Coral Glynn

( 19 )

Overview

Coral Glynn arrives at Hart House, an isolated manse in the English countryside, early in the very wet spring of 1950, to nurse the elderly Mrs. Hart, who is dying of cancer. Hart House is also inhabited by Mrs. Prence, the perpetually disgruntled housekeeper, and Major Clement Hart, Mrs. Hart’s war-ravaged son, who is struggling to come to terms with his latent homosexuality. When a child’s game goes violently awry in the woods surrounding Hart House, a great shadow—love, perhaps—descends upon its ...

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Coral Glynn: A Novel

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Overview

Coral Glynn arrives at Hart House, an isolated manse in the English countryside, early in the very wet spring of 1950, to nurse the elderly Mrs. Hart, who is dying of cancer. Hart House is also inhabited by Mrs. Prence, the perpetually disgruntled housekeeper, and Major Clement Hart, Mrs. Hart’s war-ravaged son, who is struggling to come to terms with his latent homosexuality. When a child’s game goes violently awry in the woods surrounding Hart House, a great shadow—love, perhaps—descends upon its inhabitants. Like the misguided child’s play, other seemingly random events—a torn dress, a missing ring, a lost letter—propel Coral and Clement into the dark thicket of marriage. 

A period novel observed through a refreshingly gimlet eye, Coral Glynn explores how quickly need and desire can blossom into love, and just as quickly transform into something less categorical.  Borrowing from themes and characters prevalent in the work of mid-twentieth-century British women writers, Peter Cameron examines how we live and how we love—with his customary empathy and wit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the English countryside in the aftermath of WWII, this quietly compelling sixth novel from Cameron (The Weekend) focuses on the story of the eponymous heroine, Coral, a nurse, sent to Hart House in 1950 to tend the dying Mrs. Hart. With great efficiency, Cameron introduces the other players: Mrs. Hart’s son, Maj. Clement Hart, an embittered veteran wounded in the war; his friend Robin Lofting; the brittle, disapproving housekeeper, Mrs. Prense. But after Mrs. Hart dies, and Major Hart proposes to Coral, this seemingly well-realized homage to the postwar British novel quickly turns almost gothic. Walking in a forest near Hart House, Coral comes across a young girl tied to a tree. She’s being pelted with pinecones by a young boy in a game they call Prisoner. Though she insists they stop, Coral takes no other action; the young girl is later murdered in the same forest; and suspicion—bizarrely—falls upon Coral. The book is suffused with a lonely sadness and an aura of the surreal, and the many dramatic events in Coral’s life are entirely plausible thanks to Cameron’s skill as a storyteller. Agent: Irene Skolnick, the Irene Skolnick Literary Agency. (Mar. 6)
Library Journal
It is very rainy in spring 1950, when, having left her previous employment under questionable circumstances, Coral Glynn arrives at Hart House to nurse its ailing matriarch. Her only escape from the oppressive household and its difficult inhabitants—a demanding patient, her war-damaged son, and a malicious housekeeper—is to venture into the wet woods beyond the estate, where she discovers a boy and girl engaged in a dangerous game of capture. Shortly afterward, Mrs. Hart dies, and Major Hart, longing to escape his isolation and unhappiness, proposes marriage. But when the young girl from the woods is found hanging, suspicion immediately falls on Coral because of the hasty marriage, her own sketchy past, and her having told no one about the chance encounter with the girl. VERDICT Despite its Rebecca-like beginning—a Mrs. Danvers stand-in, a murder mystery, and a withholding husband—the first love in this story is not the major's first wife. As the reasons for his repressed emotions unfold, we see how they have led to many of the misunderstandings and plot twists that follow. With its atmospheric Fifties setting and stylish writing, this is one of Cameron's (The City of Your Final Destination) finest novels. [See Prepub Alert, 9/23/11.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Kirkus Reviews
