Book Reviews

The Greatcoat (Hammer) by Helen Dunmore

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 272 Pages.

Published: 30 August 2012 by Hammer

ISBN: 0099564947

EAN: 9780099564942

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


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Lack of Atmosphere & Development

This is more of a ghost story than a horror story despite being written under the umbrella of Hammer.

Newly married couple, Philip & Isabel, move to Yorkshire where Philip is a new partner in a GP practice. It isĀ  1952, rationing is still part of daily life & the memories of the war are still very raw. Isabel struggles to make a life for herself as a Doctor's wife. In fact she seems to struggle to do very much at all; the shopping, the housework & cooking all seem to be a daily challenge. Isabel is lonely & has too much time on her hands. Into this appears Alec. An RAF pilot who comes to visit for short periods when Philip is working.

The fact that this is not a full length book but more of a novella means that the plot & characters are not as developed as they could have been. There are many things that are taken for granted in this book which left me feeling rather frustrated. When Alec comes knocking on the window why does Isabel let him in? More to the point why does she let a strange man in over & over again? Although struggling a bit with married life she doesn't seem ready for an affair!

The Landlady walking backwards & forards in her flat above is a strange character. Although we find out who she is & her connection wih Alec later in the book I was not totally satisfied. How & why is she driving the events with Alec?

There are too many holes & not enough plot development in this book. Helen Dunmore is an excellent author but this book does not do her justice. I feel that had the basic plot been developed into a full length book, this could have been so much better. We could have come to understand Isabel, Philip & the Landlady so much better. There is little atmosphere in this book, little sense of impending doom or fear for Isabel.

This book has been likened to "The Woman in Black" by Susan Hill. In my opinion this book is far from comparable.

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