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Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: The Mitford Years by Jan Karon

It's about time I did another book review, isn't it? I've read a few lately. One of them is These High Green Hills by Jan Karon. As it's third in a series of nine, the Mitford years, I can't just jump in can I? That would be like washing the dishes before you've had your supper.

These are charming books about the small town life of Father Tim in a fictional town in the mountains of Western North Carolina. We meet Father Tim in his twilight years as he works in this Southern community chock full of country "characters" that will make you smile. Along the way, he adopts a cantankerous young boy, finds romance and helps friends with problems. 

Karon is from Lenoir, NC, so I find the town and its folk quite familiar. Mitford is tucked in the mountains of NC and the cities of Asheville, Winston-Salem and Charlotte are all mentioned. As a friend noted, reading books by North Carolina authors makes the story seem more familiar, more real. And you know you've read a good book when you miss the characters when you've finished the book. Happily, there are many in this series and you can visit these characters often. I would love it if Father Tim were a friend of mine and I could have a glass of sweet tea with him on my porch and ask for his advice.

These books are full of rural wisdom:

"Sometimes you have to gag on fancy before you can appreciate plain, th' way I see it. For too many years, I ate fancy, I dressed fancy, I talked fancy. A while back, I decided to start talkin' th' way I was raised t' talk, and for th' first time in forty years, I can understand what I'm sayin'."  -At Home in Mitford
These books are heartwarming and the town of Mitford is a refreshing retreat. I recommend reading them chronologically. I like to read one as a respite after a particularly heavy or disturbing novel for balance. It's definitely a Christian series, and although Father Tim is Episcopalian, you'll find the books uplifting and familiar no matter which branch of Christianity you cling to. 

The Mitford series is followed by a Father Tim series and there is also a byproduct children's book series, as Father Tim's wife is a children's book author of a series about her cat Violet. 

You can find the entire series in sets at most bookstores, but they are very popular and I've had no trouble finding them in the library, from neighbors and book exchanges like the one at
Washington Perk!


The Mitford Years: Books 1-6
Jan Karon

Other book reviews by me:
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith
Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy
Fifth Born by Zelda Lockhart

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