Good God, that title sounds very click-baity. sorry about that.
Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron
I read this novel back in January 2015. All I could remember about it was that I really liked it, but I couldn’t remember one plot point nor any other thing about what was actually printed between the covers. So when I was perusing all the many audio books that the wonderful Simon Prebble has narrated I couldn’t resist the urge to buy his reading of Coral Glynn. I hesitated at first because I had read the book so recently it seemed like wasting money. But I got over it and hit the ‘buy’ button. I’m so glad that I did. I ended up loving the book even more than I remember (and this time I remember what it is about).
The eponymous Coral Glynn is a home nurse for a dying elderly woman and is a bit of an adult orphan with no friends and family. In her more hopeful moods she mentions a friend in London, but when push comes to shove she isn’t willing to test the tenuous bonds of that relationship. There is a housekeeper who hates her in a way that reminds me of Mrs. Danvers and the possibility of an unreliable narrator. In many ways Coral seems to be too damaged or just really poorly equipped emotionally to deal with the world.
When you read Coral Glynn (and you will read Coral Glynn), you will be surprised by how much Cameron manages to pack into this slim volume. Even more surprising is the fact that, although there are bit players, none of the characters seem one-dimensional. They are all wonderfully and tragically believable. It isn’t a perfect book. There were one or two moments that faintly bothered my common sense meter, but now I quibble.
Sometimes I feel like I compare every book I like to those of my favorite authors (e.g., Barbara Pym and Anita Brookner to name two). I felt the urge to do that with Coral Glynn but didn’t want to bring up the connection, until, that is, I came across this review by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan who does exactly that. She also throws in Elizabeth Taylor, and as I allude to above, Daphne du Maurier. I think I would throw Muriel Spark into the mix as well.
I will leave you with one of my favorite things from Corrigan’s review:
I was in my local independent bookstore last week, enjoying the endangered pleasure of wandering around and snuffling through interesting-looking books, when I overheard two women talking in front of the new releases section. “I need a new British novelist,” one of them said. Ladies, I should have spoken up, but the moment passed and, besides, it was too awkward to explain that one of the best British novelists writing today was born in New Jersey.