I remember reading the very first Mitford book – “At Home In Mitford” – way back in 1994, and the way it made me feel. Millions of readers – myself included – instantly fell in love with the little town, Father Timothy Cavanaugh, and his unusual neighbors and parishioners. The author, Jan Karon, kept writing stories about the people of Mitford, and we all kept reading.
This book is the 14th book in the series. Father Tim is now totally retired from being a pastor, and is enjoying retirement with his lovely wife, Cynthia. Their adopted son Dooley is grown, married to Lace, and has his own veterinarian practice. Dooley and Lace are in the process of adopting their 4-year-old foster child, Jack. Between learning to be a good father, and taking care of his vet business, Dooley is feeling overwhelmed.
What I enjoyed the most about this book was getting to know Avis Packard (the owner of the Local grocery-store) better. Avis has always been in the Mitford books, but never really got any attention. It was like getting to know a really shy person you’ve been around for years. He’s just such an unassuming guy! I was glad he finally got a large part in the story-line.
Overall, though, this book fell flat in comparison to the earlier books. It focused mainly on Dooley at Meadowgate (his farm), and his troubled siblings and mother. I think the story-line about his upbringing has been beat to death, and I would have liked to see some other characters get some stage space. Like Emma, for example. The snappy, grumpy church secretary from the first couple books briefly appeared in this book, then faded out, which was disappointing. We’ve never really gotten to see her married life with the mailman; that could have been interesting. There are a host of other small characters scattered about Mitford that could have livened up the book.
Even though this is a relatively uneventful chapter in the line of Mitford tales, it was still a joy to listen to as I did my housework and some sewing. Mitford, whether exciting or quiet, will always be a place I want to find.