved him.
This is the true essence of Trumpet, love. Even if it was unconventional, or
weird, or even ‘unnatural’ as some would say, both Millie and Joss found true
love in one another. This is the most poignant point of the novel, the love between these two people.
Jackie Kay, the author, said in an interview that she wanted to write a piece of literature that was like a piece of music, which I believe is true. Millie's narrative is like the base beat to Joss' life. Colman's harmony starts off angry, and then calms out to a mild acceptance. Every chapter adds a new harmony to the symphony of Joss Moody's life.
Have you read any books that you just were not able to put down? Comment below.