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The Coffins of Little Hope

Timothy Schaffert


List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (4/3/2012)
MP3 CD (6/21/2016)
Hardcover, Large Print (2/1/2012)

May 2011 Indie Next List

“At the heart of this story is narrator Essie Myles, an 83-year-old great-grandmother who has been writing obituaries for her father's small-town newspaper since she was a teenager. Far from morbid, Essie is a born storyteller, and she takes the reader on a wonderful journey into the nuances of a small town and its reaction when a little girl goes missing. Essie recounts the disappearance of the girl and in the process interweaves the stories of her own family and those of the town. Filled with rich characters and written with both charm and wonder, this should be the next book on your nightstand!”
— Julia MacDonald, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, VT
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Timothy Schaffert has created his most memorable character yet in Essie, an octogenarian obituary writer for her family's small town newspaper. When a young country girl is reported to be missing, perhaps whisked away by an itinerant aerial photographer, Essie stumbles onto the story of her life. Or, it all could be simply a hoax, or a delusion, the child and child-thief invented from the desperate imagination of a lonely, lovelorn woman. Either way, the story of the girl reaches far and wide, igniting controversy, attracting curiosity-seekers and cult worshippers from all over the country to this dying rural town. And then it is revealed that the long awaited final book of an infamous series of YA gothic novels is being secretly printed on the newspaper's presses.

The Coffins of Little Hope tells a feisty, energetic story of characters caught in the intricately woven webs of myth, legend and deception even as Schaffert explores with his typical exquisite care and sharp eye the fragility of childhood, the strength of family, the powerful rumor mills of rural America, and the sometimes dramatic effects of pop culture on the way we shape our world.

Unbridled Books, 9781609530402, 262pp.

Publication Date: April 19, 2011

Conversation Starters from

  1. In this book, families are of varied structures and shapes. How do you think the author defines family? 
  2. Pop culture and youth play a critical role in this novel. How do you think age is treated? 
  3. What would you want said in your obituary? 
  4. For some characters in this book, performing magic tricks is a wonderful diversion and shared activity. How does the theme of magic flow through this book? What's the real magic this book depicts? 
  5. Truth is personal here, and relative. Or is it? 
  6. Part of this story is about another story. How do the two books and plots work together? 
  7. Did the girl disappear? 
  8. What is this book saying about change, both personal and cultural? 
  9. How does this novel portray motherhood? 
  10. Memory and memories are important to this story. How?