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 ...
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You won't find plastic fangs or Dulux blood in Helen Dunmore's perfect little ghost story ... Dunmore conveys a shivery menace and concealed tragedy; this is the most elegant literary flesh-creeper since Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. - The Times
An atmospheric and accomplished ghost story. - Woman & Home
This is a haunting and exquisitely crafted tale where the line between the real and the imaginary becomes blurred. - Glamour
The Greatcoat is a well-written ghost story that observes the traditions of the genre without subsiding into pastiche ... Dunmore uses motifs and themes as a kind of Greek chorus ... these are subtly deployed, and enhance the atmosphere in this disturbing, thoughtful novel. - The Literary Review
A powerful evocation of period, and the tricks the mind can play on itself, its unadorned prose builds a chilling effect reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw. - Prospect
The art of the ghost story requires delicate balance. The supernatural itself does not have to be convincing. It is enough that characters in the fiction are convinced by it. This was Scott's way in, to give only one example, The Bride of Lammermoor and also Buchan's in that remarkable and uncanny novel, The Dancing Floor and in his short stories about the supernatural. It is Dunmore's here too, in this beautifully written tale, and because she achieves this delicate balance, it comes off splendidly. - The Scotsman
Her latest work is not a new departure but a development of familiar strengths: drawing us in to a compelling fictional world, populated by characters who live and love with vivid self-awareness. Dunmore has a sharp eye, and a fine-pen, for the hairline cracks in a new marriage ... 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. - Guardian
An unnerving breathlessly told love affair - Sainsbury’s Magazine
Sweetly spooky and romantic tale - Press Association
Beautifully written - Oxford Times
a sweetly spooky and romantic tale - Style (Cambridge)
the best kind of ghostly tale - one that has you pondering its implications - and checking the back of dark cupboards - long after the final page - i, Independent
Helen Dunmore is an internationally acclaimed writer whose works include novels, poetry, short stories and writing for children. She has won the Orange Prize for A Spell of Winter, the McKitterick Prize and first prize in the National Poetry Competition; she has also been shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Novel Award. Her books have been translated into twenty-eight languages, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. The Greatcoat is her first ghost story.