The Greatcoat, Helen Dunmore

It’s been a while since I have featured a book in my search for magic, so inspired by Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate, I decided to check out another of the new supernatural tales commissioned by Hammer publishing. Apart from the fact that it is rather brief, and readable in one sitting, Helen’s Dunmore’s novel The Greatcoat  has little in common with the Winterson’s work, except of course for the fact that it is decidedly spooky and most definitely magical.

The Greatcoat, Helen Dunmore

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

The early 1950s were a tough time in Britain, the country mired in post-war austerity. Food was still in short supply, moral standards were strict, life was often pretty grey. For Isabel Carey, a newlywed setting up home in rural Yorkshire, things certainly are not easy. Her husband is trying to establish himself as a GP, and working all the hours, and their grim rented flat is cold and forbidding. The days are long and lonely. But when Isabel finds an RAF greatcoat folded up in one of the closets, things begin to change. That night she hears a knock at the window, and an unexpected guest arrives – a young man in RAF uniform.

The Greatcoat is different from your average ‘haunted house’ ghost story. Much of it is rather romantic, as Isabel develops an inevitable bond with her mysterious visitor. Like every good thriller, the story unravels itself slowly at first, but gathers speed as the truth is gradually revealed and the narrative rumbles towards a nerve-wracking finale. Dunmore explores the shadowy world of memory, and as Isabel’s own complex past mixes with that of Alec the ghostly pilot, the borders between reality and the supernatural begin to blur. The Greatcoat is elegantly written, atmospheric and more than a little sad. Strange things happen when people are lost and lonely, often with tragic consequences. But will the ending be a happy one for Isabel Carey? I’m not going to tell you, so there is only one way to find out…

http://www.helendunmore.com

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