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I am very fond of gothic elements in my novels and also enjoy books about manners. Coral Glynn: A Novel by Peter Cameron is rife with both. It is dark, brooding and has an eerie sensibility.
The novel begins in 1952 with Coral Glynn, a visiting nurse, arriving at Hart House to care for the aging and dying Mrs. Hart. She has terminal cancer and is not expected to live very long. The house is also inhabited by her son, Major Clement Hart, who was seriously burned and had his legs injured in World War II. Also residing there is a sour-mannered housekeeper and cook named Mrs. Prence. Shortly after Mrs. Hart dies, Clement begins a relationship with Coral and they decide to marry quickly.
On a walk in the woods near Hart House, Coral runs into two children playing a 'game' that is very sadistic. A girl is tied up to a tree with her hands and legs bound. A 10 year-old boy is throwing acorns and pine cones at her. She has abrasions on her face and body. Coral is drawn to the scene by the animalistic cries of the girl. When Coral arrives there, the children state that they are just playing and that she has nothing to be concerned about. Unfortunately, Coral does not report this to the police and this has dire consequences for her.
Clement has a close friend, Robin, a man he has known since childhood, who is in love with him. It is alluded that the two of them had a homosexual affair when they were younger. However, Robin is married to an exuberant woman named Dolly who tries to take Coral under her wing. Coral confides in her and the advice she gets is not helpful to her well-being. There is the air of repressed sexuality between Robin and Clement throughout the book though Clement refuses to discuss the past and Robin wants to bring it up.
The marriage goes as planned but shortly afterwards everything goes awry and, because of the incident in the woods and a past incident in Coral's life, she gets in trouble with the police. Clement and she agree that it is best for her to go to London immediately and correspond with him through Dolly and Robin.
Coral is not a vivacious woman nor does she have the qualities that draw people to her emotionally. She is lonely, frightened and all alone in the world. She is an orphan and her brother was killed in World War II. She is, however, attractive. Basically, she is a lost soul. "Who knew what one wanted and what one didn't want?" Coral devotes most of her life to nursing and appears to have no other interests. Her relationship with Clement is dry and malnourished. There is no passion nor is there any drive.
The book has a very unexpected ending which I loved. It put things more into perspective regarding Coral and showed a part of her personality that was not in evidence during the rest of the book.
I enjoyed the book quite a bit but I had to ask myself at the end, what does this all mean? What is the lesson I am learning and what is the intent of the author? Perhaps the intent of Mr. Cameron is to tell his story and no more. The story speaks for itself and leaves the reader scratching his head but smiling at the same time because of the enjoyment gleaned from the telling.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Weak, hesitant, unconfident, timid, unassertive, boring, frustrating are words I would use to describe nearly every character in this book.
Maybe because of this I missed the point of the story but really couldn't find one. Thankfully it was only 6 hours long or I would have given up on it. I just wanted to give everyone some Zoloft and see if they could be even a tiny bit happier with life.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful