The Vintage Coat
by Chris Turnbull5 out of 5
Joseph Michaels is 25 and an accidental time traveler. After losing his job Joe finds himself working at the local second-hand shop. One day whilst unpacking new stock Joe comes across an old military coat that he just can't resist trying on. Excited by the powers of the coat, Joe quickly takes it home where he discovers it allows him to travel between present day Alston, Cumbria and the same area during WWII Joe soon finds himself in the midst of living a double life. However, one night an unexpected air raid hits town and everybody is thrown into disarray; and Joe is faced with standing up for the ones he loves, even if it could cost him everything.
Joe is convinced he is living a very unremarkable, until he comes across a vintage coat. When he tries the coat on, he's suddenly in 1943, and a soldier defending England from the Germans.
I bought a signed copy from the author, during the UK Indie Lit Fest at Bradford this year. I've been meaning to get this book for ages, so I was very excited to finally start it.
Joe's life is a disappointment. He's 25 years old, and living alone in the little house he bought with his now ex-girlfriend. He lost his job at the bank, and now works part-time at a second-hand shop. His brothers and sisters seem to do no wrong in his parents' eyes, and dutifully provide weddings and grandchildren, whilst Joe simply exists.
He lives without any motivation or aim, just wallowing in the pain of his recent break-up and failures. Until the coat.
Suddenly Joe is back in 1943, in the village of Alston to protect the local mines.
I liked that, for the most part, it wasn't about the war, although that subtly overshadowed the community and atmosphere. Instead, it is about Joe learning to live again, as his new friend Charlie has an abundance of enthusiasm and gladly drags him out and about.
Joe's time in 1943 is full of warmth, friendship, and a beautifully innocent romance with the local teacher. You can't blame him for wanting to spend as much time as possible in the past; especially as Joe has no idea how the coat works, and risks everything being over, every time he takes the coat off. (Kinda reminded me of "Goodnight Sweetheart" - I used to love watching that as a kid!)
I really enjoyed this story, it's very sweet, and entertaining, and pulls you along as you wonder what is going to happen. It keeps you guessing to the very end, and I thought how it was all tied together was really nicely done.
Of course, there are the inevitable questions that arise when an author tackles time-travel; but I found that I did not care. I just enjoyed Joe's adventure.