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The girl in the red coat / Kate Hamer.

By: Hamer, Kate [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London Faber and Faber, 2015Copyright date: ©2015Description: 378 pages ; 23 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780571316441 (paperback).Subject(s): Missing children -- Fiction | Single mothers -- Fiction | Psychics -- Fiction | Identity (Psychology) -- FictionGenre/Form: Detective and mystery fiction.DDC classification: 823.92 Summary: Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different - sensitive, distracted, with an heartstopping tendency to go missing. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own.

When she takes Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. But do the real clues to Carmel's disappearance lie in the otherworldly qualities her mother had only begun to guess at?

Eight-year-old Carmel has always been different. Her mother Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes Carmel for an outing to a local festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears into the crowd. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

I DREAM ABOUT CARMEL OFTEN. In my dreams she's always walking backwards.   The day she was born there was snow on the ground. A silvery light arced through the window as I held her in my arms.   As she grew up I nicknamed her 'my little hedge child.' I couldn't imagine her living anywhere but the countryside. Her thick curly hair stood out like a spray of breaking glass, or a dandelion head.   'You look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards,' I'd say to her.   And she would smile. Her eyes would close and flutter. The pale purple-veined lids like butterflies sealing each eye.   'I can imagine that,' she'd say finally, licking her lips.   I'm looking out of the window and I can almost see her - in those tights that made cherry licorice of her legs - walking up the lane to school. The missing her feels like my throat has been removed.   Tonight I'll dream of her again, I can feel it. I can feel her in the twilight, sitting up on the skeined branches of the beech tree and calling out. But at night in my sleep she'll be walking backwards toward the house - or is it away? - so she never gets closer.   Her clothes were often an untidy riot. The crotch of her winter tights bowed down between her knees so she'd walk like a penguin. Her school collar would stick up on one side and be buried in her jumper on the other. But her mind was a different matter - she knew what people were feeling. When Sally's husband left her, Sally sat in my kitchen drinking tequila as I tried to console her. Salt and lime and liquor for a husband. Carmel came past and made her fingers into little sticks that she stuck into Sally's thick brown hair and massaged her scalp. Sally moaned and dropped her head backwards.   'Oh my God, Carmel, where did you learn to do that?'   'Hush, nowhere,' she whispered, kneading away.   That was just before she disappeared into the fog.   Christmas 1999. The children's cheeks blotched pink with cold and excitement as they hurried through the school gates. To me, they all looked like little trolls compared to Carmel. I wondered then if every parent had such thoughts. We had to walk home through the country lanes and already it was nearly dark.   It was cold as we started off and snow edged the road. It glowed in the twilight and marked our way. I realised I was balling my hands in tight fists inside my pockets with worries about Christmas and no money. As I drew my hands out into the cold air and uncurled them Carmel fell back and I could hear her grumbling behind me.   'Do hurry up,' I said, anxious to get home out of the freezing night.   'You realise. Mum, that I won't always be with you,' she said, her voice small and breathy in the fading light.   Maybe my heart should have frozen then. Maybe I should have turned and gathered her up and taken her home. Kept her shut away in a fortress or a tower. Locked with a golden key that I would swallow, so my stomach would have to be cut open before she could be found. But of course I thought it meant nothing, nothing at all.   'Well, you're with me for now.'   I turned. She seemed far behind me. The shape of her head was the same as the tussocky tops of the hedges that closed in on either side. 'Carmel?'   A long plume of delicate ice breath brushed past my coat sleeve.   'I'm here.'   Sometimes I wonder if when I'm dead I'm destined to be looking still. Turned into an owl and flying over the fields at night, swooping over crouching hedges and dark lanes. The smoke from chimneys billowing and swaying from the movement of my wings as I pass through. Or will I sit with her, high up in the beech tree, playing games? Spying on the people who live in our house and watching their comings and goings. Maybe we'll call out to them and make them jump.   We were single mothers, almost to a man - as one of the group once joked. We clustered together in solidarity of our status. I think now maybe it was not good for Carmel, this band of women with bitter fire glinting from their eyes and rings. Many evenings we'd be around the kitchen table and it would be then he, then he, then he . We were all hurt in some way, bruised inside. Except for Alice who had red bruises. After Carmel had gone - oh, a few months or so - Alice came to the house.   'I had to speak to you,' she said. 'I need to tell you something.' Still I imagined anything could be a clue to the puzzle.   'What is it? What is it?' I asked, frantically clutching at the neck of my dressing gown. What she told me disappointed me so much I turned my face away and looked at the empty shell of the egg I'd eaten yesterday on the kitchen drainer. But when she started to tell me my daughter had a channel to God and could be now at His right hand - how I hated her then. Her false clues and her finding of Jesus, those wrists in identical braided bracelets turning as she spoke. I could stay silent no longer.   'Stop it!' I yelled. 'Get out of here. I thought you had something real to tell me. Get out of this house and leave me alone, you stupid cow. You crazy stupid cow. Take your God with you and don't ever come back.'   Sometimes, just before I fall asleep, I imagine crawling inside the shell of Carmel's skull and finding her memories there. Peering through her eye sockets and watching the film of her life unfold through her eyes. Look, look: there's me and her father, when we were together. Carmel's still small so to her we seem like giants, growing up into the sky. I lean down to pick her up and empty nursery rhymes into her ear.   And there's that day out to the circus. We have a picnic by the big top before we go in. I spread out the blanket on the grass, so I don't notice Carmel turn her head and see the clown peering from between the tent flaps. His face has thick white make-up with a big red mouth shape drawn on. She puzzles why his head is so high up because his stilts are hidden by the striped tent flap. He looks briefly up at the sky to check the weather, then his red-and-white face disappears back inside.   What else? Starting school, me breaking up with Paul and throwing his clothes out of the bedroom window. She must have seen them from where she was in the kitchen - his shirts and trousers sailing down. Other things, how many memories even in a short life: seeing the sea, a day paddling in the river, Christmas, a full moon, snow.   Always I stop at her eighth birthday and can go no farther. Her eighth birthday, when we went to the maze. Excerpted from The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Abducted from a festival near her home in Norfolk, England, eight-year-old Carmel Wakeford is forced to embark on a journey that will take her to the United States and an unimaginable new life. The story unfolds in chapters that alternate between Carmel and her divorced young mother, Beth, with whom readers instantly sympathize. Clad in a red coat, Carmel has disappeared in a fog. Yet Beth never doubts that Carmel is alive, remaining hopeful even as she undergoes big changes in her own life while learning to cope with her tragic situation. VERDICT Reading this novel is a test of how fast you can turn pages. Hamer, a Rhys Davies Short Story Prize winner, is a natural storyteller who writes with such a sense of drama, compulsion, and sympathy that most readers will devour this work in one or two sittings. A finalist for both the Dagger Award and the Costa Book Award for First Novel, this debut is ideal for book clubs and has best seller potential. [LibraryReads February Pick.]-Lisa Rohrbaugh, Leetonia Community P.L., OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

