Wednesday, October 7, 2015

At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon

Sometimes you just need a nice book.  A book that is sweet and serene without all the things that I don't like about this world.  There are plenty of things I do like, but it seems the entertainment industry, including books, focuses on nothing but meaningless sex, gratuitous violence and vulgar language.  My life is stressful and sometimes I just need to escape to a world that can simply be called "nice". 

And sometimes you miss the people who meant so much to you at one point in your life.  At Home In Mitford is of course the first book in the Mitford Series by Jan Karon.  My grandmother and her sister loved these books.  I'm fairly certain they both  had the complete set. (At least what had been published up to the point of their deaths.)  I now wish I had my grandmother's set.  I chose to read these books because I was missing my Granny and Aunt Elaine.

And sometimes you reread a book because it reminds you of a time in your life that was good.  A brief time in a very hard and hurtful time that was good and there seemed there might be hope for the future.  That is why I reread this first book.  I originally read this book when my son, who is now graduated and in the Army, was in the fourth grade.  We had no money back then.  And by no money, I mean no money.  I was checking books out at the library to feed my insatiable need to read.  My last $20 had gone to pay for my son's enrollment in a city flag football league.  I would take this book to his practices and read.  It was kind of nice really.  It was autumn and the evenings were pleasantly cool and I would read this book and watch practice.  Times were tough, I was still hiding from my son's father, money was tight, and I was deep in depression, but on the cool autumn nights of practice, with this book in my hands, things didn't seem so bad.

So it was with these thoughts and memories that I decided to read the Mitford Series.  I remembered a small amount from my first reading, but I must say I truly enjoyed this reread.  With about 10 years between my original reading and this reading, I of course, bring new understanding and a different outlook to this most recent reading.  Thankfully that did not change my enjoyment of the book.  I still appreciate the kindness of the book.  I love the simplicity and decentness of the book.  Although the author pretty much simply writes about the day to day life of a village priest, the book drew me in and lulled me into a nostalgic state of mind with the beauty of small town American life.

One thing I can say with certainty is that I truly do appreciate Jan Karon's writing style.  What I like about her writing style is that it's not boring.  And by this I mean she clearly has a strong grasp of proper grammar.  Likewise her writing is robust with varied sentence complexity and a good vocabulary.  I appreciate that she is not verbose and overwrought.  Her writing mirrors the dignity of the book she has written.

As for the mechanics of plot, pacing, etc, I find I am perfectly happy with this book.  While the book meanders calmly through every day life in a small North Carolina village, it doesn't lack for plot.  There is a plot, after all life has a plot, if you will.  We don't meander aimlessly through life.  As such, this book does not meander aimlessly along.  Things happen, there are some mysteries to be solved, and a few things from the past that need understanding.  So while the book is not fast paced, it still moves at the speed of village life and that suits this story just fine.

I can also say that the characters are all lovable.  Some, of course, more than others, but each character will endear itself to you in one way or another.  Just like the people you encounter in your own life.  I must admit though, my favorite character is very likely Miss Sadie.  Yes, I do thoroughly enjoy the main character, Father Tim.  He's wonderful and real and very likable.  But Miss Sadie.  She just gets into your heart and you can't help but appreciate the kind, genteel lady with a big generous heart.

All things considered, I can't recommend this book enough.  This book is a soothing balm to my soul once again in a trying time.  But what I like most is that I can recommend this book to anyone.  I can recommend this book to teens or adults and know that I'm not exposing anyone to anything offensive.  I would most certainly not relegate this book to only a beach read or a weekend read.  Certainly this book could be a quick read, but I find I enjoy reading this book bundled up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea.  I love to read this book slowly and just savor the tranquility of Mitford.

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