Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crispin Guest Saved Me that Year

I don’t know what book I was reading when Ann and I decided to do a short sale on our house, but I know I started Jeri Westerson’s Blood Lance soon after. I was told that Jeri was a good reader, and I was thinking about having her out to read at the college where I teach.

It was a difficult time. I had a good job, and I had bought the absolute cheapest house in my part of Los Angeles, but I hadn’t gotten the cost of living pay increases that had been standard, and the repairs on the house had been tens of thousands of dollars more than I’d been told they would be. After years of trying to keep up, it made sense finally to do a short sale on my house, a process that’s just one step up on a foreclosure. I’d give up my house and ruin what had been a near perfect credit rating. It destroyed my sense of self and my ideas about ownership and security.

Plus, it just kind of sucked.

That’s when I started to read Jeri Westerson’s medieval noir series, which follows Crispin Guest, a fallen knight turned tracker -- what we would think of a private detective.

I love period pieces. I love mystery novels. I loved this series. And I’d finished all the Cadfael novels years earlier. I found myself preferring Guest to Cadfael. Why? He was exactly what I needed when I needed it.

That he had lost his property and his home was lost to me at the time, but that had to have something to do with it. But despite his setbacks, he was brave and good. The writing was clean and direct and the good guy kept doing good things.

The Crispin Guest novels are all powerful and fun. I lost myself in their stories which moved quickly and Guest is always on the edge or dying or losing, but he pulls himself out in the last minutes. They are absolutely brilliant and all consuming.

And that’s what I needed then, to be consumed by something other than the fact that I was losing what I’d worked so hard to keep. And Guest helped to remind me that property and things aren’t the most important parts of my life. If, like him, I could keep my important friendships and my honor, if I could help other people out when I could, that was all right. That was enough.

They were written well, and they hit me just exactly when I needed them to hit me.

That was more than enough.

By the way, Westerson has a new novel out, just out. Check it out on Amazon!


Augie said...

This piece was fantastically written and hopeful. augie

lil Gluckstern said...

Good luck, and I hope you remember you are more than what happens to you. That's helped me. And I agree totally with you about Jeri Westerson's books. She takes us out of the present into the events, smells, and sounds of the 14th Century.With a very attractive hero.

Liane Spicer said...

I haven't read this author, but I know exactly what you mean. Several times when life gave me a good kick, I stumbled across exactly the right book or music to help with the healing.

John Brantingham said...

The right book at the right time is everything!

Eileen Obser said...

What an inspiring blog, John. I agree -- the right book or music or film at the right time can make all the difference.

William Doonan said...

I've never heard of these books. Thanks! Must give them a shot.

Jewel Amethyst said...

sometimes inspiration comes in strange places