The Coffins of Little Hope (Paperback)

By Timothy Schaffert

Unbridled Books, 9781609530686, 265pp.

Publication Date: April 3, 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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Description

An 83-year-old obituary writer for a struggling, small-town newspaper finds herself embroiled in intrigue, stumbling onto the story of her career: a country girl has gone missing, perhaps whisked away by an itinerant aerial photographer. Or so it seems. It all could be simply a hoax, or a delusion, the child and child-thief invented from the desperate imagination of a lonely, lovelorn farm woman. The fragility of childhood, the strength of family, and the powerful rumor mills of small, rural towns--The Coffins of Little Hope tells the story of characters caught in the intricately woven webs of myth, legend and deception.

Esther Myles, an obituary writer in her eighties working for a struggling small-town newspaper, finds herself embroiled in intrigue, stumbling upon the story of her career as the story of the girl reaches far and wide, igniting controversy, attracting curiosity-seekers from all over the country to this dying rural town. And what do the gothic tales of Miranda and Desiree, the storybook sisters of Muscatine's series of novels, play in this town's survival and in the enduring mystery of Lenore?


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  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?
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