Friday, March 06, 2009

Moving to Mitford

I typically don’t like modern Christian fiction - my usual adjective for these is vapid. Reading Christian romance novels, I am convinced, is a form of torture! Whatever the latest fiction series creating buzz in the Christian bookstores, it will not get a moments’ notice from me.

My Mom, however, discovered Jan Karon’s Mitford Series and fell in love with the books. She devoured the nine installments and spoke wistfully of re-reading them. For Christmas, I came across several of the books at Half Price Books for $1 and had an epiphany. This would be one of Mom’s Christmas presents – the whole Mitford Series! She was delighted! The only problem – she just knew I would love them as much as she did and so I had to read them. My (unspoken) reaction? Ugh.

I love my Mom dearly and thought it would be nice to have something to discuss, so when she brought the first three books in the series to me, I dutifully began reading, albeit with a heavy sigh. After the first few chapters, I realized Mama truly does know best. I love Mitford.

I immediately fell for Father Tim, the bachelor Episcopal priest, who in his sixties discovers love with his new neighbor Cynthia. Tim is a loving man, but has people he has trouble tolerating, even in his own congregation! He is a diabetic who sneaks sugar. In other words, Father Tim is a real person and not some idealized priest.

The other characters are just as winsome. I want to sit on Miss Sadie’s porch and sip tea while she tells me stories or listen to Uncle Billy’s jokes while avoiding his wife Rose’s cooking. Mostly, I want to scratch Father Tim’s big black dog Barnabas on his head.

Karon has created a literary Mayberry. It’s a place of simple pleasures and nicely tied up stories. Life circumstances always have a happy ending in this little town. There will be no shocking twists; plotlines are telegraphed well in advance. This is a place where all is right with the world or will be in just a chapter or two.

With the stock market tanking and concerns over the direction in which our country is being led, like Rascal Flats, I miss Mayberry. This is precisely why now is the time to discover Mitford. It is a wonderful respite from a stressful life.

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