TRUE STORIES AT THE SMOKY VIEW

Jill McCroskey Coupe

After attending the funeral of her estranged friend Skip in Knoxville, Tennessee, Vrai (short for Vraiment), a forty-something art history librarian with sons of her own, rescues ten-year-old Jonathan, who has been abandoned with no shoes in the funeral home parking lot. The Blizzard of 1993 strands this unlikely duo at the Smoky View Motel, where, motivated in part by the unsolved murders of Jonathan’s parents, they begin to uncover the truth about Skip’s death. With elements of mystery and intrigue, True Stories at the Smoky View is a literary novel about family, friendship, tyranny, and the elusiveness of justice.

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After attending the funeral of her estranged friend Skip in Knoxville, Tennessee, Vrai (short for Vraiment), a forty-something art history librarian with sons of her own, rescues ten-year-old Jonathan, who has been abandoned with no shoes in the funeral home parking lot. The Blizzard of 1993 strands this unlikely duo at the Smoky View Motel, where, motivated in part by the unsolved murders of Jonathan’s parents, they begin to uncover the truth about Skip’s death. With elements of mystery and intrigue, True Stories at the Smoky View is a literary novel about family, friendship, tyranny, and the elusiveness of justice. For Vrai and Jonathan, this is a story of mutual rescue, resulting in new lives for them both.

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  • She Writes Press
  • Paperback
  • April 2016
  • 324 Pages
  • 9781631520518

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$16.95

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About Jill McCroskey Coupe

Jill McCroskey Coupe, a former librarian at Johns Hopkins University, holds an MFA in Fiction from Warren Wilson College. She lives in Baltimore.

Praise

2017 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Gold Medal for Regional Fiction (South)

True Stories at the Smoky View examines the mysteries and complexities of family, friendship, love and romance, and evil both grandiose and petty. In Vrai Lynde, in particular, Coupe has given us a vivid portrait of a complicated woman torn in many directions by her loves and her loyalties.“—Smoky Mountain News review by Jeff Minick

“With intricate story lines involving murder, library research, road trips, and Vrai’s and Jonathan’s quest for justice, and motifs including motherhood, love, marriage, betrayal, and true friendship, there is something for everyone in this light/dark Southern novel by a writer to watch.”Library Journal

“This debut author has a knack for storytelling and great characters.”—Booklist

“This exhilarating debut novel brims with honesty, charm, heart, and good humor.”John Dufresne, author of No Regrets, Coyote

“This is a story that creeps up on you: charming at first, then wrapping you in its spell until you truly feel the characters’ losses and what they have at stake. The plot is something you could almost imagine happening, yet just quirky enough to leave you with a frisson of escapist delight. Coupe’s work is reminiscent of such varied sources as The Decameron, private eye stories and the films of Woody Allen. But ultimately, it’s its own amiable and poignant self.”The Ivy Bookshop blog

You’ve got to love a novel whose protagonist is an emotionally adrift art librarian turned kidnapper and detective. Stir together a literary mystery with a compelling setting, a liberal dash of humor, and a touching relationship and you get Jill McCroskey Coupe’s debut novel, True Stories at the Smoky View.” —Story Circle Book Reviews

Discussion Questions

1. When True Stories at the Smoky View begins, Vrai is irritated with Skip, even though she has come to Knoxville for his funeral. Why is she so angry? Does her attitude toward Skip change by the end of the novel?

2. Did Vrai kidnap Jonathan or did she rescue him? Would you have driven off with the boy the way she did or would you have come up with some other solution?

3. What role do Skip’s “True Stories” play? Do you think Skip would have been able to publish these stories? Are they any good?

4. Is this a road trip/adventure novel, a mystery, a love story, or does it fall into some other category?

5. What three adjectives best describe Frank?

6. Are there ways in which Frank Leigh and Rupert Brill are similar? How are they different?

7. Why do you think the author named the main character Vraiment? Does Vrai fit the stereotype of a librarian?

8. What motivates Vrai and Jonathan in their search for justice? Where Frank is concerned, do they succeed?

9. On page 311 we’re told that “Vrai seems to have sworn off men.” What’s your reaction to the evolution of her character that leads her to this point?

10. What happens to the characters atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii? Did you find the ending satisfying?