Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Greatcoat - Helen Dunmore

Ghost stories? I can take them or leave them. I enjoyed "The Small Hand" by Susan Hill, but some of the more famous titles have left me cold. This short novel, more a slit in the fabric of time than a ghost story, nevertheless is haunting, in the best possible way. Isobel, just married to a newly qualified doctor, lives in rented accommodation on the ground floor of a converted house. It's always cold, the landlady is always nosy and Isobel has no job (her husband would rather she remain at home and be supported by him). Tucked away at the back of an old cupboard she finds an RAF greatcoat, which she uses to keep warm in bed, the quality of the blankets supplied by the landlady not being the thickest or the best. And then, one night, there is a tap at the kitchen window. Her husband is out on a call, and she thinks that the tap is himself. But it isn't, it's a fellow in RAF uniform.... Spooky in the best way, well written and the clues are there - but you don't notice them for a while. Less than 250 pages, and no hardship to read. If you like ghost stories I think you will like this one, and if you don't, why not try it?