The Greatcoat

I borrowed this book from the public library more or less a month ago. I usually take a look at the English books every time I go, and when I put an eye on one of them it always comes home with me, most of the times without even knowing the title or the author in advance, just like this time.

The greatcoat is set in the 1950s, when a young couple move to a little British village, which once had a military base, to live there because the husband has got a job as a doctor. Isabel, his wife, is left almost night and day alone at home, with nothing else to do but housework and get bored. Their landlady doesn’t help either since she is an unfriendly woman who spends her days making noises and walking around on the floor above Isabel’s. But one freezing day Isabel finds a greatcoat in a wardrobe which happens to bring a strange young man to her flat; she won’t stay alone anymore.

You can’t say the synopsis is not appealing, but to be honest, I made a mistake with this book. I think this is my first ghost story – I have only watched films and TV series – and I was sure I was going to be hooked on it, but it turned out to be the opposite: I didn’t enjoy it at all.

The ghost is a pilot who fought in the II World War, and he haunts Isabel because of the greatcoat, which was his. The reason why he is there is quite predictable and the chemistry between them is just non-existent. In fact, the ghost is actually haunting the wrong woman and I never understood why the other woman, the one who really wants to see him, doesn’t try herself to use the greatcoat. Finally, there are also things that are not well explained at the end; for example, Isabel goes with that man in a motorbike and her neighbours look at her but don’t see her, so was she really there? The author doesn’t explain such things.

The only thing I can say I liked was the atmosphere of the story because it really makes perfectly sense that a ghost is there: the abandoned military base, the hostile people of the village, and all that loneliness in Isabel’s life… But would I recommend it? Not really. Your list is taking a rest this time 😉


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The Greatcoat
Helen Dunmore
Published by Hammer
260 pages
Keep calm and read 20 books in English: 1/20