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The Greatcoat

Helen Dunmore

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Published by Hammer, part of Cornerstone Publishing

Format: Paperback


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EAN: 9780099564942
Published: 30 Aug 2012


About the book


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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What the critics say

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

An atmospheric and accomplished ghost story.
- Woman & Home

A taut, elegantly written ghost story… Wielding her skill at bringing history to life in the small, dismal details of the post-war period, and showing off her talents as a poet in her mesmerising depiction of possession, Dunmore is on fine form here.
- The Sunday Times

Helen Dunmore's exquisitely written ghost story works its way with spooky subtlety into your imagination.
- Mail on Sunday

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

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

a sweetly spooky and romantic tale
- Style (Cambridge)

A classic ghost story ... where the novel stands out is in its wonderful sketches of the utter creepiness of life in Carey's dark little flat ... 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.
- Independent on Sunday

A great read, peopled with likely characters and a satisfyingly spooky outcome.
- Candis

I love ghost stories and this one is hugely atmospheric.
- Judy Finnigan

Dunmore evokes the loneliness of the newlywed protagonist, to haunting effect.
- Radio Times

I really enjoyed the authentic wartime detail in this book.
- Richard Madeley

Helen Dunmore’s The Greatcoat is many things—most of which can be modified with beautiful. It’s beautifully written and paced. It’s beautifully haunting. It even seems beautifully effortless as if each perfect word simply floated down to the page (although anyone who writes knows that books rarely ever happen that way).
- Pop Matters

This book is spooky, erotic and evocative. We loved it.
- Daily Express

About the Author

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.

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