Van has finished reading…The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

4 Sep

It’s thanks to the Curtis Brown Book Group, who sent me this as part of my welcome bundle, that I’ve finally read this; I’ve been aware of it and meaning to pick it up for a while. I’ve often seen reviews of books, or comments about books where people say, ‘I couldn’t put it down.’ I’m not necessarily that kind of reader. I love getting lost in a story, getting wrapped up in the lives on the page, all that, but I’m sometimes more inclined to slow down so it doesn’t end too quickly. I think this is the first time I can confidently say I simply had to finish the book as soon as I could; I just HAD to know!

There’s something of a fairy tale feeling that weaves through this book, all the way from the Red Riding Hood visuals and the early frenzied search in the maze, through Beth’s superstitious hopefulness and her later reasoning around universal balance, to Gramps and his whole way of life. What’s powerful about it is how reasonable and grounded all these reactions appear. They’re wholly relevant to each of the characters at each stage of the story, leaving a breadcrumb trajectory for each character arc. There’s also a really nice, subtle shift in the pattern of Carmel’s speech about halfway through that neatly underlines the passage of time.

It’s a really nicely-written book, often feeling very dreamy and loose, belying Kate Hamer’s tight control of events and what we know when. The various voices are distinct but contained and the emotional exploration unflinching. Things that seem incidental at the time re-emerge with renewed significance later and the massing of tension toward the conclusion is palpable (I think Mrs Van caught me chewing a finger – I am not a chewer!). There’s no denying that it’s an emotive story – just the ‘what if’ of this scenario is enough to stop you in your tracks and get you thinking, but what Kate Hamer has done with it is really quite special.

The Girl In The Red Coat was published on 26th February 2015 by Faber & Faber ISBN No: 9780571313242

You can find Kate Hamer on Twitter @kate_hamer


3 Responses to “Van has finished reading…The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer”


  1. Van’s top five reads in 2015 | vanisreading - 07/01/2016

    […] but life is too short to try and get down to a top 3. When I’m ruling out Life After Life, The Girl In The Red Coat, Galina Petrovna, The Good Son and Where’d You Go, Bernadette you’ll know how hard it was to […]

  2. The #CBBookGroupie playlist | vanisreading - 09/02/2016

    […] Theme, the Girl in the Red Coat by Kate […]

  3. Van has finished reading… The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer | vanisreading - 17/10/2016

    […] & FaberKate Hamer’s debut, The Girl In The Red Coat, is one of the few books I’ve read that impelled me to keep on reading. The very urgency of the […]

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