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The Greatcoat (Hammer) [Paperback]

Helen Dunmore
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 2.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Hardcover 7.11  
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Audio, CD, Audiobook, Unabridged 12.96  
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Book Description

30 Aug 2012 Hammer

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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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hammer (30 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099564947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099564942
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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)

"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)

"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)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly constructed haunting story 1 Feb 2012
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Set in 1952 in Yorkshire, a young couple move into a rented flat. Philip is the new, young doctor while his new wife Isabel struggles with the isolated life with no friends or family and Philip's frequent absence due to the demands of his job. Things take a turn to the spooky when, waking from under the warmth of the old greatcoat Isabel finds in the flat, she hears a tapping at the window and finds there an RAF pilot, Alec, who appears to know Isabel intimately.

Ghost stories are not what you might expect from Helen Dunmore and this novella has her characteristic intelligence and strong writing. The central plot structure, of which I can of course not reveal, is very clever and the ending is suitably satisfying. However, the reader is left confused for much of the short book about time-frames (without giving too much away, we switch between 1952 and World War 2) and the brevity of the book doesn't allow for much beyond the basic characterization facts of the protagonists.

Of course some of the reader's confusion is justified in the sense that Isabel herself is equally confused, although her fascination with Alec overrides any great questioning on her part. It is of course ridiculous to expect a ghost story to fit with reality, but there are certain areas where Isabel appears rather too accepting of strange events.

Dunmore effectively captures the haunting feeling of the story but my sense was that we see rather too much of the workings of the story rather than getting a sense that the story develops organically. I could always see the author's hand at work in driving the story forward.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor old ghosts getting this gig 7 Aug 2012
By Kat
Format:Hardcover
I am a complete wimp but my flesh did not creep, and the only thing I was haunted by after finishing this book was the sound of my brain going "Was that it? Where's my ending? Why do we now have a four page afterword by the author?" Also: "THIS COULD HAVE BEEN SO GOOD."

The afterword is presumably to pad out a novella which Hammer, for reasons known only to them, have padded out with great papery gaps either side of the writing. This is a novel that is slight in length but also very much in content.

I zoomed through this in a couple of hours thanks to the addictive single-string structure of following Isobel, but while I couldn't put it down, I was fundamentally unable to care for any of the characters either. None of the developed plot threads go anywhere, or build to anything more than a vague hint; and not a satisfyingly teasing hint either, more a hint of someone who has gone off in search of a digestive and forgotten to do anything more with it.

The back of the book is written rather amazingly like a Point Horror ("outside is a young man. A pilot. <new par> And he wants to come in..." - and I SWEAR I read that story in about 1993 - but this is the most nerve-shredding part of the book. The ghost himself seems to be a nice chap, which is all fine, there is an obligatorily unnerving landlady, but her potential for supreme creepiness is thrown away a few pages before the afterword.

The end of the book is so depressing in its lack of chill or satisfaction that the author's well-meaning list of influences in that bloody afterword serves more to remind you of what could have been, than what you've just read. On a positive note there were some great descriptions, and budding characters who sadly were never built on.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Greatcoat 2 Feb 2012
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Helen Dunmore has long been one of my favourite novellists, so I was intrigued to read this new ghost story from her. A novella in length, it is a moving and carefully crafted story.

Isabel is the new, young wife of Philip Carey. Only married for two months, Philip has a new job as a doctor at Kirby Minster, a country town. Their first home together is a ground floor flat with a creepy landlady. It is 1952 and England is still in the grip of rationing and memories of the war. Isabel's own parents died in Singapore and she is feeling isolated and a failure. What woman cannot relate to the feeling that other women are judging and looking down at her attempts to be the adult wife she almost feels she is pretending to be? As her steak and kidney pudding goes wrong and the butcher gives her the fatty cuts of meat, Isabel and Philip grow distant.

Then Isabel discovers an RAF greatcoat in a cupboard, when she is cold one night, and is woken by a man tapping at the window. The man knows her name and she knows his. As Isabel loses touch with her husband, she wonders whose memories she is having and why she is driven to walk to the deserted airfield outside the town. This is not a scary book, but it is very atmospheric and sad, with good characters and sense of place and time. Helen Dunmore is really one of the greatest authors we have and she has pulled off this new direction with ease.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big disappointment 30 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback
I love Helen Dunmore's books - I've never read one I haven't enjoyed. But this was a big disappointment. I can't put the reviews on the cover together with the book at all. It's not badly written of course, but it's not remotely scary, nor even atmospheric. It's got all the ingredients of a stunning ghost story: deserted airfields, post-war scarcity, a strange landlady, a lonely young wife and to top it all, fog. But... they don't add up to what they could. So although I did finish it, it didn't work for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good service.
Published 3 days ago by John Hitchcox.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
ok
Published 3 days ago by C. R. Mandall
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has occupied my thoughts since I read it ...
This book has occupied my thoughts since I read it. Now I want to read more by this author. I must have read and re-read it three times and each time a new piece of the jigsaw has... Read more
Published 11 days ago by mariana
3.0 out of 5 stars Under the Hammer
I think Hammer trying to make this fit with their horror/ghost genre has led to an inappropriate cover and therefore expectations. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Elspeth
1.0 out of 5 stars The Greatcoat
I have always liked Helen Dunmore's books before but this was just silly - a ghost story that did not work - I read it for a literature class and some of the students and the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Morant
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of valuable time
Easy to read, but unmoving , unrealistic and pointless. Not my cup of tea. I would not recommend it to anyone.
Published 1 month ago by SUE HUTCHINSON
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Bookclub choice
This was a recent choice at my bookclub. It wasn't something I would have chosen to read normally but I greatly enjoyed it and would recommend it.
Published 2 months ago by anonofderbyshire
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The description was very atmospheric and reading it meant slipping between time almost without noticing. A great read - I would recommend it.
Published 3 months ago by Lynne H
4.0 out of 5 stars The greatcoat
Depends if you are a believer in spirits, Which I am having had salutary experiences of them, but takes a bit of imagination to be convincing.
Published 4 months ago by norah joslin
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
kept me enthralled all the way through the book.This was a good story built from around an old war coat.
Published 4 months ago by Mrs. M. Hall
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