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.
When, within days of her arrival, the dying woman Coral is caring for dies and, the same day, more or less out of the blue, the woman's war-wounded son proposes, Coral agrees to to marry this man she barely knows, not for money, not for a home, not because she feels anything for him, but because she can't see any particular reason not to. When she witnesses two children playing a very dangerous game in the woods, she tells them to stop, but they say they won't, so she shrugs it off, walks away and tells no one what she has seen. Big mistake!
This is the story of a woman who seems to be incapable of getting emotionally involved in her own life, let alone anyone else's. A woman who believes that "when in doubt, walk away." It's fascinating in an off-putting kind of way and very well told by its author. If you're looking for happily ever afters, this is probably not your book. If you're looking for fiction that's schmaltz-free and decidedly different, this might be just the thing.
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.