Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron


Coral Glynn
by Peter Cameron
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
210 pages
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.


Brief thoughts:

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.

My rating:

14 comments:

  1. It sounds like it made you think, even if you didn't love it.

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    1. Kathy - It's been a long time since I've been that perplexed by a character!

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  2. This just came home from the library. A good book to read on Halloween I think.

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    1. Mary - Oh, yes... a very good Halloween read! I'll be curious to see what you make of Coral.

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  3. I never would have thought this was a RIP VIII book - You've made me curious.

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    1. Diane - I never expected it, either... but I think it qualifies.

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  4. Coral has stuck with me all these weeks since I finished the book. I completely agree with you...I had no idea what she would do next! The author did an excellent job of being succinct...there was so much to glean from such a short work of fiction. It's a book I will definitely be reading again and thanks so much for giving it a go, JoAnn!

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    1. Cosy Books - It's been over a week since finished and I'm still thinking about Coral... but have no better understanding of her character. I'm impressed that Cameron was able to pack so much into such a slim volume, and have it work so well. Thanks for introducing me to this book!

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  5. I saw another review recently for this book and pinned it on my want to read board. You have cemented that and I can't wait to find the book. Coral intrigues me.

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    1. Peggy - Coral certainly is an intriguing character. Will be curious to see what you make of her!

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  6. I recently saw something else about this book and can't wait to investigate it myself. Great review!

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    1. Deb - In many ways this seemed like the type of novel Persephone or Virago would publish. I'd never heard of this author before, but now I plan to investigate some of his other titles.

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  7. Love your header photo! We're snowed in today, and will be for the whole weekend. Good to stay in and read. Thanks for this review! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Arti. Yesterday on my walk, it struck me that all the leaves were gone and fall is officially over :(

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