Monday, June 7, 2010

Battered Wife

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Life in Defiance
By Mary DeMuth

I’ve read two of the three books in the Defiance Texas Trilogy. My only regret is that I haven’t read all three. Life in Defiance is the third and it is Ouisie Pepper’s heart wrenching story of abuse. Her husband is controlling, angry and violent. He’s also the pastor of the church. As Ouisie tells her story, the two themes of her life emerge – she loves beauty and she believes she is inadequate. She blames all of her suffering on her inadequacy, but finds occasional release in the beauty of nature.

Ouisie’s story takes place in the months after the murder of Daisy Chance, her teenage son’s best friend. She knows something about the murder, but refuses to tell anyone, even Daisy’s mother who is her best friend. But, although the murder is a dominant story line, this book is about Ouisie. Other characters from previous books are important, but her life is dominated by her husband.

I think this must be one of the best treatments in fiction of this awful violence. I’ve always wondered why a battered woman doesn’t just leave. Ouisie is afraid for her children and doesn’t know how she could provide for them, but she also believes she provokes her husband’s anger, and she remembers when he was loving toward her. She tries to be a better wife so she can save her marriage and give her children a safe and loving home. She receives bad counsel about being a Christian wife that only makes her situation worse. But through it all, she sees evidence of God’s love and He uses unexpected people to guide her.

Defiance is a small town in Texas where all the people are somewhat crazy. This is one of the things about DeMuth’s books that intrigues me. She opens a window into the depths of people who are in extreme pain and then brings some very strange people into their lives. Their healing does not follow the expected pattern, but God is present and His love runs through the books. Even Ouisie, in the depths of her pain, hears His voice.

I highly recommend Life in Defiance, and if you haven’t read Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn, read them too.

Pros: Agonizing and honest story of a battered wife and her victory over suffering. It’s very well told and has fascinating themes, sub-plots and characters.

Cons: This is a very difficult subject and you will find yourself experiencing many complex emotions.

About the book

In a town she personifies, Ouisie Pepper wrestles with her own defiance. Desperate to become the wife and mother her husband Hap demands, Ouisie pours over a simple book about womanhood, constantly falling short, but determined to improve.

Through all that self-improvement, Ouisie carries a terrible secret: she knows who killed Daisy Chance. As her children inch closer to uncovering the killer’s identity and Hap’s rages roar louder and become increasingly violent, Ouisie has to make a decision. Will she protect her children by telling her secret? Or will Hap’s violence silence them all?

Set on the backdrop of Defiance, Texas, Ouisie’s journey typifies the choices we all face—whether to tell the truth about secrets and fight for the truth or bury them forever and live with the violent consequences.

About the author

Author and speaker Mary DeMuth helps people turn their trials to triumph. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God; Building the Christian Family You Never Had; Watching the Tree Limbs; Wishing on Dandelions; Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture and the first two books in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy: Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn.
National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, Point of View and U.S.A. Radio Network and is frequently featured on Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint. She has published articles in In Touch, HomeLife, Writer’s Digest and The Writer.
Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas.

Learn more about Mary at

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1 comment:

Mary DeMuth said...

Thank you so much for reading the book and offering a sensitive and well written review! I appreciate it.