Welcome to Mitford, North Carolina where the hills are green, the air is clean and the people are downright neighborly. This is the home of Father Tim, a late-middle-aged bachelor Episcopal priest who is somewhat unsatisfied with himself and his calling. In his search for a more meaningful life, Father Tim is about to get more than he ever bargained for – a new dog, a new neighbor and lots of new challenges – all of which will make Father Tim’s life better and richer than he could possibly have imagined.
Bubby: I have loved the Mitford books since they first came out, back in 1996. They are ALWAYS clean, uplifting and entertaining – rare qualities in books these days. I love the characters – they are well drawn and really feel like friends right from the beginning.
Sissy: I too have enjoyed Jan Karon’s Father Tim series, although I could only read two in a row and then I would have to give myself a break and then come back and read more. Mitford sounds like an idyllic town but having lived in small towns myself, I know that there are downsides as well. Father Tim has to deal with everybody knowing everybody’s business and everybody wanting to know his – especially all the middle-aged single women. I do love Father Tim.
Bubby: You know, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read this book but the characters have stuck with me the whole time. First there is Emma Garrett, Father Tim’s nosy but loving secretary. I’d love to meet this woman. She sounds like an Episcopalian version of my dearly departed Aunt Hermoine. Loud, sassy, brassy and fabulous! Then there is the new neighbor, Cynthia. Oh how Father Tim wants to dislike this woman! And we can’t forget little Dooley, the boy who needs lots of love and care and has nowhere to turn but to Father Tim. And Esther – the lady who bakes the fantastic orange marmalade cakes.
Sissy: Father Tim, in case you wondered, is an Episcopalian priest, ( in case you didn’t catch that in the synopsis) and therefore allowed to have romance and marriage. His quirky relationship with new neighbor Cynthia is fun to watch unfold. I was surprised when I saw reviews from people who don’t like this series– they accused it of being too “nice,” or “unexciting,” or too “non-cerebral.” While I agree that this is not the stuff of Oprah’s book club or of the Hunger Games excitement league, sometimes its nice to read about good, wholesome people doing good things. And these characters do have unique quirks and endearing traits a-plenty.
Bubby: I also saw comments saying that Jan Karon’s writing isn’t realistic or true-to-life and has too much “religious content”. Hallelujah! I find that real life is either not very interesting or way too painful or dramatic! I don’t want real life in my reading – I want something that makes me happy, that has a good ending and that spiffs up my day. Jan Karon’s Mitford series does that in spades. And who reads a book about a priest without expecting to run into a scripture or two? It’s good for you. Trust me. The series isn’t static, either. Even though our main character is an older gentleman, he still goes through the whole gamut of emotions and experiences, from love to fatherhood, sorrow and joy. It’s all there.
Sissy: Yes! And who says that just because you’re in your 50’s that means life is over and you’re all washed up and crinkled?
Bubby: Actually . . .
Sissy: I am not done. Who says that just because your jowls are sagging you don’t still need love? Love, romance, excitement, adventure? Who says you don’t still have the same feelings you had in your 20’s? You’re just a little bit wiser.
Bubby: And . . .
Sissy: Not done yet. And when you are in your 50’s, you know who you are and you have half your life left to get it right. That’s why I like Father Tim and Cynthia. I get tired of these perky little 20 and 30 year olds running around acting like they are the only ones who are important.
Bubby: *Raising hand* Can I speak now, Sissy? Or are you STILL not done?
Sissy: No one has to worry about you not getting your say in, Bubby. I’ve never worried about that our whole life!
Bubby: I’ll take that as a yes. I was trying to agree with you, dear one (not that you actually have ANY first-hand knowledge about being in your 50’s.) We review a lot of Young Adult fiction here and it’s refreshing to have an older protagonist for a change. Give At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon a read – or a re-read in my case. You’ll feel all warm and happy inside when you’re done! 4 bubbles.
Sissy: Father Tim and company get 4 bubbles from me as well. Take that, you young whippersnappers! You kids get off my lawn!
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