THE COFFINS OF LITTLE HOPE

Timothy Schaffert

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.

more …

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?

less …
  • Unbridled Books
  • Paperback
  • April 2012
  • 272 Pages
  • 9781609530686

Buy the Book

$14.95

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Timothy Schaffert

Timothy Schaffert grew up on a farm in Nebraska and currently lives in Omaha. He’s the author of three previous critically acclaimed novels including The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters and The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God. His novels have been a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. His writing has won numerous other awards and honors awards, including the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, the Henfield/Transatlantic Review Award and the Nebraska Book Award. He currently teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Praise

“There’s a lot of plot to The Coffins of Little Hope. But Mr. Schaffert’s style is so gossamer-light that the story elements don’t become cumbersome. His book can accommodate a large cast of characters who bump into one another with an almost screwball regularity … Mr. Schaffert’s sly wit and frank affection for his characters can make him sound like a very American Alexander McCall Smith.”Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Charm buzzes all around Timothy Schaffert’s new novel, but don’t be fooled. It’s the story of a steadfast, multi-generational family in a small Nebraska town . . . that just happens to be obsessed with death and missing children. The Coffins of Little Hope is like an Edward Gorey cartoon stitched in pastel needlepoint. Its creepiness scurries along the edges of these heartwarming pages like some furry creature you keep convincing yourself you didn’t see….alluringly strange to the very last page.”Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“A witty, sometimes profound story about media, mortality and rash acts undertaken in the name of love.”People Magazine

“It’s small town, big drama in Schaffert’s sublime latest . . . Schaffert spins out the story and its offbeat characters with compassion, spoofing the nation’s voracious appetite for “news” and suggesting that perhaps not all stories are created equal. Piercing observations and sharp, subtle wit make this a standout.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Discussion Questions

In this book, families are of varied structures and shapes. How do you think the author defines family?

Pop culture and youth play a critical role in this novel. How do you think age is treated?

What would you want said in your obituary?

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?

Truth is personal here, and relative. Or is it?

Part of this story is about another story. How do the two books and plots work together?

Did the girl disappear?

What is this book saying about change, both personal and cultural?

How does this novel portray motherhood?

Memory and memories are important to this story. How?