In Defiance, Texas, Ouisie Pepper seeks a perfect world. She's the pastor's wife. How could she be defiant? And yet, she defies her husband and the hunters of Daisy Chance's killer, keeping secrets that could change the lives of all the people around her. Ouisie knows the pastor is not the all powerful, all knowing, all kind and generous leader he's believed to be. She knows Daisy's killer still lurks close by. She knows her son and daughter deserve a better life. And she knows she shouldn't drink. But sometimes the drinking is all that seems to hold her together.
Ouisie Pepper sets out to improve her marriage with the aid of a sweetly religious self-help book. And the author, Mary E DeMuth, brings Ouisie, self-help author Sheba Nelson, bereaved mother Emory Chance, and a host of other characters to vivid life, all through Ouisie's lonely clouded eyes.
I read A Slow Burn, second in Mary DeMuth's Defiance Texas Trilogy, last year and really enjoyed it. There I saw through Emory's eyes as she tried to piece together a life that was already fractured before her child was lost. There I met Ouisie, the discerning, oddly non-judgemental friend, with fascinating character flaws that I longed to learn more of. In Life in Defiance I finally get to know her well.
Ouisie wears her wounds well hidden, not just the wounds of a marriage that offers no safety, but those of a childhood too whose insecurities have molded her. Even when her husband doesn't rage, the voice in her head still reminds her that she's not perfect, not good enough. She walks round the lake drinking its peace while fearing to drown, and she can't let go of the need to help herself as she struggles constantly to help others.
It's not hard to empathize with Ouisie. Balancing love and duty, clinging helplessly to the hope that people change, meeting each challenge head-on and always standing right back up again, she tries so hard to control her world while she watches it spin on its heel.
The author has a deft hand with conversation, creating meetings where the reader feels so involved you almost want to speak your piece. She treats the presence of the divine with convincing realism too, never resorting to unbelievable "voices" but retaining the constant presence of another Voice in Ouisie's mind. And she ties the threads of a complex tale through the lives of complex people, leading to a surprising and genuinely plausible, sorrowful conclusion.
I've still not read Daisy Chain, the first in the series. But it's on order at the bookstore and I'll read it soon. This series is one where you can genuinely start reading wherever you choose. But I'm sure you'll grow to love the characters and long to know more, just as I have. In the process, perhaps you'll learn more of yourself as well, and find healing for your own wounds or wisdom for your neighbors'.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on Life in Defiance (Defiance, Texas Trilog...?