Hello everyone and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well…and happy Halloween everybody!!!! This week’s blog post is going up slightly early as I’m off to Amsterdam later this week (so excited!) This post is going to be a book review of Kate Hamer’s amazing debut novel ‘The Girl In The Red Coat’. I absolutely loved it and hope this will give some of you the confidence to go and pick up a copy and read it for yourself! So, here goes…
‘The Girl In The Red Coat’ has been labelled as “pulse-racing” (Grazia), and as “more than a standard thriller. What’s most powerful here is not whodunit, or even why, but how this mother and daughter bear their separation, and the stories they tell themselves to help endure it” (Guardian). The author Rosamund Lupton said, “Beautifully written and unpredictable, I had to stop myself racing to the end to find out what happened”, and Lisa Ballantyne said, “Kate Hamer’s novel is both gripping and sensitive”.
‘The Girl In The Red Coat’ is an extremely powerful, moving read. It was released in December 2015, and is Kate Hamer’s debut novel. It was shortlisted for the 2015 Costa First Novel Award, the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and was a top ten bestseller.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like ‘The Girl In The Red Coat’. And I’m not exaggerating here. This novel is extremely unique and special. The novel opens written in Beth’s (Carmel’s mother) perspective, and she begins by recounting some of her memories from before Carmel disappears. The first three chapters narrate different memories, in which the reader first catches a glimpse into the life of Carmel. She is clearly no ordinary eight year old girl: she’s prone to getting lost and always seems to be in another world. She has a gift. The narrative then motors on to the day when Carmel goes missing at a story-telling/book festival. She loses sight of her mother and they become separated; Carmel is taken away and is about to experience a very different lifestyle.
One of the most remarkable things about this book is definitely the switch in perspectives, and the convincing nature of both Carmel and Beth as characters. Carmel’s narration was particularly interesting and eye-opening. Hamer truly has a skill here, as she is able to, very convincingly, narrate chapters in an eight year old girl’s voice. The reader is really given a true insight as to what exactly is going on in the young girl’s mind, and how “different” she is from your ordinary eight year old. The language is exactly what you’d expect of an eight year old girl, and in my opinion it really adds a unique slant to the story. It reminded me of Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’, which is also narrated from a child’s perspective, and is one of my all-time favourite books. It’s very shocking to read about exactly what happens to Carmel and how her life goes on (obviously I’m not going to go into detail about that here)! She is plunged into a completely new, unfamiliar life and struggles to cope with all the changes.
The narrative switches backwards and forwards in perspectives and in time. Beth’s narration completely contrasts to the nature of Carmel’s, as she is clearly and rightfully distraught at the disappearance of her only child. We see how Beth attempts to move on, but how she is truly scarred by what has happened and really struggles mentally. Beth’s narration often made me very emotional, as her whole being slowly deteriorates after she loses the only other person she really had in life. The story keeps switching from Carmel to Beth and back again, and we see how their lives move forwards (or don’t).
The plot thickens and the story builds and builds to an almighty climax. Parts of the story were so unbelievably shocking that I sat gawking at the open page. Gradually the tension becomes unbearable, until I was totally absorbed in the novel, and there was no chance of me putting it down even for a moment. It’s a true psychological thriller – throughout, I found myself questioning what I would do if I was in Beth’s shoes. New questions were constantly forming in my head: Would Beth and Carmel be reunited? Why was this happening to Carmel? Would they ever learn to move on?
But this novel is so much more than your standard psychological thriller. It’s a thought-provoking, meaningful, compelling read. It’s deeply emotional and heartfelt, and moved me to tears multiple times. Hamer clearly put a lot of hard work into this novel, and it really does pay off. It’s a novel about the powerful bonds that exist between a mother and daughter, and just how far each member can be bent before they eventually snap. It’s a novel about love, grief, destruction, deceit; and it’s a novel about accepting truths, and how we learn to move forwards.
And the ending. The ending was truly exceptional and I cried so much! I couldn’t fathom exactly what had happened and I was in a true state of disbelief. I tweeted Hamer immediately afterwards – I had to let her know exactly how much the novel had touched me! The whole novel moved me so much, and I think it’s such an important read. ‘The Girl In The Red Coat’ truly puts into perspective exactly what is important in life – health and love, family and friendship. And I believe that that’s a message we all often forget and need to hear.
Overall, I loved every second of this book. There were moments of tears and shock, and happiness and joy; it truly made me feel every emotion possible. This book is very unique, completely unlike anything I’ve ever read before – but Hamer has proved to me here that different is good! Immediately after reading, the novel became the newest addition to the “favourites” shelf in my bookcase. I 100% recommend that all of you check out ‘The Girl In The Red Coat’ – it’s suitable for all ages and genders, and I’m sure absolutely everybody would love it! I’d love for there to be a sequel, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen. However, her new novel ‘The Doll Funeral’ is due to be released in February 2017, so I’ll definitely have to read that!
Happy reading 🙂