The World of Dovey Coe

Dovey Coe says what’s on her mind, so it’s no secret that she can’t stand Parnell Caraway. Parnell may be the son of the richest man in town, but he’s mean and snobby, and Dovey can’t stand the fact that he’s courting her sister, Caroline, or the way he treats her brother, Amos, as if he were stupid just because he can’t hear.

So when Parnell turns up dead, and Dovey’s in the room where his body is discovered, she soon finds herself on trial for murder. Can the outspoken Dovey sit still and trust a city slicker lawyer who’s still wet behind the ears to get her out of the biggest mess of her life?


Awards Won by Dovey Coe by Frances O'Roark Dowell

“A delightful book, thoughtful and full of substance.” (Booklist)

“The story maintains a very fast pace, and Dovey is an original character who speaks with a mountain twang that brings the vivid setting to life without distracting from the plot. The back ground and characters are carefully developed and appealing.” (School Library Journal — Starred Review)

“First-time novelist Dowell succeeds in capturing the essence of a young and unforgettable independent thinker, who uses honesty and common sense as her weapons against injustice. This is an author well worth watching.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Dovey’s fresh, clear voice in southern dialect cuts through the social behavior of the locale and time period to speak the truth, which all of the older and wiser characters refuse to see. This fabulous, feisty heroine will win your heart.” (Kirkus Reviews)


“I wanted to write a book set in the mountains of North Carolina, way back in the day, because I love everything about the mountains — the music, the folklore, and the arts and crafts. I started with a vague idea of writing a story about a girl and her brother, and then one day this voice came into my head and said,”

“My name is Dovey Coe, and I reckon it don’t matter if you like me or not.”

The rest is history.

–Frances O’Roark Dowell


Dovey Coe’s Edgar Award

The Edgar Award is a prestigious trophy annually given by The Mystery Writers of America to some of the best mystery stories published that year, named after famed author Edgar Allen Poe. Dovey Coe won the award in 2001, the same year as its publication, for being the best mystery novel written for young readers that year.


William Allen White, the namesake for the award.
William Allen White, the namesake for the award.

Dovey Coe was also honored with the William Allen White Children’s Book Award in 2003, as the best book for readers in Grades 6-8. This award is a Kansas based award given to books recommended for Kansas students, named after William Allen White, a politician who ran and edited the Emporia Gazette, a local newspaper that won him national renown in Progressive circles, and led to him being viewed as a spokesperson for Middle America.


Dovey Coe's Original Cover
Dovey Coe’s Original Cover
Dovey Coe's Redesigned Cover
Dovey Coe’s Redesigned Cover












The original cover of Dovey Coe comes from a picture taken by Walker Evans as part of a Farm Securities Administration program to document the lives of the rural workers living during the Great Depression. The FSA was one of the many programs implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in an attempt to address the sweeping devastation caused by the Depression. This photo, and others like it, served to create an image in the public mind of these workers, humanizing them. Frances/the publishers chose this photo because [find out]. While the name of the girl in the photo has been lost to history, this photo has found new life as the cover of Dovey Coe. In 2013, Dovey Coe, as well as two other novels by Frances Dowell, Chicken Boy and Where I’d Like to Be, were republished in hardback with new, modern covers.

Some of Dovey Coe’s International Covers

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