The Greatcoat


With rationing and housing shortages continuing in 1952 England, Dr. Philip Carey and his new wife, Isabel, make do with a cold, shabby flat near a former RAF airfield. As Philip works day and night to build up his practice, Isabel fills her days keeping house, then taking long walks to the airfield to escape. One night when Philip leaves on a call, Isabel sees a man in the front window who is dressed in an RAF greatcoat similar to an old, musty one she took from a cupboard to keep warm. He gestures with familiarity, but she shuts the curtains in fear. Later, the soldier returns to the window, and this time Isabel lets him in as he seems to know the place.

What follows is a journey into a ghostly past-made-present where Isabel allows herself to share the life of this mysterious soldier, Alec. Their encounters seem normal to Isabel, but tension builds for the reader, wondering when Philip will discover them. The nonstop intertwining of lives forms a labyrinthine plot, arriving at an explosive climax. Revealing surprises and sordid secrets kept hidden for years come to light. Much happens in so short a novel, but it is definitely worth the read.

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