I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this book. Having already fallen hard for Father Tim, Cynthia, Dooley and the rest of the gang who grace the pages of the At Home in Mitford series, I expected it would be a good read. Home to Holly Springs is not another in the Mitford series, but rather is the first of “The Father Tim Novels” and can I just tell you how much that thrills me?
The first, which means there will be more.
The story begins when Father Tim, of Mitford, receives an anonymous letter that simply says, “Come home.” So he does. After thirty-eight years away, he heads home to Holly Springs, Mississippi–where he grew up, where his heart was broken and never healed. His only companion is his big dog, Barnabas, and it’s nice to have one of the Mitford characters along for the ride through the pages of this novel.
When I read the Mitford series, I found myself laughing out loud now and then. While Home to Holly Springs does offer a bit of that, it goes deeper, into the hurts of childhood, the ones that don’t just go away, but rather must be dealt with. Being a Father Tim fan, I love how this book takes us back to his childhood home, and shows us what shaped him into the man he became. He has some skeletons in his closet and that only endears him to me. Much like real life, I like a character with some flaws, some dirt under his nails.
Jan Karon’s writing is easy to identify with. Not only a gift to anyone who reads it, it is a work of art, masterfully showing us the beauty of ordinary places, ordinary days, ordinary people. That she also easily weaves the story of Christ’s gift of redemption makes this book a wonderful gift for anyone searching for meaning and significance in life.
Because this book deals with a bit of the baggage that accumulates throughout a life, there are some sexual references, and a bit of what I would call ‘salty’ language. While it is appropriately handled, it might offend a few. If my grandmother was still here, on her front porch, in her rocking chair, reading a few passages of this book, she might blush a bit. I’ve read a few other reviews of this book, criticizing Jan Karon for her choice of language, but I still prefer that a book come across as real, not cleaned up with words that never would have actually been spoken. Karon wrote in character, choosing language suitable for those characters and that time in our country.
Being an avid reader, I have room for only a certain number of hardback books to live on my bookshelves. The entire Mitford series is there, waiting for another read someday. Home to Holly Springs has definitely earned a spot next to them. It is my hands-down favorite by Karon so far, and I can’t wait for the next one to come off the presses. Wonderful, wonderful read.
Bev shares whatever’s on her heart at Scratchin’ the Surface, when she doesn’t have her nose in a book, or isn’t on the phone with someone in her family.