Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stress Relief for a Sunday

Title: At Home in Mitford
Author: Jan Karon
Publisher: New York : Penguin Audio, [2006]
Genre: Southern Christian Fiction 
Subject: Small town life, Episcopalian priesthood
Setting:  Fictional town, Mitford North Carolina
Series: The Mitford Years -#1
Source: Audio from public library -although I own the print copy
Why did I read this book now? I needed something calming and soothing, and I knew from experience this was it.

This past week has seen many "stressers" on Tutu's plate, not the least of which is planning a family reunion in California when I'm sitting in Maine. It's also strawberry season, and I've missed "putting them up" for the past two years.  This year I was determined to get some done, and now can report I have a half dozen jars of freezer jam to look forward to this winter.  I'm excited that my sister will be in town this week at her cottage down the road here in Maine.  She has a terrific hammock swinging in her yard looking out on the ocean, and I may have to trade a jar of jam for a quiet hour of watching the gulls fly over and the boats sail by.

Then in a few weeks Mr and Mrs. Tutu will  head out on the great California adventure.  I'll keep you posted as we get closer, and details fill in.  But in the meantime, when I found myself making lists of my lists, and walking around muttering "I've got to write those reviews," I knew it was time to step back, take a deep breath, load up a good relaxing audio, and head to the pool.

Who needs wine when there's a copy of one of Jan Karon's Fr. Tim books at hand?  This is one of my top ten feel good books.  The looney but likeable cast of characters and the small town setting are spot on. Fr. Tim, the rector of Lord's Chapel, an Episcopal church in rural North Carolina, is compassionate and lovable. A 60 years old confirmed bachelor, he is confronted with a) an ever-increasing health crisis when he ignores his doctor's warnings about managing his Type II Diabetes; b) a stray dog he names Barnabas who is the size of a refrigerator and who responds only to shouted Bible verses; c) sudden fatherhood in the person of a temporary foster child--Dooley Barlowe--a 10 year old boy raised in "the hollers" who is almost totally without family and who has no social skills; and d) a blossoming romance in the person of his new next-door neighbor Cynthia--famous author of children's picture books, who has terrific legs and who owns Violet the cat. The story is well fleshed out, but leaves much room for the ensuing books in the series. 

As many times as I have read or listened to this one (the audio is spectacular) I always find something new to take away. While many would consider it "religious", it is not at all preachy, and simply offers soothing life lessons and encouragement. It's a pure comfort read--no big surprises, problems are resolved in time, and although all is right with the world at the end, the reader knows there will always be more crises to solve and longs to know what comes next.  It's one of those series where you immediately go searching for the next installment. I've read them all, but suspect that I'll be re-reading several of them periodically throughout the rest of this year.


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