Father Tim is, of course, the beloved Episcopalian priest from the small fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina, brought to us by author extraordinaire Jan Karon. Karon has written 11 novels starring Father Tim and his beautiful wisteria-smelling wife Cynthia, as well as several children books, cookbooks, short stories – all involving Father Tim. The past few, however, haven’t taken place in Mitford.
Though it was fun to see Father Tim and Cynthia in different roles and various environments, I, for one, missed the people of Mitford. In Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, Karen takes us back to Mitford.
Oh, we all know Mitford is too good to be true. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t stop us from wanting to move there. We all want to shop at Avis’ grocery store. We want Puny to fry us some chicken. We want to buy our books at Happy Endings. Now, we want to have “fun that is funny” with Coot Hendrick as he learns to read.
It isn’t unusual for me to read a book that I simply can’t put down. Perhaps the storyline is so compelling that I just MUST read the next chapter. Maybe it’s such a great mystery that I can’t wait to see how it ends.
Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good , just like all of the Mitford books, is different. I read them a little at a time because I can’t bear that they will end. It’s as simple as that. They are just that beautiful.
Karon’s novels never have a single storyline, beyond the power of prayer and the grace of God. Instead, there are several story lines going on at the same time that conclude, well, at the end of the book. In Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, Father Tim, now retired from the priesthood, must decide if he’s ready to return to the pulpit. But he has plenty of other things going on – he is working a couple of days a week at Happy Endings because its proprietor is sick, Dooley is trying to make a decision about his relationship with Lace, and, much to Father Tim’s dismay, he has been voted Leading Citizen by the citizens of Mitford – an honor he doesn’t relish.
The story is laugh-out-loud funny in oh-so-many-places. For example, the beauty salon has added tanning services, and one by one, the citizens of Mitford show up at Father Tim’s door boasting various shades of tan. And then there are the constant typographical errors that show up in the Mitford Muse. So, so funny.
But mostly, Father Tim reminds me in each book about the importance of prayer in our lives. Don’t let this make you reluctant to read these wonderful novels. He doesn’t preach; he simply believes. I envy the ability to pray as Karon makes Father Tim pray. I have to remind myself over and over that God doesn’t need my words to be fancy; simple words would do. As Father Tim noted, it’s fine to simply say “Jesus.”
Do yourself a favor and pay a visit to Mitford. You will be happy that you did.
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