Mrs. Saint and the Defectives Review
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After experiencing something traumatic, some people surround themselves with loved ones, while others prefer to close themselves off from the outside world. In Mrs. Saint and the Defectives by author Julie Lawson Timmer, one woman tries to escape the world while she licks her wounds, only to end up finding an unexpected new circle of loved ones.

The story follows newly divorced Markie as she walks away from the humiliation and pitying looks in her old neighborhood and moves with her teenage son, Jesse, into a rented bungalow in a new town. Markie wants nothing more than to close herself off while she heals from her ex-husband’s betrayal, but that’s not what she gets from her new neighbor, Mrs. Saint, an elderly Frenchwoman who immediately works her way into Markie’s personal business. But with the help of Mrs. Saint and the “Defectives” who help around her house, Markie and Jesse begin to settle into their new life.

Mrs. Saint and the Defectives tells a story of healing, helping, and finding your family where you least expect it.

The characters here can sometimes be absolutely exasperating—especially Mrs. Saint, who goes so far beyond the typical nosy neighbor. From the beginning, she forces her way into Markie’s life, assuming that she knows Markie’s needs better than she does. While she can be well-meaning and helpful—sending assistance when Markie and Jesse are struggling to move in by themselves and even buying them furniture—she can also be remarkably meddlesome and pushy. Anyone would be justified in sending her away—and while Markie often feels guilty about the things she says to her neighbor, readers will fully understand why she does what she does.

Of course, Markie isn’t without her faults, either. Through most of the novel, she actively wallows in her heartbreak, making a point of avoiding human interaction—even with her own son, since she assumes that he blames her for ruining his life.

Still, beneath these flawed characters and their tense relationship, there are layers upon layers of stories and secrets. As they come out, the pieces begin to come together, making the characters even more fascinating. Granted, the pieces don’t come together perfectly—and readers may find themselves wrestling with some questions in the end—but it’s all a part of the appeal of this charmingly maddening tale.

Mrs. Saint and the Defectives is a flawed story about a bunch of flawed characters. It’s the kind of story that will challenge you and frustrate you, yet you’ll still find yourself caught up in the lives of these conflicting yet strangely captivating neighbors.

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