A Soldier Surrenders, by Susan Peek

 cover sample 8 (2)   Susan Peek has introduced another of her friends in high places. Camillus de Lellis lived in the sixteenth century, a time of saints and turmoil. Nonetheless, his life and example relate especially well to our times. His résumé included life as a soldier, a veteran, a wounded warrior, a gambler, a drunk, a homeless person, a nurse/orderly, a hospital administrator, a founder of a religious order, and ultimately a saint.   With his father, a fellow mercenary, he chased armies, joined battles and spent his free time carousing and card-sharking. De Lellis sold his loyalty to the highest bidder, so his motivations weren’t always the most noble. After battles, he gambled and drank away his wages leaving him hungry, homeless, and reliant on his luck at cards.   A giant of a man, Camillus could have inspired today’s movie makers with his battlefield heroics. However, the real Camillus de Lellis stood in stark contrast to the current trends in action movies that present warriors as graceful, powerful, lethal, and photogenic, even after an hour of cinematic mayhem. The author provided a more honest representation of sword, musket, and hand-to-hand combat and its blood-splattered, weary and wretched participants.   Piety came later in the life of Camillus de Lellis and only after a series of false starts. Although he healed from his battle wounds, a mysterious and painful leg ailment dogged and humiliated him. It also disqualified Camillus from vocations that seemed well suited to his spiritual development. His temper and arrogance cost him jobs and sent him back into destructive behavior. Like the biblical Balaam, de Lellis finally saw the light with the help of an equine companion.   Susan Peek has written A Soldier Surrenders with love. She engages her audiences with the depiction of a man who shared many of our weaknesses, yet, despite his limitations, handicaps and bad choices, his example still encourages us to persevere in our pursuit of our calling to holiness. A Soldier Surrenders would serve as a sympathetic companion for us all, especially for those with lives shattered by war, chronic pain, homelessness, unemployment, or chemical dependency.

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Dust Angel, by Jutta Profijt

Krakow-11

Jutta Profijt steps out of her Morgue Draw mode to follow Dusseldorf resident, and account manager Corinna Leyendecker, age thirty-one, as her world collapses about her. Deemed redundant by her advertising agency employer, Corinna successively loses her boyfriend, apartment and social network. Forced aboard the numbing treadmill of job interviews, she discovered an entrepreneurial niche waiting to be filled.

Corinna’s apparent desolation and isolation, as many of the newly unemployed may realize, had freed her of the unrealized oppression of her job, relationship and her self-depreciating attitude. She sought solace, but not refuge in her family. With their support she launched her new career.

The only being to follow Corinna from her previous place of employment was a bright-red haired Troll, one of the “creatives” in the advertising world. She was particularly savvy in campaign strategy and technology. For reasons not immediately apparent, she educates Corinna and directs her through a successful launch of her business. Troll is anything but conventional. Corinna endures several embarrassing situations, but finds that Troll can be trusted, well sort of. If Troll’s “unique” approach to the launch didn’t provide sufficient embarrassment, the author took a few pages from her Morgue Draw sketch book to send Corinna into a major panic.

Jutta Profijt created sympathetic characters and true to form reveals her dedication to detail as she weaves her story through the local geography, social-services system, and business particulars. The author shows how those who seem to lose everything can go back to their roots and regrown new stems. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for any new translations of Jutta Profijt’s work.