Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron
Coral Glynn is about a nurse in postwar England who travels between families caring for the sick in temporary situations. When she is taking care of a dying woman, the woman’s son, crippled in the war, proposes to her rather suddenly. Coral and the Major are probably the two most awkward people of all time, and their courtship is almost painful to witness because of the constant stops and starts and misunderstandings. Coral always seems like a victim waiting for a predator, while the Major is depressed and suicidal.
The writing style is pared down, almost comparable to Hemingway. The vast majority of what is reported to readers is surface-level actions and dialogue; interpretations and meanings are left out. The “iceberg principle” definitely applies to these characters. That sometimes means that their actions seem weird and incomprehensible. The ending is reminiscent of The Age of Innocence, but nowhere near as mind-blowing. It’s a very strange book, one that might keep you thinking and wondering for a while after you put it down.