by Peter Cameron
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
source: borrowed from the library
Motivation: Cosy Book's review
Summary (from amazon):
In the spring of 1950, Coral Glynn arrives at an isolated mansion in the English countryside to nurse the elderly Edith Hart. There, Coral meets Hart House’s odd inhabitants: Mrs. Prence, the perpetually disgruntled housekeeper, and Major Clement Hart, her charge’s war-ravaged son. When a child’s game goes violently awry in the nearby woods, a great shadow—love, perhaps—descends upon its residents. Other seemingly random events—a torn dress, a missing ring, a lost letter—propel Coral and Clement precipitously into the mysterious thicket of marriage.
Written with his unique sense of wit and empathy, Peter Cameron’s brilliant novel is a stunning exploration of how need and desire can blossom into love—and just as quickly transform into something less categorical.
This contemporary novel has a distinctly vintage feel that seemed (to me) vaguely reminiscent of Rebecca. It's an odd, atmospheric little book set mainly in an English country house. In fact, the word "odd" appears with alarming frequency. I didn't count myself, but another reader reported over 50 instances in the 210 pages.
The story takes several unexpected turns, becoming slightly dark and sinister at times, yet Coral, a visiting nurse, remains an enigma throughout. She makes the strangest statements and choices, and I never could figure out what made her tick. As a result, I felt slightly off-balance the entire time.
I'm not sure if I truly liked Coral Glynn, but it was perfect R.I.P. reading.
A few quotes:
"For a moment she thought perhaps it was enough to have come this far, to have merely seen him. Because she did not know exactly why she had come, or what she exactly wanted, it was difficult to know what to do or when to leave."
"What a hard, unsatisfying word: "friendship." It was worth very little, friendship. It did not keep you warm at night. You could not even touch it. Friendship gave you a little bit of something you needed a lot of, slowly starving you, weakening you, breaking you down."
"But you see, as I have never completely had him, I have always missed him. Parts of him. Perhaps it is better to lose something entirely than to clutch at pieces of it."Bottom line:
An unusual R.I.P. read, vaguely reminiscent of Rebecca.