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Coiled in the Heart Hardcover – July 28, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Tobias Caldwell lives in a world balanced by the scales of grandeur and decay. The southern plantation he calls home has been the pride of the Caldwells since their settling there in the nineteenth century. As a boy, Tobias knew every crevice of the landscape, but he favored the creek to be his very own. By the time Tobias reached the age of seven, his father had begun to parcel off the land to new housing subdivisions, and the magical creek no longer belonged to Tobias alone. Soon they had neighbors, and Tobias was dispatched to meet a boy who was just his age. What Tobias encountered was an unruly, mean-spirited boy named Ben Wilson and his twin sister, Merritt. Ben's relentless cruelty brings malice into Tobias' good-natured heart, and he leads Ben to the creek, where the tree roots snarl and the cottonmouth snake coils itself for camouflage. Elliot's debut builds a magnetic love story between Tobias and Merritt that is heady with yearning and laden with guilt for the truths left untold. Elsa Gaztambide
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Coiled in the Heart is a big, sprawling ambitious debut. -- Helen Schulman, author of P.S.

Elliot's voice is his own, and with any luck it will speak to us many times in the years to come. -- Steve Yarbrough, author of The Oxygen Man and Visible Spirits

Scott Elliott is a strong new talent. His novel Coiled in the Heart is vital and vivid. -- Elizabeth Spencer

Scott Elliott's Coiled in the Heart is far too wonderful and self-assured to be a first novel. -- Pat Conroy

This is an auspicious fiction debut. -- Robert Phillips

…while remaining wholly original, Coiled in the Heart marks the emergence of a very real and durable talent. -- Michael Knight, author of Goodnight, Nobody

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons (July 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399150382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399150388
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,868,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By W. Garner Traher Jr. on October 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I knew nothing about this book until I saw it featured in a book review of our Sunday newspaper. I am very glad that I purchased and read this book.
This new author has not published some "spy or mystery" novel as so many other authors need to do; rather, he has purlished a wonderful book about conflicts of people, young and old, parents and children, children and children, and man and woman. His descriptons of the places and characters of his book are detailed and wonderful and keep the reader in "visual" contact with the story. The emotions of the characters and the subtle twists of fate are very believable by the reader.
This is a wonderful read. It is a great change from the standard and mostly predictable books that are now being published and affords the reader with an enjoyable story and time spent with the characters.
It is unfortunate that this novel is a first time book by an unknown author. If it was published by a more famous author it would receive the attention it deserves. I just hope that Mr. Elliott does not attempt to revert to standard story lines in his next book, one that I will be anticipating.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you pick Coiled off your bookshelf in a few years you won't have forgotten what happened, what it felt like, what was resolved or unresolved. The cover had me worried that the story would be unpleasant or sinister, but it's not like that. Just normal humans—none of them entirely admirable or entirely unworthy—in a story that winds through the years with a pent-up energy seemingly always on the brink of release.

In particular, I have not found such quality inner monologue except in some of the very best authors I can think of. Here it is ambitious and almost entirely successful, giving permission to empathize with the unvoiced thoughts of all our lives and carefully unfolding true insights that are not pat or clichéd, though they are sometimes as youthful as the characters.
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By A Customer on April 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Coiled in the Heart" sweeps the reader along with its melancholy nostalgia -- the Big E's lyrical passages are worth revisiting again and again. Elliott builds his wonderfully poignant story of loss and penance to an ending that is both hopeful yet enigmatic; we hope for the best for our hero, yet we can't help fearing the worst.
Told in a series of flashbacks from the present day to events in the distant and not-too-distant past, Tobia's story is one of struggling to overcome several obstacles -- the weight of family history, the adoration lavished on a sports hero who doesn't feel the same love for the game, the hurdle of his own potential, and, worst of all, the crushing guilt of a dirty trick gone horribly, horribly wrong. At times almost paralyzed by fear and self-doubt, Tobia seeks for his true calling and is always asking the deep question -- is this what I am meant to do? Fortunately for the reader, Tobia is suffuciently opaque that what often appears to be the easy answer just isn't enough.
"Coiled in the Heart" would have received five stars, but Elliott made two of his less-than-admirable characters, the Goodhopes, Carolina and Duke grads, and as any Southerner knows, some things are just unforgiveable.
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By A Customer on November 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Elliott's characters are rich with emotion and detail without being overwrought. Not only is this an entertaining read, but it has something important to say about being human. A must read!
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