British single mother Beth knows her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, has a tendency to wander-at a local corn maze, on school trips-but one foggy day, the girl vanishes at a local festival and cannot be found. A man who claims to be Carmel's grandfather convinces her that Beth has been in a terrible accident, so Carmel leaves the fairgrounds with him and winds up at a secluded home with the man and his female companion, Dorothy. As Beth frantically searches and slowly isolates herself from the outside world, Carmel is told after careful manipulation that her mother has died, and soon finds herself in America with her new "grandparents," who work as spiritualist healers. Carmel fights to remember her past, but as time passes and she crisscrosses the country, her old life begins to fade. It takes everything in her to remember her name, her address, and her parents. Hamer's spectacular debut skillfully chronicles the nightmare of child abduction. Telling the story in two remarkable voices, with Beth's chapters unfurling in past tense and Carmel's in present tense, the author weaves a page-turning narrative. The trajectories of the novel's two leads-through despair, hope, and redemption-are believable and nuanced, resulting in a morally complex, haunting read. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Hamer's elegantly written first novel begins on a fog-shrouded day in the English countryside as Beth and her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, attend a festival. In the midst of the crowd, they are separated, and Carmel indulges in a private child's game of hiding before realizing she is hopelessly lost. When a man tells her that he is her estranged grandfather, she takes his hand in relief and disappears. Her parents and the police follow every lead for years, while Carmel finds herself held captive by a ragtag bunch of self-described miracle workers directed by her grandfather, who is convinced that she possesses a power that will bring him wealth and salvation. With chapters split between mother and daughter, readers are drawn into both their worlds as Beth struggles to hold on to hope and Carmel fights to remember her true identity. Hamer's lush use of language easily conjures fairy-tale imagery, especially of dark forests and Little Red Riding Hood. Although a kidnapped child is the central plot point, this is not a mystery but a novel of deep inquiry and intense emotions. Hamer's dark tale of the lost and found is nearly impossible to put down and will spark much discussion.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2015 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Hamer's debut novel poignantly details the loss and loneliness of a mother and daughter separated. Beth is recently divorced and raising her daughter, Carmel, on her own in a small town in Norfolk, England. Struggling with the pain of her husband's leaving her for another woman, Beth is determined to "fill the gap he'd left" for Carmelunaware that her daughter too would become a void. On Carmel's eighth birthday, the mother-daughter duo heads out to a storytelling festival together but leaves forever changed. The novel, fast-paced and with a mosaic quality to the scenes, diverges both in form and narrative. Beth and Carmel are each narrators, detailing their points of view of the events leading up to Carmel's abduction from the festival and their journeys thereafter. Hamer deftly develops child and woman. The two are woven together subtly: they both describe their loneliness as affecting their throats. They each call out to the other through the distance. Beth meticulously counts the days that Carmel's been missing while Carmel is lost to time altogether. However, the other characters feel more like haphazard plot constructions. For instance, one man goes from being like "a scorpion that might sting you if you get too close" to someone almost entirely feeble and deflated without a clear trajectory from one state to the other. A few characters are mentioned only to give vague hints to a unifying theme that remains underdeveloped even in the end, one girl named "Mercy" remains a mystery throughout, and three characters disappear almost entirely. When Beth throws a woman out of her home, shouting, "Get out of here.Take your God with you and don't ever come back," Hamer beautifully renders pain, exactly capturing the evisceration of loss, but she just falls short with the overall cohesion of the story. Exquisite prose surrounding a mother and daughter torn apart, but the book could have used more attention to less detail. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.