Shortly after World War II, Coral Glynn, a nurse, shows up at Hart House to take care of an elderly woman dying of cancer, and thus begins a series of unfortunate events. Although Coral is taciturn and hard to read, these qualities don't stop Major Hart, son of the dying woman, from being intrigued by her—though perhaps "intrigued" is too strong a word. When the inevitable happens and his mother dies, Major Hart has an aversion to spending the rest of his life alone. He had been badly wounded in the war and has few social contacts beyond his childhood friend Robin, who's in love with the major, and Robin's wife, Dolly, who obviously have a marriage of convenience. Hart somewhat ambivalently returns some of Robin's affection, but he yearns for more and feels that Coral can fill the void in his life, so he and Coral get engaged while Mrs. Hart's body is still warm, and they marry about two weeks later. On their wedding night their marriage is immediately thwarted by Inspector Hoke, who's investigating a mysterious murder that occurred in the woods near Hart House, a venue Coral was known to have visited in her spring walks. Uncertain whether Coral has any culpability in the crime, Hart urges her to disappear to London, where she lives for two years. While there she yields to the amorous blandishments of her landlady's son but is eventually found out by Hart. Their on-again/off-again relationship teeters on the brink until Coral finally makes up her mind. A slowly unfolding novel that paradoxically contains both engaging characters and wooden dialogue.
Dominique Browning
There is an ancient class of vessels, found in Roman tombs, called lachrymatories: tiny glass flasks, often shaped like tears, into which mourners are said to have collected the spill of their weeping eyes. This entrancing image flitted through my mind as I read Peter Cameron's new novel, Coral Glynn. By the end of this sad, beautiful, absorbing story of love missed, love lost, love found, I was thinking that this must be what it's like to slip into a bath of hot tears.
—The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
Starred Review. "...quietly compelling...The book is suffused with a lonely sadness and an aura of the surreal, and the many dramatic events in Coral's life are entirely plausible thanks to Cameron's skill as a storyteller." - Publishers Weekly (book review)
"Simon Prebble provides charming, unassuming narration in this captivating audio edition. He also lends the characters a variety of spot-on voices and accents." - Publishers Weekly (audio review)
"Cameron's shimmering and expectant prose infuses this deceptively simple novel with an incandescent depth." - Booklist
"...one of Cameron's (The City of Your Final Destination) finest novels." - Library Journal
"...sad, beautiful, absorbing story of love missed, love lost, love found...This gracious novel tells of one soul's wanderings." - New York Times
"Beauty and loss suffuse Peter Cameron's atmospheric period novel...Cameron's skillfully wrought tale lures readers into a somber, dreamlike world." - Barnes & Noble, "Best of the Month...for Adults"
"...wonderfully weird...quite original and rich with interesting, unexpected plot twists...utterly compelling, interesting, and terrifically well written." - New York Journal of Books
"...a riveting tale with an often heartbreakingly pure prose style." - The Wall Street Journal
"As always, Cameron's prose is something to savor." - The Seattle Times
"...unfolds in entirely unexpected ways... it will stay with you long after Coral and Clement have gone on their way." - MacLeans
"[Cameron's] descriptive powers are extensive when it comes to background..." - The Washington Independent Review of Books
"...lovely, enigmatic...Cameron's novels...have won a following...[that] keeps on growing, one devoted reader at a time." - Salon
"There is a dark delicacy to this semi-gothic sixth novel by Cameron, a pitch-perfect period piece...delicate. And sublimely delicious." - GO Magazine
"...a beautifully controlled, suspenseful novel that smartly renders melodramatic events into credible, even empathetic moments." - The Daily Beast
The Barnes & Noble Review

Short and spare, Peter Cameron's Coral Glynn is made up of four separate, tightly sprung parts, through which run disparate strains of literary manners and mood. The author has said that he has been influenced by such mid-twentieth-century writers as Rose Macaulay, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Taylor, and William Maxwell. One can see this in his characters' quiet, intense interiors and Cameron's own thrusts of tart humor. But in this novel, the dealers in English gothic — the Brontë sisters, Wilkie Collins, and Ruth Rendell — are also close at hand, as is the spirit of mischief, steering the plot through sharp turns and startling revelations. The result is a fanciful, unpredictable curiosity of a novel, one that, I am happy to report, is immensely entertaining.

