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The Lost Saints of Tennessee: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120052
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #984,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Pitch-perfect . . . In her powerful debut, Franklin-Willis expertly crafts a Southern novel that stands with genre classics like The Prince of Tides and Bastard Out of Carolina. . . . A measured, slow-burning book, with complex, compelling characters and secrets that reveal themselves slowly. A beautiful novel from a talented new author, The Lost Saints of Tennessee proves that in great literature, as in life, we must always expect the unexpected." —Bookpage

"Compelling . . . It is the natural voices of Franklin-Willis's characters and the Southern setting that carry this novel. . . . The author's honest prose rises from the heart. . . . Leaves the reader rooting for the characters until the novel's last page."—The Boston Globe

"Sensitively told."—The New York Times

"Anyone who’s ever left home and regretted it—or, for that matter, stayed home and regretted it—will find much here to savor, as will those whose family ties consist of the kind of cracked emotional currency Zeke and Lillian have exchanged most of their lives. . . . [The Cooper's] interactions are . . . brusque, impatient, angry, down-to-earth, sorrowful—they’re a loving but realistic bunch, their attempts to reach each other crusted over with failure. But they don’t give up. What most embodies this spirit, and anchors this vivid, faithfully drawn family history, is Lillian and Zeke’s 25-year-old estrangement, on one side sadly accepting, on the other, fiercely judgmental—both ready to set the record straight. . . . Though the reader is left to evaluate whose side is more sympathetic, it’s clear that only the two together can make up a whole, one that offers hope — and maybe just a little bit of sainthood after all."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Skillfully chronicles the misadventures of a poor small-town Tennessee family . . . Written in homespun but accomplished prose . . . An impressive first novel."—Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

"Poignant . . . Franklin-Willis plumbs the depths of family dynamics, compassionately depicting her characters as they struggle with situations over which they have no control." —Library Journal (starred review)

"Franklin-Willis's well-rendered debut charms."—Publishers Weekly

"Rich in spot-on references: readers will taste the cornbread, shiver at the snow on the mountaintops, and be warmed by the Cooper family's love and loyalty through good times and bad."—Shelf Awareness

“The gifted novelist, Amy Franklin-Willis, has written a riveting, hardscrabble book on the rough, hardscrabble south, which has rarely been written about with such grace and compassion. It reminded me of the time I read Dorothy Allison’s classic, Bastard out of Carolina.”—Pat Conroy

The Lost Saints of Tennessee is a joy—a wonderful, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting story about the unbreakable bonds of brotherhood and the human will to survive. I was deeply moved by it and equally impressed.”—Elizabeth George

“Franklin-Willis has grace on the page.”–Dorothy Allison

“Amy Franklin-Willis’s characters speak with graceful authenticity. The Lost Saints of Tennessee moves from sadness to understanding, through a landscape full of small mysteries and large truths. Franklin-Willis proves herself a writer of promise and talent.”—Mark Childress

“Franklin-Willis has endless compassion for her working-class southern characters. . . . [An] uplifting story of one man’s attempt to make a better life for himself and his family.”—Booklist

“I was in love with The Lost Saints of Tennessee all the way through. Every page. It was the most satisfying book I’ve read in a long time.”—Catherine Ryan Hyde

“In her splendid debut novel, The Lost Saints of Tennessee, Amy Franklin-Willis delivers a tender, lyrical tale about one broken man’s search for forgiveness, healing, and the real meaning of family. Her words ring true on every page and compel us to follow in step as Ezekiel Cooper journeys from the life he has known to the one he so desperately craves.”—Susan Gregg Gilmore

“Amy Franklin-Willis has given us a first novel full of great love, pathos, and change. A rich and compelling tale of a large family and the complexities of the human spirit, you will not want to put The Lost Saints of Tennessee down. It is a completely satisfying read.”—Jeanne Ray

About the Author

An eighth-generation Southerner, Amy Franklin-Willis was born in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2007, she received an Emerging Writer Grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation to complete The Lost Saints of Tennessee.

www.amyfranklin-willis.com
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

An eighth-generation Southerner, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. I received an Emerging Writer Grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation in 2007 to complete The Lost Saints of Tennessee, a novel inspired by stories of my father's childhood in Pocahontas, Tennessee. I currently live on the West Coast with my family.

