This is my symphony

What I read & what I lived …

The Coffins of Little Hope
Timothy Schaffert

Give me an octogenarian obituary writer–and one named Essie, at that–and you’ve got me hooked. And while it took nearly the entire book to figure out the title (and, quite frankly, I don’t really understand why it was chosen–although the wordplay was clever), I wasn’t disappointed. Essie Myles, twice-widowed, lives in small town Nebraska where she makes a family with her grandson and great-granddaughter. Essie (or Ess or simply S) writes her obituaries with the same attention of an investigative reporter. The novel pivots on Essie’s trying to ascertain whether or not young Lenore has been abducted and killed by her mother’s boyfriend–or whether the girl is merely an invention of her pitiable mother.

Spinning around Lenore’s absence is the story of Tess, a thirteen-year-old whose life is upturned when her long-absent mother returns; of Doc, whose job as editor of the County Paragraph hasn’t fit him since he tried it on after his beloved father died; of W. Muscatine, author of a series of gothic children’s books, who secretly corresponds with Essie while the town tries to ferret out who has leaked the series’ latest installment. If you love characters as Charles Dickens and John Irving love characters, you won’t be disappointed with Little Hope.

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