It is a wet spring in the English Midlands of 1950 and Coral Glynn, a young hired nurse, has come to Hart House to take care of a dying old woman who lives with her son, Major Clement Hart. Isolated and decaying, the place is looked after by Mrs Prence, an elderly housekeeper of precisely the sort you might expect in this setting: suspicious, unforthcoming, and spiteful. The failing Mrs Hart is a cantankerous, exacting patient whose many demands include an onerous insistence on sleeping in her high four-poster bed, even though she has to be laboriously hoisted into it: "She had been born in this bed, she claimed (although in fact she had not), and would die in it, too. Or die getting into it, more likely, Coral thought."

Clement, whose sister Charlotte killed herself years ago, is alienated from his frankly horrible mother. Badly wounded during the war, he walks with difficulty and loathes his own scarred and seared flesh. He is lonely, his only friend being another man, a lover of his youth whom he meets for a weekly drink, but whose physical attentions he now rebuffs. Clement is, in sum, a consummate master of gloom and sees only the life of a recluse before him — unless, it strikes him shortly after Coral arrives, he marries this young woman.

And why not? Yes, she is considerably younger than he is, but she too is lonely, prey to the lonesomeness of the bereft and unprotected. Both her parents are dead and so is her brother, killed in the war. Coral has no one and no home, and moves from situation to situation as a live-in nurse, an adjunct to the lives of others. She is just the sort of person that those with a place in the world find handy to supply their own needs, whether honorably as Clement intends, or, as in the past — as we learn in one of the book's abrupt revelations — dishonorably.

The novel is told chiefly from Coral's point of view, a vantage made more acute by her own, often sardonic, reflections on those around her. But it is also a closed-up, protective angle that only occasionally opens to afford glimpses of her past. These I don't wish to reveal as Cameron dishes them up with perfect timing to startling effect. In fact, it is a little difficult to talk about what happens in this novel at all because the unlooked-for disclosure and disquieting event are essential to its mechanism. I will say that an undercurrent of feral aggression is present and unsavory discoveries abound, as when Coral comes upon a boy torturing a little girl deep within a holly-bush copse, an episode with a terrible and momentous outcome.

Almost everything in and around Hart House is emblematic of an underlying unseemliness. Here we find Coral awaiting Clement, whom she has married, on her wedding night, sitting on the now-deceased Mrs Hart's bed (of all beds!) wearing the dead Charlotte's nightgown (of all nightgowns!):

She sat on the bed and waited. She felt her body chill beneath the thin layer of linen, which she realized had been pressed hard and stiff by Mrs Prence: it was not a gift but a punishment. A hair-shirt. After a moment she opened the drawer of the night table beside the bed and looked in at the jumble of crimped tubes and ancient bottles of lotions and unguents. Dirty bits of ribbons, and hankies, and nubs of pencils. A prescription bottle read: Mrs Edith Hart, take 1 tablet every six hours or as needed for pain. A wooden baby Jesus cr?che figurine, missing his left arm, was stuck to an unwrapped piece of toffee. Coral shuddered and closed the drawer.
An untoward development and a couple of bad decisions on Coral's part (of which she is something of an adept) lead to her expulsion from Hart House. But this, in turn, is the route by which she finds her way into a life of her own, unbeholden to others, with a little place to live, and a salary that allows her such acts of independence as eating in a café:
When she was finished with her lunch she stepped into the street. She looked back through the caf? window at her table, which had not yet been cleared, and the remnants of her meal remained there as blatant as evidence: she was a person in the world. She existed, and she was free.
Coral has at least one further trial which I again leave you to discover; but I know I must give more away to encourage you to read this wonderfully engaging, atmospheric, and oddly capricious novel: It serves up a happy ending. This is more or less true for Clement and even, strange to say, for Mrs Prence, but above all for Coral. Upon her is bestowed a fate far more fortunate than anyone might think possible for a young woman whose wedding night saw her sitting on a dead woman's bed in a suicide's nightgown.

