Sunday, September 11, 2005

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon


At Home in Mitford is the first novel in the Mitford series by Jan Karon. Mitford is peaceful and described as a village with turn of the century charm and beauty. This small town discourages tourism and the Mayor would like it to be known as "the pause that refreshes". In other words, the town welcomes visitors but expects the visitors to just pass through.

Father Tim

The story centers around Father Tim, a 60 year old Episcopalian rector, who is longing to get married. We learn a lot about Father Tim. He is diabetic and has a sweet tooth. His church office is organized by Emma, his 58 year old Secretary. His home is organized by Puny Bradshaw, his housekeeper. Strange name. Even more strange is the name Mule Skinner, one of the minor characters in the book.

Father Tim becomes attached to a dog as big as a Buick that he calls Barnabas. Barnabas is the only boisterous and quirky character in the book. Barnabas responds positively to quotes from scripture and to poetry. Scripture is quoted throughout the book.

The tone is light and funny. The first major challenge that Father Tim faces in the story revolves around a gift to the church; a painting which may or may not be a valuable Veneer. He spends his time doing the expected duties such as praying for the sick and visiting the elderly but has unusual tasks as well. This includes matchmaking,praying for single women to find a husband, solving mysteries such as the missing marmalade cake, missing 11 year old boy, missing Bible, and missing diamonds.

Interestingly, Father Tim has a new and very attractive neighbor who is a writer, artist and cat owner; Cynthia.

Final Comments

I read Garden of Eden by Eve Adams recently and I see some similarities with this book. First, both books are about life in small town America. Secondly, both the village of Eden and Mitford have Ministers who are the voice of reason in the community and are confidantes to the residents. However, whereas life in Mitford is sugary sweet, life in Eden is much more rowdy. Rambunctious is actually the word that comes to my mind. Also, the characters in Eden are far more quirky. Interestingly, one of the minor characters in Mitford is named Evie Adams.

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