Jones provides little to the reader but equivocal statements that we cling to, as if they give us something, which we know they don't. Cove is Beckettian in prose and virtue: removing as much as possible, leaving out even the necessities, and raising questions the reader struggles to grasp ... Cove is the latest and most accomplished of Jones's works. It once again proves Jones's formidable talent. The book is confusing and demanding and damning and everything and anything and nothing. Above all else, however, Cove is beautiful, all too beautiful.
The Dig is to my mind a richer book than Cove, because it contains multitudes and sets unexpected forces in messy opposition. But Cove, Jones’s fifth novel, is both taut and impressively polymorphous ... The technical complexity of the writing is sometimes too visible; there are shifts of tense, for example, that might baffle Henry Green. But mostly the risks pay off. An elliptical frame narrative throws us out towards another, untold, story. The shape of the book depends on unforced parallels between one untranslatable sign and another ... If the modulation between 'I' and 'you' looks tricksy on the page at first, it soon feels true to the experience of tiredness, disorientation and love. It is a distinction of this brief, charged novel that if you ask at any moment 'who is speaking' it is best not to expect a final answer.
Jones’ terse lyricism, together with his repetition of resonant images and motifs, encourage the reader to fill in the gaps ... Jones strips the story down to its elemental core and much of it reads like a prose poem. His vivid descriptions allow us to feel the man’s physical discomfort and flagging spirit ... Cove is a slighter work than Jones’ previous novel, The Dig, but explores similar themes. Just as The Dig was about the rhythms of rural life, Cove is about the dangerous, unknowable rhythms of the sea. Both are about devastation — one emotional, the other physical — and both examine love, loss, memory and the will to live. Cove is a haunting meditation on trauma and human fragility.