Published March 2015 by Faber and Faber
A stand-out debut, THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT is the page-turning and hugely moving story of an abduction that will appeal to fans of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS, ROOM and THE SNOW CHILD.
Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different – sensitive, distracted, with an heartstopping tendency to go missing. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own.
When she takes Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. But do the real clues to Carmel’s disappearance lie in the otherworldly qualities her mother had only begun to guess at?
This is an interesting debut and one that stands out because of the characterisation and voices of the two leads. Carmel is kidnapped at the age of eight, leaving her mother devastated. In a moment of confusion, Carmel is taken from a busy festival by a stranger. Carmel and the mother, Beth, are the characters we follow throughout the novel. Beth is a slightly neurotic woman, whose worst nightmare comes true. Carmel is an intriguing, intelligent little eight year old girl, with a strong survivor instinct.
This could have been a sad horror story. Yet it is strangely uplifting and incredibly well written. Beth learns to become stronger and less critical of her ex-partner. She seems to be a better person by the end of the book and has matured. We do see the pain she goes through and how she starts to cope. She seems to suffer more than Carmel. Carmel accepts the changes to her life, whereas as an adult, Beth goes through hell. And Carmel is just an incredible little girl, whose view on the world is refreshing and rather sweet.
Kate Hamer has done a great job in creating a believable and intense story and very genuine characters. An author to look out for.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my review copy!