A Light in the Window by Jan Karon

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

A Light in the Window by Jan Karon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Among other goings-on in the town of Mitford, Father Tim is having trouble with women. His eccentric cousin Meg, whom he happens not to know, shows up for an uninvited, indefinite stay at his house. Recently widowed Edith is hot on Father Tim’s bachelor tail. Not to mention that he’s falling for his neighbor, Cynthia, and he doesn’t know what to do about it in A Light in the Window, a novel by author Jan Karon.

Another delightful jaunt through town in this second book in the Mitford Years series. So endlessly cute and humorous. And I always appreciate a read where the author can continually surprise me. They don’t have to be big, flashy surprises, but even cleverly simple ones keep me engaged and on my toes. I like not being able to predict everything the story or a character is going to say or do next.

One stretch I enjoyed most in this novel was the small-town Christmas season. But even more than that, there’s something refreshing about a main character in his sixties who’s never been married, feeling clueless as he navigates the daunting twists and turns of romance and wonders at the untapped recesses of his own heart. I’ll admit there were a few times when Cynthia aggravated me more than Tim did, but some of their letters to each other made me ache in a (very good) way I’m not sure I’ve ached before, while reading a love story. Just…gol-lee.

When a novel can make you slap it closed and literally hug it after you’ve finished it, something definitely went right. I’m looking forward to continuing this series.

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So, if you’re new to Mitford, don’t do what I did, ‘kay? Don’t start with Book Ten. But, in case you’re curious to know what all I had to say about it…

 

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The charming town of Mitford may be small, but make no mistake—it’s neither sleepy nor idle. Father Tim, a bachelor, is amply occupied, keeping up with the townsfolk and the lives and needs of his parishioners. Considering the surprises that accompany his sixtieth year, Father Tim will have to accept new ways to take care of his own needs in At Home in Mitford, a novel by author Jan Karon.

This first book in the beloved Mitford Years series is the second Mitford book I’ve read. For various reasons, I broke some rules a few years ago and jumped into the series with Book Ten (or Book Twelve, depending on how you count the bonus Father Tim series that intertwines with this one.) After reading (and loving!) Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, I knew I’d just have to go back and start the series from the beginning.

I found this novel amusing in some places, hilarious in others, and altogether delightful, even as it has its share of heartrending moments. The story moves at a nice clip overall, oftentimes saying just enough, trusting the reader to get it. There’s also a mystery and dashes of romance woven in.

Father Tim and the people of Mitford struck me as a bit more cartoony in this novel than the one I started with, but that’s very likely due to the darling (did I just say “darling”?) illustrations at the opening of every chapter in the Penguin edition I read. All’s not perfect in this town, as the characters face some true-to-life challenges, and not everything in their backstories (including cases of crime and racism) is pretty. I’ll admit I had trouble keeping all of the characters straight at times, but hearing from so many of them got me that much better acquainted with Mitford.

I’m sure this is the kind of series that grows on you the further along you get into it, and I’m looking forward to reading the next novel.

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Here’s my review of Book Two in the Mitford Years series, A Light in the Window.

 

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

fiction-books-5 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Somewhere Safe with Somebody GoodSomewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

An unprecedented act on my part: I jumped right in, deep into a series, without having yet read any of the series’ earlier books, which I’m aware are meant to be read in sequential order. Additionally, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is the first book whatsoever that I’ve read by Jan Karon. Perhaps this act of mine is somewhat of a violation against the International Bookworm’s Unofficial Code or something, but, really, how could I pass up a novel with such a title when it came across my path?

A possible plus here is that my rating for this novel isn’t riding in on the coattails of any previous/established love for this series or its characters, since I came in absolutely new to Father Tim Kavanagh and the people of small-town Mitford.

I can’t tell you at exactly what point I became so engrossed in this novel that I wished I could swallow it whole, but it must have been somewhere during the first fourth of the book. I loved Karon’s deft style and pacing, the chance to catch woven glimpses into her well-written characters’ lives. Their joys, their hardships, and their questions are real; I could’ve hugged good ol’ Coot Hendrick, and I made a delightfully failed attempt at restraining my laughter while encountering J.C. and Mule’s banter while I was reading in public. (Albeit I did keep my chortling as quiet as was possible, in the moment.)

Do I intend to go back and read more of the Mitford Years series? Yes! Though, please pardon me, I still shan’t guarantee the order I may read them in.

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Note to my blog readers: there’s just a smidgen of characters’ language in the novel that I wouldn’t use.

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Well! I have indeed gone back and started at the beginning of the Mitford Years series. Here’s my review of At Home in Mitford.