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The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story by Helen…
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The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story (edition 2012)

by Helen Dunmore

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1871463,175 (3.25)31
Member:JenMDB
Title:The Greatcoat: A Ghost Story
Authors:Helen Dunmore
Info:Atlantic Monthly Press (2012), Edition: Uncorrected Proof Paperback, Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:WWII, ghost story

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The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

1210 (1) 1950s (9) 2012 (5) 2013 (2) 20th century (3) 21st century (2) Britain (3) British (2) default (2) England (6) fiction (34) Galleys (1) ghost stories (15) ghosts (10) historical fiction (10) Kindle (3) marriage (2) nook (2) novel (3) read (2) read in 2012 (5) read in 2013 (5) supernatural (4) thriller (2) to-read (10) UK (3) UK author (1) unread (3) WWII (11) Yorkshire (3)

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» See also 31 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This is a ghost story but it is sad and painful rather than particularly frightening or menacing. The characters are mostly well rounded and believable and the plot intriguing. It was a good read but not a great one. It is hard to say what was missing. The way the story wrapped up was unsatisfying. There was a large gap in time which was swept over and there was a crash scene which was described too often. However, on the whole, I enjoyed this book. It was gripping and an easy read but more depth would have helped. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Feb 26, 2014 |
Helen Dunmore has a easy storytelling style and I was quickly caught up in this ghost story set in the early 1950s. Isabel is new wife, who has moved to a new community with her doctor husband. She's lonely, unskilled in her new domestic role, and adrift from her familiar, bookish moorings. The landlady upstairs irritates her with either her pacing back and forth on the floor above, or with her crusty presence. Their tiny furnished apartment is cold and Isabel, in search of extra blankets, finds an old, heavy military greatcoat tucked into a blind corner of the cupboard. It's a bit dusty, but it's warm.

With the appearance of the greatcoat, strange things begin to happen; a man appears outside her window, then at her front door... I don't want to give too much away except that we are drawn back to the war and the nearby air base.

The easy storytelling style and the 200 page length makes this book a quick read. It's a good ghost story, engaging at times, interesting in its period detail, but I can't rave about it. We all know ghost stories are really more about the character who sees the ghost or ghosts than the ghost themselves, and the change in that character. Here is where I think the story just misses the mark, and I can't quite put my finger on why I think that, perhaps because Isabel was so easily complicit, but it's also possible that the menace wasn't quite menacing enough.... Conclusion: a good, short, interesting read but not great. ( )
  avaland | Jan 21, 2014 |
The Greatcoat is set in postwar Britain, in a Yorkshire town and its abandoned airbase. The story centers around a newly married young woman who is finding it hard to adjust to life as a country doctor's wife. She finds an old RAF greatcoat in the cupboard of their rented rooms and puts it on their bed in an attempt to stay warm. The greatcoat is a kind of talisman which brings back a young RAF pilot.

Helen Dunmore is an excellent writer and I found the story to be very well written and quite haunting in places. However, the story seemed a little too contrived at times and ended rather abruptly, giving you the feeling that the writer was bound and determined to finish the novel in under 200 pages. Overall, the book was enjoyable but not one I would list as a must read.
( )
  Bookishhorseygal | Jan 3, 2014 |
The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore is a 'ghost story' set in the 1950s English countryside. It's told by Is, newly married to a young GP who finds an old RAF uniform greatcoat hidden away in a cupboard at the flat they are renting from the reclusive and enigmatic landlady, Mrs Atkinson. The coat transmits some kind of other-world energy to Is, who begins a love affair with its former owner.

This short book has all the trademark Dunmore touches - slightly disconnected female protagonist, off-kilter relationships and a progressive disintegration of normality. In a way, her natural style lends itself to the creation of an atmosphere conducive to developing a ghost story. For me though, The Greatcoat just wasn't frightening enough (not that all ghost stories have to be frightening, although I think that's a must), and if it hadn't been billed as such, I wouldn't automatically of categorised it as one. The writing's up to Dunmore's usual high standard,and I didn't dislike the book, but I can't rave about its ghost story credentials.

© Koplowitz 2013 ( )
  Ant.Harrison | Apr 28, 2013 |
The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore is a 'ghost story' set in the 1950s English countryside. It's told by Is, newly married to a young GP who finds an old RAF uniform greatcoat hidden away in a cupboard at the flat they are renting from the reclusive and enigmatic landlady, Mrs Atkinson. The coat transmits some kind of other-world energy to Is, who begins a love affair with its former owner.

This short book has all the trademark Dunmore touches - slightly disconnected female protagonist, off-kilter relationships and a progressive disintegration of normality. In a way, her natural style lends itself to the creation of an atmosphere conducive to developing a ghost story. For me though, The Greatcoat just wasn't frightening enough (not that all ghost stories have to be frightening, although I think that's a must), and if it hadn't been billed as such, I wouldn't automatically of categorised it as one. The writing's up to Dunmore's usual high standard,and I didn't dislike the book, but I can't rave about its ghost story credentials.

© Koplowitz 2013 ( )
  Ant.Harrison | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
The Greatcoat is more reminiscent of classic children's time-travel fiction, Tom's Midnight Garden or Charlotte Sometimes or Alison Uttley's Traveller in Time, than of Poe or MR James. Those books give an innocent generation ways of knowing historical trauma – perhaps the only preparation for the injustices of the present and the future – often using the possessions or dwellings of the dead as the key to time-travel, which is in itself a form of haunting. So too does The Greatcoat. We all know that young men die in war, and that they are brave and skilled and also frightened, and that women's lives are distorted by these deaths. Dunmore's gift, familiar from The Siege and The Betrayal, is to use a finely drawn domestic setting to show the great events of European history on a human scale. She doesn't need "horror" to spook her readers; our past is bad enough.
 
But where this novel stands out is in its wonderful sketches of the utter creepiness of life in the Careys' dark little flat....Fans of Dunmore's Russian novels may struggle with this new direction. The Siege and The Betrayal were brilliant because they fleshed out the real, human details of huge, historical events. This novel adds an extra layer of unreality to fiction, and calls for a reader who is really willing to suspend disbelief. In that sense, it is a perfect ghost story, that will reward Hammer horror readers as well as open-minded Dunmore fans. This ghostly, literary war story could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099564939, Hardcover)

A terrifyingly atmospheric ghost story by the Orange-prize-winning Helen Dunmore.
 
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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:58 -0400)

In the summer of 1954, young wife, 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. It isn't easy.

(summary from another edition)

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