Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mariano's Crossing by David M. Jessup: A Book Review

Last week I told you about Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch near Loveland, Colorado and what a great place it is for a writers' retreat.

Sylvan Dale is of special interest because one of the co-owners is David M. Jessup, a former winner of the Colorado Gold writing contest in the mainstream fiction category for his historical novel Mariano's Crossing. He is working on a second book involving Mariano Medina’s earlier life. Mariano's Crossing was also a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Contest and the Santa Fe Writers Project.

A history buff, David is also passionate about preserving open space, battling invasive weeds, catching wild river trout on a fly, singing cowboy songs, and telling stories about the American West—some of them true. His blog, Beef, Books and Boots, contains stories of ranch life, articles on sustainable grass-fed beef, and information about his and his wife, Linda’s, favorite books on the American West.

For more information about David and his novel, visit his website.


Mariano's Crossing
by David M. Jessup
Pronghorn Press (September, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1932636895
Paperback $22.95 E-book $5.99

Synopsis from author's website

"Mariano Medina, a former scout with Kit Carson, has become the richest man on Colorado’s Big Thompson River. But his success provokes resentment among the new settlers. To bolster respect for his family, Medina decides to send his daughter, Lena, to an expensive boarding school. But his Indian wife, Takansy, has other ideas. She wants Lena to pursue her skills with horses, her “spirit path.” As their conflict grows, young John Alexander, son of a domineering, hardscrabble sawmill owner, tries to persuade Lena to run away with him to start a new life. Their tug of war soon spirals out of control as secrets past and present propel them toward their final, haunting encounter."


David Jessup imagined a story surrounding a real-life event and the real people involved and turned it into an award-winning novel of historical fiction based in the Colorado country he calls home.

Mariano Medina and his family faced the hardship of 1860s western life during a time when religious and cultural prejudice prevented many folks from accepting Medina's family into the community. His financial success did not help his cause, creating even more trouble for a family already torn apart by an internal struggle for cultural dominance between the Catholic Medina and his Indian wife, Takansy, who refused to cut her ties to her tribe's spiritual teachings.

Medina and Takansy's daughter, Lena, is caught in the middle. Anxious to please her father as well as her mother, she is confused and conflicted by their very different dreams for her future. Her life becomes even more complicated when she is attracted to John Alexander, a young man who wants to drag her away from her family to live a much different life as a ranch wife and mother.

Told from multiple points of view and using both present and past tense to distinguish the present (around 1872) to the past (1862), Mariano's Crossing is a convincing historical treatment. It's hard to believe the story may not have unfolded exactly as told because each character has his own voice and is so believable the reader is convinced each one told his version to Jessup in person.

Mariano's Crossing is an excellent and fast read, especially for those who love Colorado history and enjoy the connection to real people and actual events.


Posted by Patricia Stoltey who read Mariano's Crossing when she took her deliciously quiet blogging/writing/social media break over the holidays. A signed copy of the book was purchased through the author's website.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - This sounds like a fascinating look at an important real-life conflict. I'm sure this isn't the only family that faced this kind of challenge. And I like historical fiction too... Thanks for sharing this with us.

lizy-expat-writer said...

The first settlers in america faced so many challenges! I have just re-read St Agnes' Stand when is an equally evocative tale.

Anonymous said...

So glad to learn about your book and blog. I'm on my way over to your blog now. Thanks for the introduction, Pat.

Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to meet David and learn about his historical fiction.

Anonymous said...

It's great to meet David and best wishes to him and Mariano's Crossing!

Dean K Miller said...

Yup...loved this book. David did an outstanding job with this book.

Kerrie said...

This is an amazing book. I was impressed with how he used four points of view and still kept the story moving along. I highly recommend the book.