Friday, December 21, 2018

Stuck in Manistique -- Dennis Cuesta

Celestial Eyes Press
Perfect 10
ISBN: 978-1-7324-1090-9
November 2018
General Fiction

Manistique, Michigan – The Present

Mark (last name never revealed), who lives in Chicago and is a financial advisor, learns his Aunt Vivian has died and left him her estate, a Victorian house in Manistique, Michigan, a small community in the Upper Peninsula near Lake Michigan. His aunt, Dr. Vivian Peregrine, had been a humanitarian doctor who served in the world’s troubled areas for most of her life. He can only remember meeting her once and losing touch with her years ago, but couldn’t locate her. After talking to his aunt’s lawyer in Petoskey, Michigan, he travels to the UP. The problem is he has gephyrophobia or fear of bridges, and the five-mile-long Mackinac (pronounced Mack-in-awe) Bridge lies between him and Manistique. Luckily, the bridge personnel are prepared for such occasions and have assistance drivers to help people across the bridge. On his first night in his aunt’s house, which he plans to sell, a woman knocks on the door and asks for a room for the night. It seems his Aunt Vivian operated a B&B.

Dr. Emily Davis was driving north, on her way to Mackinac Island to meet her mentor, another doctor who is married, for a romantic commitment. Suffering doubts, she goes to the Upper Peninsula to catch the ferry to the island, but ultimately takes U.S. Highway 2 west and away from her temptation. Near Manistique a deer leaps into the car’s windshield, smashing it to bits. The repair will take at least one day and all the local hotels and motels are filled with an elderly group on a casino tour of the UP. One motel owner gives her the name of the Manistique Victorian, a local B&B.

Mark’s generosity to Emily soon expands to other unexpected guests. From that point unanticipated events continually take place. The newly acquainted characters share quippy talk and camaraderie, which leads to confidences laced with allusions. Trouble abounds. While the story is overall humorous in tone, serious matters underlie the content. The story revolves around personal loss, secrets revealing extraordinary truths, local mysticism, friendship, incipient romance, and family relationships. Yes, it earns a Perfect 10, but mostly for those who enjoy quirky people and crazy, surprising events, and because I learned some interesting things about my home state.

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