To be published
24 April 2014
My thanks to Real Readers and Oldcastle Books for my advance reading copy of this book.
Last Bus to Coffeeville is a road story with a difference and with a group of characters who step right out of every dysfunctional self help guide that you have ever read. Eugene Chaney III is a seventy-two year old retired doctor, living a quiet existence, alone with his thoughts and drowning in a sea of what might have been. When he is contacted by his lost love, and reminded of the promise he once made to her, ostensibly to end her life should that life become unbearable, all it takes is just one phone call and the whole vista of his life changes once and for all. For you see, Nancy Skidmore has Alzheimer’s and she has no wish to see her life degenerate into insensibility and counts on Eugene to take her to Coffeeville, where she hopes he will help her to end her life.
This is an interesting debut novel, which has a strong beginning and a poignant ending, however, for me, the story lost some of its focus somewhere in the middle and became a bit untidy. There is no doubt that the author’s unshakable love for all things American shines through; however, because the pace of the story is so frenetic, there are times when it almost feels like he needed to throw absolutely everything he knew about America into each little piece of the narrative. As the book progressed, I was constantly reminded of the 1967 song by The Monkees - ‘The Last Train to Clarkesville’ and couldn’t for a time get this chirpy melody out of my head, although somehow it seemed to sit well with the concept of the book.
The ride to Coffeeville is filled with colourful characters, some Eugene and Nancy meet on their journey whilst others are old friends but together they form the basis of a rich and varied story about the power of love, the true value of friendship and the notion that family are not always those born closest to us.
About the Author
J PAUL HENDERSON was born and grew up in Bradford, West Yorkshire, gained a Master's degree in American Studies and travelled to Afghanistan. He worked in a foundry, as a bus conductor, trained as an accountant and then, when the opportunity to return to academia arose, left for Mississippi, returning four years later with a doctorate in 20thC US History. He currently lives in England.
Last Bus to Coffeeville is his debut novel.