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The Girl in the Red Coat
by Kate Hamer

Published: 2016-02-16
Hardcover : 336 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 2 members
   •  An Amazon Best Book of the Year for 2016
   •  Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
   •  Dagger Award finalist

"Kate Hamer’s gripping debut novel immediately recalls the explosion of similarly titled books and movies, from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the ...
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   •  An Amazon Best Book of the Year for 2016
   •  Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
   •  Dagger Award finalist

"Kate Hamer’s gripping debut novel immediately recalls the explosion of similarly titled books and movies, from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels, to The Girl on the Train to Gone Girl … "—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Keeps the reader turning pages at a frantic clip... What’s most powerful here is not whodunnit, or even why, but how this mother and daughter bear their separation, and the stories they tell themselves to help endure it.” —Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You)

“Compulsively readable...Beautifully written and unpredictable, I had to stop myself racing to the end to find out what happened.” —Rosamund Lupton (Sister

“Both gripping and sensitive — beautifully written, it is a compulsive, aching story full of loss and redemption.” —Lisa Ballantyne (The Guilty One)

"Hamer’s dark tale of the lost and found is nearly impossible to put down.” —Booklist

Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing.

And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.

Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good.

Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …

Alternating between Beth’s story and Carmel’s, and written in gripping prose that won’t let go, The Girl in the Red Coat—like Emma Donoghue’s Room and M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans—is an utterly immersive story that’s impossible to put down . . . and impossible to forget.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of February 2016: It’s every parent’s nightmare: Beth, a single mother, takes her 8-year-old daughter, Carmel, to a local festival for some fun and frivolity and she vanishes. What follows is an unusual and terrifying journey for them both. Kate Hamer’s sophisticated debut, The Girl in the Red Coat, is no ordinary whodunit, nor does it resort to over-the-top prurience to get under your skin. In many ways, this makes it even more chilling, as Hamer masterfully manipulates the reader into anticipating the worst with each (frantically) turned page. But ultimately it’s two parallel tales of survival: How does Beth press on in the face of paralyzing shame and worry? How does Carmel keep her wits about her in a frightening and complex situation beyond her comprehension? What gives this novel unexpected power and heart are the ways in which they find to hold onto themselves. --Erin Kodicek


Day 1
It will be like the day in the maze, I told myself. I’ll run round this field looking, scared witless, but we’ll find each other eventually.
The fog had grown cold and dense and I kept stumbling on empty plastic bottles and bumpy ground. ‘Carmel,’ I yelled at the top of my voice, ‘where are you?’
I kept yelling into the fog but it never answered. It just sucked up my voice into its blankness. I wanted more than anything to catch a glimpse of that red, like a poppy standing proud in a cornfield. But there was just a jumble of colour, made milky, as if looking through a wedding veil. I thought I’d go to the entrance and ask for help: an announcement on the tannoy. Or to the St John Ambulance in case she’d fallen over and was there right now having a plaster put on her knee while someone in uniform was saying, ‘All done. Now then, let’s find your mum.’ ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

Fairy tales play an important role throughout The Girl in the Red Coat. Discuss the fairy tale imagery (the woods, the significance of Carmel’s red coat) and how it elevates the novel into the realm of the supernatural. Did this affect your reading of the story?

Families, or, more importantly, family difficulties, are central to The Girl in the Red Coat. What are the various family dynamics at work? Where are there parallels and where are there inconsistencies?

How does Beth handle the loss of her daughter over the course of the novel? Did you notice examples of “tiny actions” that helped her cope? How do those actions compare to the more major developments in Carmel’s disappearance?

Suggested by Members

Does Carmel really have healing powers?
by mannaria (see profile) 03/30/16

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by tmurphy (see profile) 10/30/16

  "the girl in the red coat"by Carolynr (see profile) 04/10/16

you can read the synopsis of the story on the jacket and all the reviews below. I do agree with many of the criticisms of this book - it really isn't a thriller in the true sense of the word; was the... (read more)

  "Page turner"by mannaria (see profile) 03/30/16

Carmel is a daydreaming little girl who is taken from her mum. She adapts well with her lying abductor while her mum is dealing with her daughter's disappearance. Kate Hamer keeps you in suspense as to... (read more)

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