The Girl In The Red Coat moved back and forth between kidnapped eight-year-old Carmel and her mother, Beth. Carmel was snatched by a man who claimed to be her grandfather and later exerted total control over her by saying her mother had died. The most surprising thing about the novel was how the author made it seem so plausible for Carmel to rely on the lies her “Grandfather” told her and succumb completely to his way of life.
Carmel’s narrative was the more compelling portion of the novel because of her innocence at believing her captor was actually her grandfather. She had a bit of a rebellious spirit and silently opposed each action her grandfather and his wife took that chipped away at her old life. She went along with wearing frilly clothes, instead of her normal outfits but outwardly rebelled when Grandfather changed her name and cut her hair. Those moments made Carmel a spunky protagonist who I rooted for whole heartedly.
Carmel’s kidnapping was odd and unique because Grandfather was a religious fanatic who snatched Carmel because he believed she had supreme healing powers. He then started using her to “heal” others. Her experiences were presented as a total story. I knew how Carmel felt, which was reinforced through details about those around her as well as her surroundings.
Beth’s story paled in comparison to Carmel’s. As the days of Carmel’s captivity dragged on, her mother was fraught with grief about finding her daughter. Much of Beth’s narrative was focused only on those thoughts and that emphasis overtook her chapters. The absence of dialogue and human interaction in Beth’s chapters made it tiresome to read about Beth’s worry. The inclusion of an investigator and description of the search would have made her parts more interesting, but there was hardly any mention of what search efforts were taking place.
When I reached the end I realized that there hadn’t been any discernible plot climax. Beth’s depression and attempt to live her life plodded along without any real change to her life, and Carmel’s life went on in much the same way. While reading, I found myself waiting for a big event to occur, but aside from the initial kidnapping there was nothing spectacular about the plot.