Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Unbridled Books (pub.date 19th April,2011)

Publishers synopsis 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.

"One thing I've had to discover anew over and over again in my many, many years: a small town has only the illusion of a devoted and close-knit family.

None of us are family. We are all deeply alien, one to the other."

It may be my advancing years or it may be that I've lived most of my life in small farming communities but what ever the reason I fell head over heels for this book and the wonderful Essie. Every page is enlivened with her pithy and perceptive observations of life, her community and family.......... the local church
"A Lutheran church in Nebraska is typically a place where any mad passion for Christ is politely concealed. Men and women recite the various creeds in hypnotic monotone; the hymns, pumped from wheezy organ pipes, are sung with no lilt or musicality. The members of the choir not only don't dance, they don't sway. That's not to say no one is ever smacked hard with God's love or filled up to the eyeballs with God's love, but when you are, you keep it to yourself."
or musings after visiting her sister in a nursing home
" a sophisticated civilisation wouldn't ridicule senilty, it would elevate it, worship it, wouldn't it? We could train ourselves to see poetry in the nonsense of dementia, to actually look forward to becoming so untethered from the world. We's make a ceremony of casting off our material goods and confining ourselves to a single room, leaving all our old, abandoned space to someone new, someone young, so that we could die alone, indifferent to our own decay and lost beauty."
Whether Essie is relating the simple everyday activities and happenings within her family or commenting on the strange and, sometimes almost surreal , larger events which set the town astir it's very funny while at the same time having a poignant and thought-provoking undertone. I've never read anything by Timothy Schaffert before but I think his writing is brilliant and will be looking for more.

An absolute little gem of a tale...........I loved it!

Please be aware that the quotes I have used are from a galley copy and may change before the book goes to press.

Thanks to NetGalley and Unbridled Books for making this book available to read and review.

What's In A Name Challenge 4 (title with a size in it)


  1. Glad you liked this! I have this one to read, and have to agree that it sounded delightful! I can't wait to get to it!

  2. Can't wait to get to this one. I've been wanting to read it since I heard Schaffert at the Omaha Lit Fest.

  3. You'll love his earlier books, too. They have the same sensibility, especially The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters (his first novel) and The Singing and Cancing Daughters of God.