Katherine A. Powers reviews books widely and has been a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle.

Reviewer: Katherine A. Powers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374299019
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 803,848
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Cameron

Peter Cameron is the author of Andorra (FSG, 1997), The City of Your Final Destination (FSG, 2002), and Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You (FSG, 2007). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Grand Street, and The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

PART ONE

 

 

That spring—the spring of 1950—had been particularly wet.

An area at the bottom of the garden at Hart House flooded, creating a shallow pool through which the crocuses gamely raised their little flounced heads, like cold shivering children in a swimming class. The blond gravel on the garden paths had turned green, each pebble wrapped in a moist transparent blanket of slime, and one could not sit on either of the two cement benches that flanked the river gate without first unhinging the snails and slugs adhered to them.

The excessive moistness of the garden was of no concern to anyone at Hart House except for the new nurse, who had arrived on Thursday, and had attempted, on the two afternoons that were somewhat mild, to sit outside for a moment, away from the sickness and strain in the house. But she found the garden inhospitable, and so had resolved to stay indoors.

She was the nurse, officially at least, only to the old lady, Mrs Hart, who was dying of cancer. Her son, Major Hart, who had been wounded in the war—he seemed to be missing a leg or at least part of one, and moved his entire body with an odd marionette stiffness—did not, officially at least, require a nurse.

Coral Glynn was the third nurse to arrive in as many months; it was unclear what, exactly, had driven her predecessors away, although there was much conjecture on the subject in the town. First it was supposed that the Major was perhaps a Lothario, and had made disreputable advances, although he had never acted that way before—in fact, he had always seemed to hold himself above romance of any kind. Then, when the second nurse, who had been quite old, fled as fleetly, it had been assumed that Mrs Hart was impossibly difficult, since dying people often are, and Edith Hart, even when in the bloom of health, had tried one’s patience. The new nurse—the third—was young again, and was expected to be seen escaping, either from unwanted seduction or abuse, on any given day.

There was one other person in the house besides Coral and Mrs and Major Hart: an elderly woman named Mrs Prence, who acted as cook and housekeeper. Before the war there had been a real cook and a maid, but now all the burdens of the household fell upon Mrs Prence, who bore them with a grudging dutifulness.

Hart House was several miles outside of Harrington, in Leicestershire. It stood upon a slight rise in the water meadows beside the river Tarle, near the edge of the Sap Green Forest. There were no other houses within sight, for the meadows often flooded, and the air was damp and considered bad.

*   *   *

The night of her first day in the house, Coral came downstairs after putting Mrs Hart to bed to find her son standing in the front hall. The old woman, though very ill, insisted upon continuing the monotonous daily motions of rising and dressing; her bed was made and she was moved to a chaise longue where she napped and fretted, wrapped in a blanket, until she had had her supper, after which she was undressed and washed and put back into bed. This was a complicated endeavour, as it was a high four-poster, onto which she needed to be hoisted, as she could no longer climb the few wooden steps that ordinarily provided access. She refused to sleep in any other bed: she had been born in this bed, she claimed (although in fact she had not), and would die in it, too. Or die getting into it, more likely, Coral thought. So she was unusually exhausted when she descended the stairs—exhausted from the combination of travelling, arriving and settling in, meeting her new patient, hoisting her into the ridiculous bed—and was not happy to see Major Hart waiting at the foot of the stairs, leaning over his cane. She paused at the landing and looked down at him. It appeared as though he was attempting to strike a rakish pose, but the utilitarian purpose of his cane could not be disguised.

“How is Mother?” he asked.

How am I to know? Coral thought. It is too exhausting, what people expect. Of course your mother was not well. I would not be here if she were. And since I have only arrived today there is nothing to which I may compare her health. And why did he say Mother? Why not my mother?

“Your mother is weak,” she said. “And fretful. But stable, I think. I have given her an injection. She should sleep through the night.”

“Is she in great pain?”

“No,” said Coral. “The injection will alleviate any pain.”

“Ah,” he said, as if her answer had been clever. He was looking down at his hands. One clasped the knob of his stick and the other clasped its mate.

