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Let me start by saying that I have loved the books in the Mitford series and anticipated this book--# 10 with great excitement-- counting the days until it was released on Audible. The idea of having a new book from Jan Karon and John McDonough returning as narrator was wonderful. That said-- I had some issues and concerns that I need to address in this review.
First, it is important to note that this book actually comes after the two books in the Father Tim series rather than after book 9 in the Mitford series. It is best to listen to books 1 through 9 from Mitford and then move on to Home in Holly Springs and In the Company of Others BEFORE listening to this book --#10. There are a great deal of plot spoilers in this book about all of the other books. The Father Tim books will be ruined if you skip them now and read them later--even though they are a different series.
Further, there is a great deal of rehashing and retelling of old stories from previous books. This is more than a short, plot based reintroduction of characters and an occasional revisit to prior events. The first five chapters (at least) all seemed to be retelling--and as such--very repetitive and almost boring after a while. Most people who have read and loved these books know the characters well and don't need all the reminders and back stories.
My biggest concern was that one of the reasons many readers love the series is the wonderful positivity, wacky humor, friendliness of the community and the sense of connectedness the books embrace. In the past the characters were very kind to each other, often turning neighbors into family. With this installment there is an edginess and a feeling of discontent in the town. Mitford seems to have moved fully into the modern world and with all these changes comes all the negative draw backs as well. The tone of this installment was much darker and harsher. Everyone seems to be suffering and/or in some sort of trouble or conflict. If the reader is looking for the zest, the food, and upbeat silliness from the previous books they will be disappointed. Mitford no longer seems to be the safe haven from the worldly stresses and strains that it once was. Much of the cozy is gone.
John McDonough's narration--a favorite of mine from the past--was over the top in parts. Some voices were almost ear splitting. This evened out as the book progressed. He still is Father Tim to me--but it was a bit forced at times.
I am not suggesting that you skip the book. I just think it best to go into such a long listen (over 17 hours) with your eyes open. There are many good things about this installment--it's just different than I had expected. Listening is no longer the comforting visit and the reassuring escape from the difficulties of every day life--where all things are possible--that it once was. I am sorry to see it go.
47 of 50 people found this review helpful
The great writing and imagination of Jan Karon appears to be saying a goodbye to Father Tim, Cynthia, and all the Mitford town folk in this most recent and long awaited Mitford book.
Unfortunately, Karon's "putting to bed" of the many characters of our beloved Mitford made this last book a painful dirge at times, too much like the real life we try to escape when we pick up one of her books.
Perhaps the author, who must be 70 or close to it, is bringing some of her own reality into this book.
The last chapter does hint at the possibility of a new story built around Father Tim's adopted son Dooley, but after such a poignant goodbye in this recent book, one wonders if the author will tackle such a fresh beginning?
May God stir Jan Karon's imagination again or lay that "mantle" upon new shoulders. We need the cultural sanity and spiritual hope of these books more than ever.
Lin Willett, Gladstone Oregon
8 of 8 people found this review helpful