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 ...
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.
This is a haunting and exquisitely crafted tale where the line between the real and the imaginary becomes blurred.
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.
An atmospheric and accomplished ghost story.
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.
Written by her son, Patrick Dunmore, this extract from Helen Dunmore's final work Girl, Balancing is a beautiful tribute to Helen Dunmore, writer – but also to Helen Dunmore, a dearly-loved mother.