A clock chimed somewhere—the house was large and full of chiming or softly bonging clocks—and Coral was suddenly aware of the wind outside, the damp. The house was so far from anything. She shivered.

Major Hart looked up at her as if he had heard her. She stood very still, not wanting to move. She was so tired. She reached out and laid her hand upon the banister. She looked up at the distant coffered ceiling. She thought of how tired she was, and of the little room on the attic floor that had been shown to her, the little room that was now hers, how its narrow bed had not been made, just the bare mattress on the crude iron bedstead, elaborately mapped with ancient stains, the linens stacked at the foot. And why should I expect anything different? she thought. Who in the world should have made the bed? I should be happy the bed is there, the little room there; so many people do not have little rooms, and beds …

“I thought perhaps…” Major Hart began, but faltered.

“Yes?” she said, and she could hear in her voice her exhaustion, her dismissal of him, so she said it again, “Yes?” in a softer way.

“I thought perhaps you might like some brandy—or some tea—before the fire. But perhaps you’re too tired.”

“No,” she said. “Thank you. Some brandy—a little brandy—would be lovely.”

“It’s just that I’m sure it’s been a long day for you,” he said. He took some awkward shuffling steps backwards, opening a space at the bottom of the stairs, and she descended.

“Yes,” she said. She touched her hair and followed him into the dark library, the drapes all drawn, a downcast lamp on the desk and a fire glowing quietly in the grate. He turned his chair around so that it was facing the one that had been drawn up close to the fire, positioned there, she sensed, for herself. He poured some brandy into a glass and held it out to her, and for a moment she didn’t take it, just let it glow there, ambered in the firelight between them. It seemed such a gift.

“Thank you,” she said. “Very kind.”

He said nothing, and she could not make out his expression in the gloom. He had a soft, handsome face and although his hands shook, his face had an utter, almost eerie calm.

“Aren’t you going to have any?” she asked.

He did not answer but poured another glass. He held it towards her, but the fire had shifted, and the liquid remained dark. “Welcome to Hart House,” he said.

Coral touched her little glass neatly to his, and then retracted it, and sipped. It was lovely, burning; it collected her around herself, gave her a centre. She thought that she might weep for a moment—the brandy had that power, too—but she knew enough not to.

They sat in the chairs drawn near to the fire.

“I hope you will be happy here,” he said. “I hope my mother will not be too much of a burden to you.”

“Oh, no,” she said. “She is not a burden at all. No patient is.”

“Yes, I suppose, if you look at it that way,” he said.

She wasn’t sure how to reply, so she said nothing.

“Where do you come from?” he asked.

“Huddlesford,” she said.

“Oh, Huddlesford,” he said.

“The spring is late here,” she said.

“Yes,” he said. “It is always late here.”

“You’re from here?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I grew up in this house.” He looked up at the ceiling and then around the dark room, as if some trace of his long habitation of the house might be apparent. “Do you have family in Huddlesford?”

“No,” she said. “My parents are dead.”

“And there is no one else?”

“I had a brother,” she said. “But he was killed in the war.”

“Where was he?” asked the Major.

“El Alamein,” she said.

“Ah,” he said, “the desert. The first or second battle?”

“The first,” she said. “July sixteenth.”

“I’m sorry you lost him.”

Coral made no reply. The Major looked down into his brandy and sipped it. Then he looked over at Coral.

“Did you nurse in the war?” he asked.

“No,” she said. “I was too young.”

“Of course,” he said. “Of course you were. I’m sorry.”

“I would have liked to,” she said.

“For how long, then, have you been nursing?”

“Two years,” said Coral.

“And you always do this kind?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you always nurse patients in their homes?”

“Yes,” said Coral. “Private nursing. It’s hard to get jobs in hospitals—there are so many nurses from the war.”

“Yes,” he said, “I’d imagine so. Do you like it—private nursing? You are not lonely for home?”

“No,” she said. “This suits me.”

“You go from place to place? Job to job?”

“Yes,” she said.

“And where is home?”

