The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore

1952, and a young doctor and his new wife arrive in a small town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, renting a basic flat with the landlady upstairs to save money to buy a place of their own.

One cold winters night, Isabel finds an old World War II greatcoat in a cupboard, and is soon deep into an affair with its airman owner – turning a blind eye to the fact that his airbase is now a dilapidated collection of abandoned buildings and reclaimed farmland on the outskirts of town.

Author’s page: The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore

House of Orphans – Helen Dunmore

Excellent novel, set in Finland in the early years of the 20th century at a time when it was the Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire and with a long established Swedish ruling class. House of Orphans focuses on individuals – a country doctor, the daughter of a Helsinki activist, a Russian anarchist, a comfortable country matron in a loveless marriage, a disaffected, semi estranged daughter.

Amazon.co.uk link: House of Orphans – Helen Dunmore

Burning Bright – Helen Dunmore

A relatively old novel by Helen Dunmore, telling the twin tales of independent women two generations apart.

Teenage Nadine is lured away from home by her exotic experienced older man, Kai, whose plans for her involve satisfying a British politician’s secret sexual preferences. With parents focused on her disabled younger sister, it isn’t long before Nadine falls out of the “system” and is persuaded to move in with Kai, into a Georgian terraced house (“ripe for renovation”), and sitting tenant Enid firmly ensconced in the attic.

As the two women become friends, we learn more about Enid’s life and loves, and Nadine’s self sufficiency.

Amazon.co.uk link: Burning Bright – Helen Dunmore