The Girl in the Red Coat centers on 8 year-old Carmel and her mother, Beth. Beth has this harrowing fear that one day she’s gonna lose Carmel & then it actually happens. Carmel and her mother are at this storytelling festival & Carmel wanders off. To give some backstory, Carmel was getting upset with her mother because of how overprotective she is.
Carmel ends up going off with Dennis, a man who pretends that he’s her grandfather. Carmel has never met her grandparents before because Beth had a falling out with them years ago. This part of the story reminds me of the 2015 film The Visit except the movie was a lot creepier. The viewpoint throughout the book alternates between Carmel & Beth from chapter to chapter.
Dennis believes that Carmel has this divine gift of healing and that’s why he kidnaps her. He takes her to different churches & people to showcase her gift & to make a profit from it. Later on in the book, readers discover that Carmel’s great grandmother believed that she had this same gift. Dennis had his wife Dorothy help him in the escapade along with her two daughters, Melody and Silver who Carmel became close with.
Beth dealt with a lot throughout the novel obviously with Carmel being gone for so long. She leaned on her ex-husband & Carmel’s father, Paul & his new girlfriend, Lucy throughout the difficult times.
I think that Dennis was able to keep Carmel for so long because of the lies that he kept telling her–that her mother had died in a bad accident & that her father didn’t want her. Dennis also lied and said that her father wanted for Dennis and Dorothy to care for Carmel instead of him. Carmel was very bright & she tried to get in touch with her father a few times but it always stalled or she had second thoughts.
Without giving out any spoilers, I will say that I enjoyed the ending. The Girl in the Red Coat is at the moment only available in our catalog as a print book.