Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story-Helen Dunmore

The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story

Helen Dunmore

Atlantic Monthly, Oct 2 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9780802120601

In 1952, Great Britain still digs out of the horrors of WWII. Newlyweds Isabel and Philip Carey move to rural Yorkshire where he takes over a medical practice. Philip dives into his work as a country doctor while Isabel suffers from loneliness and a sense she does not belong here rusticating.

On a lonely night, Isabel finds an RAF greatcoat buried in the top of a cupboard by apparently their landlady Mrs. Elizabeth Atkinson. To keep warm on this freezing evening, Isabel puts on the coat and falls asleep. Not long afterward, the ghost of the owner of the coat Alec, a late RAF officer, taps from the outside on the flat’s window. The isolated woman and the dead pilot begin a tryst.

This is an exciting 1950s ghost story that switches between the “present” (1952) and WWII as Isabel obsesses over her new “friend”. Although none of the triangle protagonists are fully developed beyond their prime role, fans will appreciate the tale of the Greatcoat.

Harriet Klausner

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