I was sent an uncorrected bound proof by Virago because I was one of ten who reacted to their tweet. ‘Would I like to write a review on Getting Colder?’. Yes, I would!
In Amanda Coe’s Getting Colder the main theme is disfunctional: in people and relationships. The story starts after the death of Sara, mother to Nigel and Louise. That is to say, absent mother to. She left them when they were children to go and live with her yummie play wright Patrick. Nigel is sent off to boarding school, Louise to her auntie B; their father cannot really bother with educating children. No wonder that in adult life both are scraping on. Nigel is a succesful lawyer with a kind of trophy wife and two lovely sons. In his everyday life he is plagued by stomach and bowel problems. Louise has turned out to be a worrier who believes in psychics. Her two children, Holly and James, are to all appearances not doing well. Mother, brother and sister are not exactly close, after the funeral Nigel and Louise meet more often than they care to. Louise for all kinds of reasons starts spending lots of time in Cornwall, annoying her stepdad Philip. Nigel is arranging all matters having to do with their mother’s will. In steps Amy, a student who claims to be doing research on Patrick. She turns out to be as disfunctional and is on the prowl for a nice house to live in, even considering marrying the old writer living in that house.
Few things happen in Getting Cold. The things that do happen serve to enlighten the way the main characters react to them and to the others. Back flashes and old letters sent by Patrick to Sara or by Sara to her children make clear that things are not all as they seem. Most importantly, Sara appears to be less of an innocent victim falling into the hands of a selfish artist, Patrick is truely distraught about her dying and cannot really cope without her. The most important twists in Getting Cold are the ones that all of a sudden put a person in another light. James, Louise’s son on his way to unemployment for example, turns out to a young man who is clear on his future and who is always prepared to spent time with his newly found young cousins.
Few things happen in Getting Cold; its characters might be slightly stereotype but they convince nevertheless. Coe has managed to describe them in such a way that I could envision them (could this have to do with her writing for television as well?) and could accept their behaviour. I loved the twists showing Patrick to be the loving husband, Sara the manipulating wife and son/cousin/grandchild James trustworthy and reliable. The steps back into the past are functional and put the finger on all the disfunctionality.
I do not think Getting Colder is a great book, it is definitely a nice intriguing book about people struggling to find their way. For some kind of reason I can imagine it also being made into an intriguing television series.