“I have no home,” she said.

“Really? No home at all?”

“No,” she said, and there was something final about this admission, something defeating, as if the lack of a home precluded any further conversation. They attended their brandies. Soon her little glass was empty. She stood. “Thank you for the drink,” she said. “Good night.”

“Good night,” he said.

She put her glass on the mantel and left the room. She climbed the stairs, leaving him below, alone—submerged, it almost seemed—in the dark.

*   *   *

One fairish afternoon when Mrs Hart was sleeping, Coral went down into the kitchen. Mrs Prence was sitting at the table reading a magazine, but she looked up and watched Coral descend the stairs.

“Good afternoon, Mrs Prence,” Coral said.

“Good afternoon,” said Mrs Prence. She returned her attention to the magazine.

“I was thinking to go out for a little walk,” said Coral. “I wondered if you might suggest a place to go.”

“A walk?” asked Mrs Prence, with some suspicion.

“A little walk,” she said. “Not far. Just to get some fresh air.”

Mrs Prence made an odd noise that made clear her opinion of fresh air.

“There is nowhere to walk?” asked Coral.

“There is the whole world for walking,” Mrs Prence declared.

“I thought perhaps there was somewhere scenic to walk.”

Mrs Prence made the noise again.

“Well,” said Coral, “I suppose if I set out, I shall find something.”

“There is a wood across the river,” admitted Mrs Prence.

Coral, whose pride was injured, did not ask for details.

“If you go out the gate at the bottom of the garden and turn right, and walk along the river, you’ll come to a footbridge. Cross it, and you’ll be in the Sap Green Forest. There is a path. People walk there.”

“Thank you,” said Coral.

*   *   *

The sky was low; there was either a heavy mist or a light rain—it was hard to discern. But Coral would not be deterred by something as inconsequential as weather. The little pool in the garden had spread and there was barely room to walk around it. Her shoes squelched in the puddling earth. The gate was swollen shut and had to be forced. She wondered how long it had been since it had been opened. The river ran fast and full and lapped avidly at the sides of the little footbridge, and it was almost dark in the woods, and unnaturally quiet. Or naturally quiet. She passed a large copse of holly trees, larger than any she had seen, their metallic leaves glinting cruelly in the dark forest. For a moment she thought she heard someone crying. She paused and realised it was just the weird sawing of the holly leaves, chafing in the wind.

*   *   *

On the few afternoons when it wasn’t raining and Mrs Hart slept soundly, Coral walked in the Sap Green Forest. She explored the different pathways through the woods, each of which emerged, surprisingly, into a different world: a churchyard, an abandoned aerodrome, the overgrown garden of an old house, the water meadows. The woods were not very large, she realised, but there was nevertheless a feeling of isolation in the centre of them.

One day as she emerged from the woods onto the path that led to Hart House she saw a solitary figure standing on the footbridge. It was a gloomy afternoon, slurring towards darkness, and there was something foreboding about the tall dark figure standing perfectly still on the bridge, like a sentry. Her instinct was to turn around and hasten back into the woods, and wait for the figure to disappear before she returned to the house, but she realised that she had been seen; the figure raised a hand in greeting, and kept his arm raised, as if he were hailing a cab. It was the Major.

Coral looked behind her into the wood, as if there might be a similar figure summoning her from the opposite direction, or as if there might be a figure behind her whom the Major hailed. But there was nothing, no one, just the dark craw of the forest, so she was forced to move forwards and join the Major on the footbridge.

“Hello,” he said as she approached. “Fancy meeting you here.”

“Yes,” she said.

“Been for a walk in the woods?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said again, as if that were the only word she knew.

“It’s a shame about the weather,” he said. “Such a wet spring. Still, it must be nice for you to get out of the house.”

She was about to say yes again but stopped herself.

