This week’s choice is a haunting story about all-consuming passion and the strong ties that bind the living to the dead…

The Greatcoat by Helen DunmoreThe Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

(£7.99, Random House)

The ghosts of the Second World War are ever-present in this moving novel set in 1950s Yorkshire. Newly married Isabel Carey struggles to adapt to her new life in a cramped flat with husband Philip working long hours. One cold, fateful night, Isabel searches for an extra cover for the bed and finds an old RAF greatcoat in the wardrobe. And when a man in RAF uniform knocks at the window, a love affair begins between Isabel and the stranger…

RICHARD SAYS: ‘I really enjoyed the authentic wartime detail in this book. The airfield where the RAF stranger, Alec, and his comrades lived and from which they flew on their missions is evocatively described. Semi-derelict when Isabel stumbles upon it, Dunmore vividly evokes the spirit of the doomed Bomber Command pilots who faced annihilation in the most dangerous theatre of the entire war. Plagued by fear, survivors somehow managed to struggle on to the next mission. The ghost of Alec is irresistible to Isabel, because she is lonely. In this strange, cold county, where her GP husband is always at work, the young wife and ghostly pilot find solace in each other.’

JUDY SAYS: ‘I love ghost stories, and this one is hugely atmospheric. But what defines this story is when it takes place – in 1952. The war is over, but for most of the UK, life is still extremely hard. Isabel and Philip rent a two-room flat in an old house where the only other resident is the hostile landlady, Mrs Atkinson. The cold, dark gloom of the house and surrounding town is oppressive, and while Isabel tries to get to grips with being a housewife, she feels like an inexperienced outsider.’

OUR READER SAYS: ‘This is a beautifully written, gripping book that I found hard to classify. It’s both romantic and deeply chilling – an unusual combination. Isabel’s whimsical, dreamy nature and good education mean she faces an internal conflict between her love for Philip and her need for a purpose in life. All in all, this was a captivating book, beautifully written. My only complaint would be I thought the ending was a bit of an anticlimax.’

Melanie Daniels, 35, Doncaster

HAVE YOUR SAY! Read this book? Join in with the Richard and Judy Book Club online or if you’ve read the book, why not post your review below? Happy reading!


If you like this, try these…

The Woman in Black by Susan HillThe Woman in Black by Susan Hill (£7.99, Random)

A truly terrifying ghost story with a spine-chilling twist, famously adapted for stage and screen.




The Little Stranger by Sarah WatersThe Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (£8.99, Little Brown)

A lonely county house in post WW2 Britain is the setting for this psychological ghost story.




Dark Matter by Michelle PaverDark Matter by Michelle Paver (£7.99, Orion)

A wonderfully atmospheric ghost story set in the loneliness of the arctic winter – where something sinister lurks in the darkness.