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Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good (Mitford) Paperback – August 4, 2015
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“Karon knits Mitford’s small-town characters and multiple storylines into a cozy sweater of a book…4/4 stars.”—USA Today
“Jan Karon reflects contemporary culture more fully than almost any other living novelist.”—Los Angeles Times
“Loyal fans of Karon’s Mitford novels and Father Tim will be delighted once again to spend time in this quintessential American village with its leading
citizen and his colorful coterie of friends, family, and dependent souls.”—Booklist
“With the homecoming of much-beloved characters and a few new additions, Karon’s latest provides a return to a setting readers have been clamoring to revisit. Longtime readers will not be disappointed by the author’s latest cozy redemption tale.”—Library Journal
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin; A Mitford Novel edition (August 4, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 576 pages
- ISBN-10 : 042527621X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0425276211
- Item Weight : 13.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.09 x 0.98 x 7.74 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #70,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Instantly, Father Tim Kavanagh came to my mind. A gentle man living in the mountains of North Carolina. Fr. Tim has been a book friend of mine (yes, I know he is a character in this series,) since the first volume of his life's adventures. A bachelor at the onset, now has a loving wife, son. Not to forget his beloved dog, Barnaby and their cat, Violet, a star in her own right.
The years have been up and down for Fr. Tim. What could be going on in his life now? Luckily, Author Jan Karon let us in to catch up. As expected, Fr. Tim, now retired is at odds with his life. He needs goals to keep him happy. Cynthia is writing a new book, but, what is the future for Father?
Well, I will tell you as his Mitford friends age and grow, Fr. Tim will find a new calling. Running a book store? Acting as a match maker? Counseling a new son? Perhaps, all of these things as well as tending to his ever present flock. A man doesn't always need a concrete building to call a church.
Did this novel soothe my tattered nerves? Yes. Did this novel inspire me to get back into life with some energy? Yes. Was this book worth reading? Oh my goodness, Yes. A profound yes. I look forward to Fr. Tim's life for as long as Ms. Karon will share it with us.
This book opens with Father Tim and Cynthia returning to Mitford after a trip to Ireland. Retirement hasn’t exactly grown on Father Tim; he’s a little lost and struggling to find something meaningful to spend his time on. The opportunity to act as a long-term interim priest presents itself but is that really what Father Tim wants at this stage in his life? Could he find a sense of purpose that doesn’t necessarily involve a pulpit?
As I said earlier, it’s been a long time since I’ve visited Mitford and I can’t say that I exactly recall every character that crops up in this story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. This story lacks a central plot; it’s more or less a series of vignettes celebrating life’s simpler moments and occasionally touching on some of the tougher challenges that we all face at some time or another. Like its predecessors this book is filled with warmth, humor, kindness and a strong sense of community. It’s an uplifting story, and while I wouldn’t pigeonhole it as “Christian Fiction”, it certainly has strong spiritual undertones. Jan Karon creates vivid characters and has a knack for capturing accents and incorporating them seamlessly into the dialog.
So why only 3 measly stars? At over 500 pages this book is just too long for so little “story” to be told. For the first few hundred pages I was happy enough to bask in nostalgia while visiting with old friends, but the lack of a compelling central plot began to take its toll. There was also a choppiness to the story that could be jarring at times – the little “slice of life” stories often didn’t flow well and there were a couple of storylines that bordered on the ridiculous (a movie star for Pete’s sake).
In the end I’m glad I read this and it brought back some good memories. Perhaps a decade is too long to wait to go back and revisit a once beloved series. Then again, it’s always possible that my reading tastes have changed. At any rate, this is not a book that I’d recommend if you are new to the series. You’ll want to start with Book One: At Home in Mitford (The Mitford Years, Book 1)
I had only one difficulty with this story: I found it hard to follow. I never had that difficulty before, so maybe it’s just that I’m older and less able to keep track of multiple characters. Or maybe I missed a Karon book that might contain missing links. I thought I’d read them all, but maybe not. Or perhaps when Karon included a backstory reminder, I lost track of the current thread. I don’t know. I still very much enjoyed the book; I’m just not sure I got all of it.
Some might see another negative in that the story seems too idyllic. I wondered about this myself. Earlier novels in the Mitford series did seem to have more sinister evil-caused tension in them. This novel’s characters face plenty of challenges like personality clashes, health threats, rebellion, addictions, and floundering. Several of these situations create significant suspense. So the story is not without its representation of our fallen world. And I concluded that in fact, this story is not TOO idyllic. Here’s why.
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good shows, as does Charles Sheldon’s 1896 novel In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?, what Jesus might do if He lived in Mitford, or my town, or yours. Not that Father Tim is perfect. But he obeys how Jesus taught us to live, he musters courage to confront and go out of his way for others, and he gives credit to God. The “Yeah, right, who would do that?” part of me wants to call this story too idyllic, because I know I don’t do what Father Tim does. But the “Oh, this way of living is God’s best desire for us” part of me is humbled to see Father Tim’s example.
We humans long to belong. We long to be understood. We long for people to see our hearts with God’s love and to show us mercy. It’s a kind of heaven on earth, a foretaste of real heaven, and a picture of God’s love for us. In that, the novel does give us an idyllic picture, but it is not TOO idyllic. It is possible. It is true. It is the earthly love God had in mind when He gave us His commandments. In Somewhere Safe, the weekly newspaper, Mitford Muse, has a contest themed “Does Mitford still take care of its own?” I felt inspired seeing all the ways it still does.