Opening the cover of IN THIS MOUNTAIN feels like arriving at a
family reunion. By this volume, the seventh in the series, Jan
Karon's fans greet every chapter eagerly, awaiting word of who's
doing what about town. The busy villagers bustle in and out,
eliciting smiles and chuckles. News of deaths and births, local
gossip, disasters, and miracles fills the pages. There are some new
faces but mostly old friends, many of whom we wouldn't mind calling
Father Timothy Kavanagh, although older than when we first met him
six volumes back, continues to make his rounds in tiny Mitford,
population 1,033. His beloved wife Cynthia, author of best-selling
Violet The Cat books, finds her popularity skyrocketing and strikes
out on a tour after a trip to New York to accept another
prestigious award. Dooley Barlowe, the priest's "adopted son" heads
off to college, visiting occasionally so as to keep in touch with
the folks and check on the progress in the effort to find his
biological father and brother --- and maybe catch a glimpse of Lace
Turner, his childhood friend now grown into a lovely young
Retirement started out with quiet days, and the priest found
himself at loose ends too often. Filling the time steamrolls,
however, and he soon discovers his calendar booked up as much as
ever. Along with recuperating from a nasty accident, his days
become packed with guest preaching, hospital visits, a small crisis
here, and a large disaster there.
In town, the rivalry between barber and stylist wages on, the
competition stiffer than ever. The Man in the Attic returns, after
his eight-year stint in prison, finding a job at the local
bookstore, whose manager becomes smitten with the reformed convict.
Father Tim's headstrong secretary Emma goes on frustrating and
delighting him as ever before. And a host of lovable townsfolk vie
for his attention. Of course, never too far away is man's best
friend, now no longer a pup, Barnabas, the dog who adopted the
Father. There's never a dull moment in Mitford.
There are dark sides, however. Father Tim's nemesis, Edith Mallory,
drums up an evil scheme, putting him in a sticky situation. Beyond
that, he finds himself challenged time and again. The Sweet Stuff
Bakery lures him daily with its pastries, as does the Main Street
Grill with many forbidden foods. Despite Doc Harper's warnings, he
can't seem to get the right balance of food, exercise, and rest
figured out. His diabetes flares when he falls victim to
temptation, landing him in the hospital. But his problem involves
more than a sugar high and he faces some difficult healing, both in
body and soul. Recovery takes a fair piece of time.
IN THIS MOUNTAIN, as indeed all of the others in the series, is the
ultimate feel good book. If everyone periodically read one of Jan
Karon's Mitford Years novels, the world would be a happier place.
Once again, you'll put this book down with a smile and a wistful
hope that number eight isn't too far off.
If this is your first visit to Mitford, North Carolina, a pleasant
surprise awaits you. Enrich your life with the story from its
inception. Try starting with AT HOME IN MITFORD and get to know the
community through A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW; THESE HIGH, GREEN HILLS;
OUT TO CANAAN; A NEW SONG; and A COMMON LIFE: The Wedding Story.
Your heart will thank you.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011
In This Mountain (The Mitford Years, Book 7)