Saturday, 1 July 2017

Mrs Saint and the Defectives

Author: Julie Lawson Timmer
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: e-book
Source: Publicist via NetGalley
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
First Published: August 1, 2017
First Line: "It was only when Markie saw her husband's hands clasped around another woman's breasts that she finally acknowledged their problems weren't ones she could hide any longer."

Book Description from GoodReadsMarkie, a fortysomething divorcée who has suffered a humiliating and very public fall from marital, financial, and professional grace, moves, along with her teenage son, Jesse, to a new town, hoping to lick her wounds in private. But Markie and Jesse are unable to escape the attention of their new neighbor Mrs. Saint, an irascible, elderly New European woman who takes it upon herself, along with her ragtag group of “defectives,” to identify and fix the flaws in those around her, whether they want her to or not.

What Markie doesn’t realize is that Mrs. Saint has big plans for the divorcée’s broken spirit. Soon, the quirky yet endearing woman recruits Markie to join her eccentric community, a world where both hidden truths and hope unite them. But when Mrs. Saint’s own secrets threaten to unravel their fragile web of healing, it’s up to Markie to mend these wounds and usher in a new era for the “defectives”—one full of second chances and happiness.

Rating: 5 stars

My Review: Readers will be drawn to this book initially by its eye-catching cover but what will keep them reading is Lawson Timmer's heart-felt vision of family, second chances and redemption.

After a failed marriage and the public humiliation that accompanied it, Markie moves herself and her teenage son to a new town to start over. Her goal? To blend into the background, keep her head down and make some money.  

But she didn't anticipate Mrs. Saint.

Mrs. Saint is a force to be reckoned with. She's an elderly whirling dervish of good intentions but how she puts those intentions into practice aren't for the faint of heart. Resistance is futile. Sure, she can be abrasive, she's a know-it-all and pushy but she's the grand dame of the neighbourhood who has her hand in everyone's lives for various reasons. She is drawn to help (whether they want it or not) the lost, the lonely and those who need someone in their corner.

I went into this book knowing I'd get a story that centered around family because that's what Lawson Timmer writes best. Not necessarily the traditional family unit because family isn't always born. Sometimes family emerges from the people we choose as family - friends, neighbours etc. The cast is made up of a melange of lost souls that Mrs. Saint has pulled into her small universe for different reasons. They are a diverse bunch and their interactions are sometimes quirky and humorous as well as poignant and touching.

Markie was slow to warm to Mrs. Saint (and outright hated her at times) and I was slow to warm to Markie. Some of her reactions felt over-the-top but even when I didn't agree with her behaviour there was always an inkling of her that I liked. The more she came to understand herself the more I could get behind her as a protagonist.

This book hits many of the 'great read' check marks. It's got an interesting premise, two important themes (family and the strength one gains from helping others) and is filled with heart, a bit of humour and even an intriguing mystery. What more could you ask for?

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Lake Union Publishing for providing me with an e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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