The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

The ghost story, The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore was book of the month in my book group. We had not read a ghost story for a while so everybody was looking forward to this one.

The Greatcoat is set just after World War II, in the summer of 1954, newly wed Isabel Carey arrives in a Yorkshire town with her husband Philip. As a GP he spends much of his time working, while Isabel tries hard to adjust to the realities of married life. Life is not easy: she feels out-of-place and constantly judged by the people around her, so she spends much of her time alone.
One cold winter night, Isabel finds an old RAF greatcoat in the back of a cupboard that she uses to help keep warm. Once wrapped in the coat she is beset by dreams. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled to hear a knock at her window, and to meet for the first time the intense gaze of a young Air Force pilot, handsome, blond and blue-eyed, staring in at her from outside.
His name is Alec, and his powerfully haunting presence both disturbs and excites Isabel. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin a delicious affair. But nothing could have prepared her for the truth about Alec’s life, nor the impact it will have on her own marriage. 

Although it is a ghost story, The Greatcoat is not in the slightest bit scary and this was a disappointment. Also Dunmore writes so simplisticly, it was almost as if this were a crossover novel. I also felt a little disappointed with the ending it just felt a bit abrupt and sudden for me.

I was disappointed in The Greatcoat and would not look out for another book by this author, but neither would I avoid it.

Val Penny


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