The Muir House, Mary DeMuth, Zondervan, pages 322
Mary DeMuth’s latest book, The Muir House, continues her legacy of delivering strong, contemporary drama. The story enfolds as Hale Landon’s marriage proposal creates a unique intersection of where Willa Muir faces an invitation to return to an unsettled past, a burning present (literally) and the potential of a wonderful future and home. Before Willa can confidently step into Hale’s proposal, she must face the unresolved secrets of her past. She hopes to find keys to unlock her heart in her childhood home, The Muir House in Rockwell, Texas.
Muir House was a Funeral Home when Willa was growing up. Her bedroom was next door to the embalming room, a circumstance which by itself should justify years of therapy. With her father dead and her mother in a nursing facility, the family caretaker, Genie Skye, is turning the house into a bed and breakfast. Mrs. Skye has asked Willa, who is an interior decorator, to return to Rockwell and assist with repurposing the house.
Back in Rockwell and Muir House, everywhere Willa turns she finds clues to all the questions she has; clues which both entice and terrorize her. All of her questions dissolve into this challenge: will she be strong enough to follow the clues and accept the answers?
Hale Landers faces his own dilemma when Willa doesn’t immediately accept his marriage proposal. His offer to provide Willa a loving home, forces Willa to seek what home and family means to her. While Willa journeys to Rockwell, he finds his own mission in New Orleans while he waits and wonders what the future holds.
Regional fiction is not something we are used to in North Texas. It adds a layer of reality, which can be disturbing if the subject matter is difficult. It is so much easier to think, thank goodness that kind of thing doesn’t happen here. Regional fiction should be a delight to read. I appreciate this was located near my home turf. I hope we see more fiction located in North Texas.
The haunting power of Mary DeMuth’s fiction, for me, comes in the layering of the tale to be more than Willa’s story. Her tentacles of faith and relationships reach past Willa’s circumstances and encircle my heart, bringing me to walk beside Willa asking my own questions. We all have remembered places where we heard and saw words and things adults did and said. We understood the words, but it was their unspoken intentions that still haunts us.
If you are looking for a happy, feel good story, this is not the book for you. But, if you are ready to read a story of a woman’s search for meaning and security, you’ve found a home.
While I did receive a free copy of the book from Zondervan and the author in exchanged for a review, I had already pre-ordered the book in eager anticipation of another DeMuth book.