He looked at her then—they had both been gazing at the still-swollen water rushing beneath them—and though she felt his gaze, she did not return it, but continued to study the water, as if trying to look through it for something lost at the bottom. After a moment he looked away at the woods she had vacated and said, “I used to know the woods very well as a boy. Walk in them, and play in them. They were much larger then, and wilder. Well, not wild, not wild at all, of course, but they seemed wild to me. A child’s perspective.” He paused, as if she might comment on his memory, but she did not, so he continued. “It’s difficult for me now, to walk in the woods, the ground is so uneven. I do all right with my stick as long as it’s flat. Pathetic, really.” He tapped his cane against the railing on the footbridge.

“What happened?” Coral asked. She looked at his cane, but they both knew she was looking at his legs. He wore green tweed pants and brown leather laced boots. The boots were perfectly polished and the leather looked rich and supple; they were a lovely chestnut colour.

“My injury?” he said.

“Yes,” said Coral. “I wondered, but perhaps it is something about which you do not care to speak.”

“I suppose your being a nurse—”

“Yes?” said Coral.

“I suppose, your being a nurse, these things interest you.”

“Well, no,” said Coral. “I only wondered.”

“Most girls. Well, girls are funny about injuries, aren’t they? Damages. But I suppose nurses aren’t.”

“I only wondered,” Coral repeated, once again apparently betraying the dearth of her vocabulary.

“I damaged my right leg and the left was badly burnt. I wear a brace.”

“You seem to do very well with it,” Coral said.

“As I said, I can manage the straight and narrow, which I suppose is all a man like me is entitled to. Yet I miss the woods. I had a fort in the woods, when I was young, where I played at soldiering. I wonder what’s become of it.”

“I could help you perhaps, if you’d like,” said Coral.

“Help me with what?” asked the Major.

“Help you to walk in the woods.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s impossible. I can’t endure being led about like an invalid.”

“Of course,” said Coral. “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, it’s I who am sorry, I assure you.”

Coral said nothing. A cat appeared from beneath the footbridge and sat on the bank, cleaning its paws.

“That’s Pippin,” said the Major. “Mother’s cat. He ran away when she became ill and makes himself scarce. Pippin!” he called, but the cat took no notice. “Animals are odd, aren’t they? They cope so differently from humans.”

“Yes,” said Coral.

“It’s getting dark,” said the Major. “I did not mean to interrupt your walk. You must value your time away from Mother. Like Pippin.”

“Oh, no—” began Coral, but the Major turned and walked back across the bridge, towards the house. Coral waited for him to disappear behind the garden gate before she followed. While she waited, the darkness completed itself.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Peter Cameron

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 2, 2012

    Must Read!!!

    There was a consistent sense of compassion for the main characters throughout. You wanted their lives to end up in a fairy tale but pleased with the unconventional outcome. A lively read for a weekend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    I loved this book! Let me just say "i never saw it coming&

    I loved this book! Let me just say "i never saw it coming", every twist and turn had me saying "no way"
    This book was Great, truly out of the ordinary for sure, totally different type of love story for sure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Not worth the money

    Boring story about miserable characters you care nothing about. At 142 pages, $10.99 is an outrageous cost, and i feel duped. Don't do it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Fast read and disappointing

    Waste of money
    Poorly developed characters







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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Not worth the little time it tskes to read

    Chaacters so psychologically damaged you dont like them or in the end feel rewarded for having spent a couple of hours trying to get to know and understand. A sad and constipated world. The book lurches among things it might have been

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  • Posted October 12, 2012

    Miserable characters

    Depressing with miserable characters with little to redeem them. Total waste of time and money

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2012

    CoralClan medecine den

    An amber cave with herbs in the cracks. Many nests and two dens in he back.

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  • Posted April 15, 2012

    WOW!!!

    One of the best books I've read to date!!! A keeper!!! A love story like no other.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    I would recommend this book.

    Peter Cameron's style of writing is very descriptive and holds your interest throughout the book.

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    Posted March 15, 2012

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    Posted April 7, 2012

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    Posted March 8, 2012

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    Posted March 18, 2012

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    Posted March 3, 2012

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    Posted June 17, 2012

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    Posted April 25, 2012

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    Posted March 2, 2012

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    Posted April 14, 2012

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    Posted May 15, 2012

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews

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