Short Story: "The Coat" by Emma Gollan

"The Coat" by Emma Gollan
a short story


from WOMAN magazine, Aug. 14, 1971, pg 51

First Sentence:  It was on the afternoon of Paul's interview that Katy first saw the coat.

Last Sentence:  "To celebrate, give her a choice of any coat in your window."

I can find absolutely no information on this author at all.  She does not bring any results on amazon or LibraryThing.  Perhaps she only ever published a few short stories, mayhap only this one?

A short story indeed taking up 4 columns of type on a single over sized magazine page.  "The Coat" is a somewhat old-fashioned story as it tells the story of a newly married couple and yet it is timeless as it deals with the new, unsure, unsteady feelings a couple experiences during that beginning time in a marriage.

Katy and Paul are young, newlyweds, with a recently born baby, living with Paul's parents.  The story is told from Katy's point of view and her in-laws are strong-willed, especially her mother-in-law; whom Katy finds domineering and opinionated.  Paul is a lawyer, like his father, and everyone has assumed would work with him and eventually take over the business, but that very day he is in London going for an interview with a firm there.  The two of them plan to move away and make a life for their family in the city.  Katy sees a coat in the local shop window.  Usually there are several on display, but today just this one and it is unique.  Modern, daring, bold colour, it suits her to a tee and she'd love to buy it but knows she shouldn't spend the money right now.  She imagines how horrified her mother-in-law would be with it, the brightness of the green alone would have her open-mouthed.  The owner's son, a long-time friend of hers, comes out and talks with her.  The display is his idea, the coat would look splendid on her, talk gets round to Paul.  The friend is rather shocked that Paul would take work away from his father, as he's always talked of taking over the business ... hasn't he?

As the day progresses, Katy begins to doubt herself.  Has she talked Paul into moving away?  Is he doing this for her only?  Does he really want to work in London?  What has she done?  At the same time the coat hovers in the background as a symbol of her (and Paul's) independence.


  1. This is my mother. She wrote numerous short stories many of which were published in women’s journals. She died in 2002 but I have kept a number of manuscripts and magazines.


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