Coral Glynn Hardcover – Feb 28 2012
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Praise for Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You:
"Deliciously vital right from the start . . . A piece of vocal virtuosity and possibly Cameron's best book . . . It is a bravura performance, and . . . a stunning little book." -- Lorrie Moore, The New York Review of Books
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Coral Glynn is a young nurse, and she has been hired to provide private nursing care to old Mrs Hart who is dying of some malady. She arrives at this big dark house in the country and is shown to her room. An attic room with a singular unmade bed. Her patient requires care and injections for her pain, and that keeps Coral busy. Mrs Hart's son, Clement Hart, is the only other member of the family. He was injured in the great War, and has a limp from bad burns. He has cloistered himself in the house, and goes out a couple of times a week to meet a friend, Robin in the local pub. There is some implication of repressed homosexuality and that complicates the storyline. The housekeeper/cook is Mrs Prence, an unlikable, bitter old woman. Not much of a life. Coral's only relief from nursing Mrs Hart is walking in the local forest, and on one of her walks she encounters two young children playing frightening, odd games. She tries to intervene, but they seem intent upon continuing. For some unfathomable reason she lets this incident go. Her patient dies and Major Hart asks her to marry. This sets off a strange set of incidents that seem quite unlikely, but in those times, and in that place, it must be true. Lives are set apart, the police come to call, and Coral leaves quietly in the night. Misunderstandings and unsaid words are some of the causes, but it is the people, who think so lowly of themselves, who do not have the courage to speak up, to set things right. This is a world that is foreign to me, but in this day where women's rights are being trampled upon, I can begin to understand this kind of non-action.
This is a book so well written that I savored every word. It creeps up on you, the feelings and actions of these people so foreign to our lives of today. Unrequited love and sad, lonely lives are woven throughout the book, so each character seems to fit in succinctly.
"Major Hart tells a male friend that he's thinking of proposing marriage, the friend asks the major exactly what he feels,
"I would not call it a happiness," says Maj. Hart. "A relief, perhaps. A feeling of something alive between us. A connection, I suppose." This is the kind of life that is expected in these circumstances, happiness is not understood nor expected. I heard Maureen Corrigan on NPR give a review of this book, which caused me to purchase it and read it. What she said stayed with me. "To extend the Jane Eyre comparison for a second, the impediment to marriage here is not a mad wife in the attic, but a sad friend in the closet."
Highly Recommended. prisrob 03-14-12
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You: A Novel
The Weekend: A Novel
But Coral's amoral awfulness doesn't mar this novel! Far from it! It's what makes the plot possible. The book is full of unlikable characters but that makes it deliciously fun. What's really great is that the plot is quite a departure from the standard "gothic romance" so that you won't anticipate what's going to happen next to these people. (Wait until you see how it turns out! I WAS SURPRISED!)
Cameron does an exquisite job of showing the reader what's really going on among the Major, Coral, and his best friend Robin and Robin's chatty wife, Dolly. The novel is set in the early 1950s when most of the "sub textual" activities in this novel aren't even acknowledge to exist.
It was precisely the "different-ness" of this novel that made me enjoy it and recommend it here to readers who like being a bit surprised in the end.
No one has mentioned the appalling editing job in this book. I don't mind an error or two in a book, but this was riddled with them. It's as if the editor ran a spell check and didn't read the book. There are missing words, substitutions for words, such as "this" for "his", repeated words, missing end quotes. By the last 20 pages, there are mistakes on just about every page. I expected more professionalism from such a distinguished publisher.
I couldn't help feeling a bit letdown at the end because I thought with a little more effort, this book could have been really something to recommend. I certainly felt that way until about half way through.
If that were all, it would be much. But it doesn't really touch the important part of Cameron's work. Peter Cameron's books are a little like Cezanne's apples and peaches: not only are they exquisite as art, they seem to contain or embody all that's good, the best parts of humanity. Cameron's fiction brims with empathy and humor and is devoid of cynicism (that easier emotion for writers to conjure). Cameron's are books you might shy away from lending -- because you'll actually care about them and want to be sure not to lose track of them off your shelf.
Now comes Coral Glynn, a novel set in 1950's damp England at Hart House, home to Mrs. Hart, dying of cancer, and her son, Major Hart, who had been wounded in the war.
"Coral Glynn was the third nurse to arrive at Hart House 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."
But, Coral does not immediately escape, and the plot of Coral Glynn swiftly propels forward. To my mind, the novel confirms Cameron's mastery as a writer and lays out his imaginative range. You see, while Coral Glynn has all the craft Cameron's previously exhibited, it takes the reader to places and depths not seen or necessarily felt in his earlier work. I loved Coral Glynn: it sparkles when it wants and displays Cameron's gentle sense of humor. But it's the darker side that grabs, surprises, and, all at once, saddens and bestows hope.
Based on Coral Glynn and his other work, Cameron is not just a "writer's writer." He's better: he's a reader's writer.
Coral Glynn is the type of person who can be easily taken advantage of -- the type of person one can walk all over -- the type of person most of us would never yearn to be. Yet -- yet -- there are qualities to Coral Glynn that make you care about her and hope she will find fulfillment, happiness, and joy in her somewhat tired, boring, and miserable life. Life is what you make it, but yet -- can we always be the captain of our ship? Can we make events head in the direction we want them to? Coral is so down-trodden, sad, and lonely. She is very pathetic and while feeling sorry for her, one also wants to just slap some sense into her. And I mean hitting her really hard!!!!!!
It's the 1950's and Coral arrives at Hart House to nurse a dying elderly woman. The son of the ill woman, Major Clement Hart, is back from the war with some physical problems. Clement has difficulties of his own and roams around Hart House like a lost soul. Then he meets Coral. While reading one can vividly picture Hart House -- set in a dark and dreary woods, cloudy and rainy skies, a formidable situation that Coral and you, the reader, will find yourself smack dab in the thick of things.
While caring for the ailing Mrs. Hart, Coral and the Major strike up somewhat of a relationship. Others involved in the couples lives are the Loftings, Robin and Dolly, who are Major Clement's dearest and best friends. Add a somewhat seemingly sinister and opinionated housekeeper and an unrelenting police investigator to the mix and the scene is set for an exciting read.
Coral is NOT world-wise or even street-wise, she is maddeningly naive to say the least. She is the type of person who others always take advantage of. Coral answers every question with a question. Coral has no back-bone, no spirit, no joy. When Major Hart is suddenly attracted to her, what is a girl to do? This is the start of an enticing, interesting, mysterious read, one that had many twists and turns and unpredictable events going on that will leave you reading late into the night.
There is suspense, there is 'unpleasantness' in Coral's past that catch up to her, there is murder, there are questions galore. What I really enjoyed about Peter Cameron's style of writing -- beside the fact that he writes so fluidly and wonderfully -- is how the story would be moving along, you are reading and enjoying the plot and story line, and then BAM! Cameron casually throws a wrench in the plot, drops the bomb, writes in such a surprise here and there that you can't help but think REALLY!? WHAT NOW! I loved these little collisions with reality in the plot -- wow, what terrific reading!
Coral is not who you may think she is, but then, who is in this book? The characters are full of the unexpected and will catch you unawares constantly. The plot will startle and grab you and moves in directions you will never see coming. Cameron writes like a dream and makes his book an unsettling tale that will stun and shock you at times. How the characters treat each other, how the characters react to situations, Coral's past ramming head-on with her present life -- all of this adds up to a heck of a read.
Don't miss this one -- it's breath-taking, fun, and exciting -- a great read!