The Greatcoat

The Greatcoat - Helen Dunmore It’s just after WWII; rations are still in place, food and fuel shortages are still the norm, decent housing is hard to come by, blackout curtains still hang in some windows, the bombings are still a fresh memory and some don’t realize it’s all over. Newlyweds Isabel and Philip Carey have moved in to a small rental flat in Yorkshire, where Philip is beginning his medical practice. More often than not Isabel finds herself alone in the tiny, cold flat. Looking for more blankets that she is sure the stingy landlady has hidden away, Isabel discovers a “Greatcoat” tucked into the back of a cupboard. Although it is not a blanket Isabel decides the heavy wool coat will suit just fine to keep her warm through the night. Soon enough Isabel becomes aware that the coat brings with it more than warmth and learns that sometimes people are not exactly as they appear.

This was a short book, a simple story and, easily read. The scene Ms. Dunmore sets is contained; a small flat in a small village and, down the road, a deserted airfield. As far as the characters go, there are four main ones and everyone else is pretty much a walk-on. The limited cast and venue of the book aid in building the mystery and the suspense because it is clear to the reader that nothing goes unnoticed (almost). The mystery and suspense carry through to a very satisfying ending that I really didn’t see coming until, well … until the very end.