Pub. Date: April 5th, 2016
Jill McCroskey Coupe’s first novel, TRUE STORIES AT THE SMOKY VIEW begins in Knoxville, Tennessee, where 40-something art history librarian Vrai (short for Vraiment, which means “really” in French) has the difficult task of delivering the ashes of her dead friend to his mother. Vrai was estranged from Skip at the time of his death, and the awkward visit to their hometown only accentuates her loss. Vrai hopes to pay her respects and then speed back to Baltimore.
Two things stop her.
First, she discovers that 10-year-old Jonathan, the son of her deceased childhood best friend, has been abandoned with no shoes in the funeral home parking lot. After waiting for more than an hour, Vrai takes the boy with her, intending to reunite him with his legal guardians at some point.
Second, weather intervenes. The worst storm in Knoxville’s history, the Blizzard of ’93, drops nearly three feet of snow in the Southern Appalachians. Soon stranded in the Smoky View Motel, Vrai and Jonathan begin reading some stories that Skip left behind. The stories are sinister tales that call his death into question. More, the stories remind Jonathan of his parents, assassinated by Pinochet’s henchmen. Jonathan’s insistence that Vrai look into Skip’s death is the beginning of a quest that takes this unlikely duo to Baltimore and beyond.
TRUE STORIES AT THE SMOKY VIEW is refreshingly unconventional—a novel primarily about family and friendship that includes a search for justice, a story of Pinochet and international politics, and an attempt to challenge tyranny in all its guises.
Praise for True Stories at the Smoky View
“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
“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
“You’ve got 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…True Stories at the Smoky View.”—StoryCircle Book Reviews
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About the Author
A former librarian at Johns Hopkins University, Jill McCroskey Coupe has an MFA in Fiction from
Warren Wilson College. She grew up in Knoxville and now lives in Baltimore.