Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron

Someday this Pain Will Be Useful to You is one of my all-time favourite books, so I was excited to read Peter Cameron's new novel, Coral Glynn. I wasn't disappointed, even though about the only things the two books have in common is that they feature gay themes and society's misfits. They are also both short -- under 250 pages.

Coral Glynn is employed to nurse Mrs. Hart, an elderly woman dying of cancer, in a remote house in England, a few years after WWII. The woman's son, Clement, decides Coral would make a suitable wife for himself, even though he has only just met her. Clement has had a longtime relationship with another man, who is married and lives nearby.

Coral is likable, yet flawed, and I found sympathy for Clement, too. The claustrophobic domestic setting and societal constraints of the time add to the sensation of feeling trapped with few choices. Tragic stuff happens, there are lies and misunderstandings, and things work out differently than you might expect.

Readalikes: The Outcast (Sadie Jones) for a similar time and place with an element of dark suspense; Rough Music (Patrick Gale) for the tragedy of living closeted lives; and maybe Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) because the evil housekeeper in Coral Glynn is a match for Mrs. Danvers.

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