Turner Publishing Company|October 18, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-61858-013-9
Myrtle T. Cribb, a special-needs teacher from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, is captive in a dysfunctional marriage. Tired of living up to her husband’s and everyone else’s standards, Myrtle impulsively heads to wherever the road will take her. But soon she gets a surprise of her own. She finds an unlikely stowaway on her journey: Hellcat, the local drunk. Together, they embark on a pilgrimage that takes them everywhere from a shady highway motel to a hippie retreat center, developing an unlikely friendship while finding wisdom in the most unlikely places. The journey forces Myrtle to evaluate her marriage, her priorities, and her own prejudices, and compels her to share her hard-earned insights with other women who feel some dissatisfaction in their lives.
With its iconoclastic, complex, and irresistible cast of characters, and bold yet sincere advice, The Homespun Wisdom of Myrtle T. Cribb is an engaging, heartbreaking, and joyful story to be cherished by those seeking an understanding of life’s greatest mysteries.
Myrtle T. Cribb is a special-needs teacher who starts out one morning in her Dodge truck for a procedure at the doctor’s office. Due to nerves and a fear that the male doctor wouldn’t prescribe her with proper pain medication following the surgery, she takes a handful of her husband, Craig’s pain pills with her. She takes one pill and begins driving but being it’s a 2-hour drive she decides to take a second pill when she stops for gas. After many miles, Myrtle hears a knocking under her truck and can’t figure out what it is. But the knocking became more insistent, and then seemed to be coming from behind her. When she turned around to look, she got the bejeebers scared right out of her. For there, in the back of her Dodge pick-up was, Hellcat – stowed away, pounding at the camper top glass with both fists, staring at her with his bugged-out, bloodshot eyes. So startled was she, that she ran off the road, swerved into a shallow ditch and bumped out the other side. Hellcat had passed out drunk with a sleeping bag and 45 empty cans of beer. Myrtle was again so startled, she took a 3rd pill.
Hellcat was the town vagrant. A tall lanky, black man with filthy clothes, and a limp, he dragged himself everywhere he went. He was forever bothering people to rake their leaves or fix a lamp for 5 bucks so he could buy another bottle of liquor. He slept wherever he could find space – abandoned buildings, construction sites or obviously in the back of Myrtle’s truck. What was she going to do now? Craig had absolutely forbidden her from having anything to do with him? Hellcat had fallen back to sleep and was snoring so, Myrtle just kept on driving, what other choice did she have so far from home? Besides, Craig was a cranky, tyrant of a man and she was fed up listening to him and being ordered around like she didn’t have a mind of her own so just kept on driving.
She was so busy driving and thinking that she’d run the gas tank empty, filled it up, and ran it down again, and due to the 3 pain pills she’d already consumed where she went and what she did beyond that was almost entirely absent from her memory. She couldn’t even pay attention to highway signs she was so busy mulling over her marriage to Craig and what his reaction would be when he found out she’d just up and disappeared.
Now having crossed state lines and driving somewhere in Pennsylvania, Myrtle checks into a hotel for the night wondering what she was going to do. Craig was going to kill her that’s for sure if he finds out she spent the night in a hotel room with Hellcat. Well, by morning things would look brighter and she’d figure it out then. She called home and left a message on the answering machine saying she had to leave in a hurry due to a family emergency and went to sleep at dawn.
The adventure Myrtle and Hellcat undertake will have you laughing and shaking your head. Sheri Reynolds always pens a good novel but she’s outdone herself with The Homespun Wisdom of Myrtle T. Cribb. I guess what you could say about this novel is that Myrtle T. Cribb has taken an “accidental pilgrimage” and what a pilgrimage it was. Great story!