I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Girl in the Red Coat Published by Melville House on February 16, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Suspense
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing.
And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.
Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good.
Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …
Alternating between Beth’s story and Carmel’s, and written in gripping prose that won’t let go, The Girl in the Red Coat—like Emma Donoghue’s Room and M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans—is an utterly immersive story that’s impossible to put down . . . and impossible to forget.
The Girl in the Red Coat was a book that had me utterly engrossed within a few pages, with the recently single mother Beth struggling to raise eight-year-old Carmel on her own after her husband has left her for another woman. While Beth seems to be holding onto her daughter too tightly, she still manages to lose sight of her at a festival and Carmel disappears. And this embarks a years long struggle where Beth doesn’t have her daughter anymore–and Carmel doesn’t know that she’s actually missing.
Told in the alternating points of view during the same time frame of mother and daughter, this emotional and realistic book is vivid and well written, hitting all of the somber notes along the way. Carmel leaves the festival with an older man who tells her that he’s her estranged-maternal grandfather–and in her naivety, she believes him and goes with him, believing all of his lies. The man is a master manipulator. This kicks off several years of mental abuse by the American preacher who thinks Carmel is a healer, as he pulls her into his family and moves her from England to the United States. Carmel is a strong girl and refuses to forget who she is, often writing her name on stones and in the dirt to remind herself over time.
Meanwhile, her mother blames herself for Carmel’s disappearance, harboring guilt that ebbs and flows over the days that turn into months. She never gives up hope that her daughter is alive or stops looking for her. As she flounders and slowly learns to live again despite the loss of her only child, Beth’s resiliency shines through and she even builds a relationship with her parents again. The father/ex-husband, Paul, stays away at first and blames Beth, but he actually grows quite a bit during the course of the book.
I give The Girl in the Red Coat a 4.5 out of 5. With vivid writing and strong emotional punches throughout, I really enjoyed this book. Kate Hamer does a wonderful job of keeping this book upbeat at times, especially in Carmel’s point of view. The manipulations and lies that the preacher and his wife use to keep Carmel unaware are very realistic. The unease I felt during the book with Beth’s helplessness at times to find her daughter really punched me in the gut, knowing that I would feel the same way if my child were missing. The characters were sympathetic and relatable–even if they did despicable things. All in all, this is a touching and heartbreaking book where the strength of self pulls through in the end.
About Kate Hamer
KATE HAMER is a winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize. Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel. It is shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for First Novel and a finalist for The Dagger Award. She lives in Cardiff, Wales with her husband and two children.
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Kate Hamer’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, February 15th: Fictionophile
Tuesday, February 16th: Dreams, Etc.
Wednesday, February 17th: Life is Story
Thursday, February 18th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Monday, February 22nd: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, February 23rd: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, February 24th: Laura’s Reviews
Monday, February 29th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, March 1st: A Book A Week
Wednesday, March 2nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, March 3rd: Luxury Reading
Friday, March 4th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, March 7th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, March 8th: Books That Hook
Wednesday, March 9th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, March 10th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, March 14th: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, March 15th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, March 16th: The Well Read Redhead
Friday, March 18th: From the TBR Pile