Cover image for True hope
True hope
Manley, Frank.
Personal Author:
First Carroll and Graf edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2002.
Physical Description:
274 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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In True Hope Frank Manley eloquently limns the mysteries of the soul with the story of a man named Al, whose life has been defined by marriage, drunkenness, and prison--in that order. When he is released from prison for good behavior, sobered up and in search of salvation, he does a short stint in a halfway house, then heads for the small town in Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains where Tom, his father-in-law, lives. Tom is an odd duck, with pyromaniacal tendencies, but he's the only thing Al has left of Kate, his beloved wife, whose death haunts him still. Tom and Al are a hapless pair, and they proceed to get themselves in a whole lot of trouble together. All the while, Al is courting Laurie, whose soul is as lost as his. They find solace in each other's company and make plans for the future. When these plans go disastrously awry, Al experiences a spiritual epiphany that changes his life. True Hope is a story of gut-wrenching brutality and wholehearted compassion, told tenderly, with humor, in powerful, unadorned prose.

Author Notes

He was raised in Atlanta & educated at Emory University & Johns Hopkins University. He taught at Yale before returning to Emory, where he is the Charles Howard Candler Professor Renaissance Literature. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships & has published books on John Donne & St. Thomas More.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The gifted Manley (The Cockfighter) once again exhibits his formidable ability to evoke the lives of the down-and-out in the Deep South. After spending two years in a Georgia prison for assault and battery, Al Cantrell is a free man again, taking up residency in the Bubba Jones House of Hope. Obsessing over his dead wife and struggling to stay sober in AA, he saves enough money to buy a beat-up car and moves in with Tom, his wife's father. A septuagenarian veteran of the Korean War, Tom is employed as a gofer for Benny, a shady county commissioner. Al is hired to paint houses for Benny and is eventually sent to help Tom evict an itinerant couple renting one of the properties, but Tom goes berserk and torches the house, so Benny gives Al the responsibility of keeping the older man in line. With Annie Laurie a woman who has turned to prostitution while trying to regain her infant daughter from the custody of her former in-laws Al finally begins to find solace from his obsessive grief for his dead wife. But everything goes awry when she and Al concoct an ill-fated scheme to rescue Annie Laurie's baby and head for Arizona. Al's narration, infused with plenty of wry humor and sadly lyrical beauty, provides much-needed relief from the strange and bleak events he describes. (May) Forecast: The Cockfighter was a 1998 best book selection by both the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, which should assure that Manley's latest gets ample review attention. Regional sales will be strongest, but Manley is gradually building up a national reputation. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Set in Georgia in the early 1970s, this low-key novel focuses on Al Cantrell, an ex-convict preoccupied with his late wife, Kate. Just out of jail, he moves in with Tom, Kate's father and a Korean War veteran, whom Al regards as a tangible link to her memory. Al and Tom are hired by the county commissioner and veritable emperor of their rural Georgia county to take care of unpleasant tasks, such as running off "undesirables" be they migrant workers or the local newspaper editor. Meanwhile, Al has taken up with Laurie, a prostitute who has lost custody of her young daughter and is determined to get her back by any means. After a job goes fatally awry, Al leaves town with Laurie in the hopes of starting a new life, but she quickly derails his plans. Manley (The Cockfighter) extracts a spiritual theme from this rather humble material, crafting a tough and tender tale of a man who loses everything important to him only to regain himself in the end. For public libraries. Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.