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Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne

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Holding on to Nothing is a novel about a couple who don’t have a heck of a lot, in terms of material goods, to hold on to. Lucy Kilgore hoped to leave her home town in East Tennessee right after high school, but when she got pregnant with the baby of Jeptha Taylor, who always wanted to stay, that option evaporated. "Shelburne's stunning debut novel is a long trip into small-town Tennessee. . .riveting, touching, heart-wrenching, tragic, and beautiful." ―Booklist. "Holding On To Nothing is a resonant song of the South, all whiskey, bluegrass, Dolly Parton, tobacco fields, and women who know better but still fall for the lowdown men whom they know will disappoint them. Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne writes with extraordinary love and compassion of the lives of her flawed characters; she shines a clear, calm light on their tragedies, their joys, and their hard-won redemptions." ―Lauren Groff. "Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne writes with a chafe and charm that makes you give a damn about these flawed characters, Lucy and Jeptha, makes you root for them when what little they have is at risk. This novel has all the makings of a true ballad―heartache and dead ends, booze and bad decisions, double-crossing relatives, a hand-me-down mandolin, and a loyal dog named Crystal Gayle. It also has a deep humming heart that knows sorrow. Like Lucy’s beloved Dolly Parton, Holding On To Nothing is not just country, it’s mountain. Shelburne is a literary force to be reckoned with." ―Susan Bernhard. The author,  Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne, grew up in East Tennessee, graduated from Amherst College and then went to work for The Atlantic Monthly. She started writing this book before she had any children, and now she and her husband have four. They live outside Boston.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Blair/Carolina Wren Press, 2019. 272 pages. Hardback in dust jacket