Customer Reviews

It was a pleasure to read such a well told story.
cvca40
This is a story of an everyday family...a family of imperfections, secrets, deep love & forgiveness, especially the forgiveness of oneself.
JJ
The characters are multi-dimensional and complex and the prose is rich without being over blown.
Holly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By James J. Kane VINE VOICE on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"You running away from something?"
Moses Washington to Ezekiel Cooper in The Lost Saints of Tennessee

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina

Set in southwestern Tennessee and the countryside around Charlottesville, Virginia, Amy Franklin-Willis' soon-to-be-released novel The Lost Saints of Tennessee (Atlantic Monthly Press) is a story about running away from something...and running to something and even... someone. The main character of the story, a forty-two year old man named Ezekiel Cooper, is a man who is running from tragic loss of a brother and a marriage; a mother who betrayed her family and who is dying; and the pain and confusion of a life that has not turned out the way he, and others, had hoped it would.

Zeke, and his family's, story of loss, betrayal, pain, hope rekindled, unresolved conflict, and second chances is sketched out by Willis in a tight but very matter-of-fact first person narrative as the reader is walked, mainly by Zeke but also his dying mother, Lillian, through 40 years of family history and secrets through flashbacks. The result is a tale that will grab the reader's heart as s/he responds with both high regard for and profound frustration with Zeke and his choices. And along side the theme of running away; of pain; of deep grief; there is the theme of forgiveness - and the choice whether to forgive or not.

I find Franklin-Willis' characters to be human in all of their foibles and failings and yet also in their aspirations to break out of their (often) self imposed limits due to their adolescent choices, addictive habits, the cultural of deference to parental wishes (for the most part), and the debilitating effects of their secrets (and sins).
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jeanette TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When the word gets out, this book is going to find an enthusiastic following among fans of Southern domestic fiction. It follows the fortunes and misfortunes of the Cooper family from the 1940s through 1985. The 1985 sections are told in the present tense.

The story opens in 1985 with Zeke Cooper, age 42, leaving his Tennessee hometown with the intention of committing suicide. He blames himself for the death of his twin brother Carter 10 years ago, and for the subsequent divorce from his wife Jackie. Instead of killing himself, he finds a haven with relatives in Virginia. This gives him the distance he needs to reflect on his mistakes and get some perspective on his family and its history.

Zeke narrates the story, with a brief section mid-book giving his mother Lillian a chance to tell her story. The family has seen more than its share of tragedy, sometimes self-inflicted and sometimes just bad luck. Teen pregnancies, infidelities, financial setbacks, substance abuse, deaths, divorces, and disease have taken their toll over the years.

Through Zeke's eyes we see his lifelong devotion to Carter, his twin whose brain was damaged by a childhood illness. We also see Zeke's stubborn refusal to forgive his mother for something she did 25 years ago -- something many of us might have done in her situation. When she faces a health crisis, Zeke must decide if he has punished her long enough.

Amy Franklin-Willis has put her all into the crafting of her first novel. Her prose flows beautifully and never gets bogged down. She knows her characters and has carefully worked out the complexities in their relationships.

More dramatic tension and less predictability would have made this a stronger, more convincing story for me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marcia Sterling on March 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Amy Franklin-Willis has serious writing chops. The prose is tight and powerful. The story line is compelling. She evokes strong emotion without being sentimental. This is one of those classic stories of the South that will continue to gain recognition as people discover it. It's my favorite new book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
We have two major voices relating this story....42 year old Ezekiel still in mourning for his twin brother now dead for 10 years, as well as recovering from his recent divorce, and his mother, Lillian who's dying from lung cancer.

Given such depressing circumstances, the novel relates Ezekiel's climb through the positive promises of hope. The other characters and the effects of Ezekiel's actons are intimately portrayed, and this is one truly terrific and rewarding read.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By JJ VINE VOICE on February 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As I have said before, I love books set in the South. This author will definitely be added to my list of Southern authors to read. This is a story of an everyday family...a family of imperfections, secrets, deep love & forgiveness, especially the forgiveness of oneself. I loved the characters with all their imperfections. I felt sorry for Zeke and the pain and betrayal he felt from his mother's actions, but I also could somewhat understand his mother and what she was feeling at the time. At the center of this family is sweet, innocent Carter, the twin brother of Zeke. After a tragic accident involving Carter, Zeke seems to lose control of his life. He loses his wife and daughters and even considers suicide of himself and his beloved dog. I loved the way the author brings Zeke back from the depths of despair so that he can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. A very satisfying read & I look forward to more from this author.
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