In the winter of 1952, Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her husband Philip, a GP. With Philip spending long hours on call, Isabel finds herself isolated and lonely as she strives to adjust to the realities of married life.
Woken by intense cold one night, she discovers an old RAF greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under it for warmth, she starts to dream. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled by a knock at her window.
Outside is a young RAF pilot, waiting to come in.
His name is Alec, and his powerful presence both disturbs and excites her. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin an intense affair. But nothing has prepared her for the truth about Alec's life, nor the impact it will have on hers ...
In 1952, with England still suffering the aftershocks of WWII ("Shortages, restrictions, rules and ration books, coupons and exhortations..."), Isabel and her new husband Philip move to the countryside, where he is taking over a medical practice. While Philip is immediately absorbed in his work, Isabel feels lonely and unsure of her decision to enter into the life of a country doctor's wife. One cold night, Isabel discovers, in the top of the cupboard, an RAF greatcoat, apparently being kept by Mrs. Atkinson, their strange landlady. Before long the ghost of the coat's former owner, a WWII officer named Alec, appears outside the window and draws Isabel into a curious and passionate romance. It's only a matter of time before the truth of the officer's past is revealed. Orange Prize winner Dunmore (for A Spell of Winter) this time delivers more of a slender film treatment than a fully developed novel, with blurry paranormal rules and obvious themes about the impact of war and its losses on our lives.