The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

Published by Hammer (Arrow) Books.


In the winter of 1952, Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her husband Philip, a GP. With Philip spending long hours on call, Isabel finds herself isolated and lonely as she strives to adjust to the realities of married life.


Woken by intense cold one night, she discovers an old RAF greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under it for warmth, she starts to dream. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled by a knock at her window.


Outside is a young RAF pilot, waiting to come in.


His name is Alec, and his powerful presence both disturbs and excites her. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin an intense affair. But nothing has prepared her for the truth about Alec’s life, nor the impact it will have on hers …

As I was working on my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) book during November, which I always kick off just after midnight on Halloween by way of tradition, my movie watching and reading was leaning towards all things supernatural.

And this was the perfect read to accompany my writing time in such a mindset.

Comparisons to The Woman in Black are well founded, this is equally as gripping in places and, as with many a classic ghost story, brings the past crashing into the central character’s present and also reflects on their own past at the same time.

Finely crafted and disturbing, without any reliance on gore or bloodshed, this is a story that will stay in the mind for a long time after reading it and will disturb you if ever you see a coat discarded on your own bed on a cold wintery evening.


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