Jennifer's Reviews > The Coffins of Little Hope

The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert
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's review
Sep 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in September, 2011

I really enjoyed this book, which is interesting, because usually I am all about a good story--a good old-fashioned plot driven story. This book, however, contains several stories and potential stories and stories about stories intricately woven around one amazing character, Essie Myles, 83 years old and still writing obituaries for the family newspaper. Schaffert has a beautiful way with words and paints such a lovely picture of a life lived and still being lived. He captured that sense in all of us that we are still the person we have always been despite the aging on the outside for all to see.

In one of my favorite scenes, Essie happens upon Bernice a dear friend from her youth. Essie thought she lived with her children now, but Bernice informs her that she kept falling and breaking things and now she's in the home. Essie:
"It did feel as if, even with my weakling's grip I could shatter the bones in her hand with little effort, and maybe that was what made me feel so overcome with affection for her just then. I wanted to take her home with me, where we could live our last days as eccentric relics, doddering and afflicted , our once-a-week curl-and-sets falling apart lock by lock together. We could endlessly reminisce, live in the past to an unhealthy degree, then politely kill each other some winter night before bedtime, stirring poison into our cups of whiskey-spiked chamomile tea, wearing party hats. Then, nervous about our double homicide, we could lie in bed together, holding hands again, frightened and waiting, still wondering, after all these years, if we even believed in our own souls. Bernice pulled her hand away. 'Well, you take care, Essie,' she she said with what I interpreted as a privileged tone of dismissal, and just like that, my fantasy of our last-ditch life together dissolved. Bernice shuffled off, content with how things had gone for her. She had no need for a pact of any kind."

If you want a neat little package all tied up in a bow, you'll be disappointed. But don't miss the beauty in this mess.

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Susan I love, love, LOVE your reviews, Jennifer!

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