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Buy This Book: The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert

At his website, Timothy Schaffert says of his past books that they are, “slim volumes,” and that they “take blessedly few hours to read end to end,” and that is true as well of his latest novel, The Coffins of Little Hope. It did take only a few hours to read, but what joy there was in those hours. Stick to the ribs joy with a delightfully drawn cast of warm, relatable characters. Consider Essie Myles, for instance. At the age of 8, Essie or Ess or S as she is sometimes known, wrote her first obituary for her mother. Now 83, Essie has been chronicling the town’s dead her entire life when she is summoned by the mother of a young girl who has gone missing for months and asked to write the child’s obituary . . . the obituary of the “vaporous Lenore”. Vaporous because no one in town, including Essie, knows whether the vanished Lenore was ever real. It’s quite possible she, and her presumed abduction, is the invention of a lonely woman in dire need of attention ... the solitary Daisy. Daisy who as far as anyone can tell has always been the single occupant of the Crippled Eighty, a farm that passed to her from her father. The facts of Daisy’s story, whether about Lenore’s birth or her disappearance, can’t be established making it all the more compelling to the townsfolk. Speculation is rampant. Somehow Lenore’s abduction becomes tied into the publication of a final book in a series of YA gothic novels which the elusive Daisy is heard reading, husky-voiced, from a bootlegged volume over the radio. Speculation has it that this is a mother's effort to entice Lenore, to conjure her return. Ultimately, events roll into one big media circus, drawing coverage from around the world. Even the author of the YA series puts in an appearance. Might the town along with the newspaper and the elusive Lenore be saved? Is her abduction a hoax or the delusion of a lonely, lovelorn lady?

Essie is at a loss, as is her granddaughter Tiffany with whom Essie has a most delightful and warm grandmother/granddaughter relationship. The love between this very old woman and this very young girl is one of the true gifts of this book. It is a treasure unfolded throughout the twists of the larger plot and there is nothing vaporous or doubtful about it. Where the larger plot takes on human nature’s proclivity to engage in drama, even to foster it, to fall for it and to be led by it, the bond Essie and Tiffany share stands as a powerful, iconic reminder of family, of love and courage and of loyalty.

And throughout, Timothy Schaffert writes with grace and style, a wry wit and most notably a depth of compassion for character that is just engaging on every level. That’s the stick to your ribs part. The Coffins of Little Hope is an altogether lovely read.


This sounds like a wonderful read! Terrific review, Barbara!
Joni Rodgers said…
Thanks for another great review, Bobbi. I love Timothy Schaffert!

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