In This Mountain (Mitford Series #7)

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The seventh novel in the beloved Mitford series, by the bestselling author of At Home in Mitford and Somebody Safe with Somebody Good 

Father Tim and Cynthia have been at home in Mitford for three years since returning from Whitecap Island.

In the little town that's home-away-from-home to millions of readers, life hums along as usual. Dooley looks toward his career as a vet; Joe Ivey and Fancy Skinner fight a haircut price ...

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In This Mountain (Mitford Series #7)

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The seventh novel in the beloved Mitford series, by the bestselling author of At Home in Mitford and Somebody Safe with Somebody Good 

Father Tim and Cynthia have been at home in Mitford for three years since returning from Whitecap Island.

In the little town that's home-away-from-home to millions of readers, life hums along as usual. Dooley looks toward his career as a vet; Joe Ivey and Fancy Skinner fight a haircut price war that takes no prisoners; and Percy steps out on a limb with a risky new menu item at the Main Street Grill.

Though Father Tim dislikes change, he dislikes retirement even more. As he and Cynthia gear up for a year-long ministry across the state line, a series of events sends shock waves through his faith-and the whole town of Mitford.

In her seventh novel in the bestselling Mitford Years series, Jan Karon delivers surprises of every kind, including the return of the man in the attic and an ending that no one in Mitford will ever forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Beth Kephart
The seventh installment of the Mitford Years novels finds Father Tim beset by the blues, his wife, Cynthia, bustling with her usual compensatory cheer and all the folks of Mitford going about their ordinary lives at Happy Endings Bookstore, Sweet Stuff Bakery, Mitford Blossoms and the other small-town spots that Karon's millions of readers have come to know. Caught in the quagmire of retirement and a tad uncomfortable with Cynthia's success as a children's book author, Father Tim thinks about—and at times pursues—new ways to spend his days. He fiddles with a few mild essays. He buys his wife flowers. He learns how to send e-mails. He tries a sandwich wrap. He helps Dooley, a boy he'd taken in several years before, locate a missing sibling. He prepares salmon roulade. Karon's latest book is a quilt of common scenes and common sayings: "She could holler at him 'til she was blue in the face"; "Home is where the heart is"; "she couldn't make heads nor tails of the words." There are no challenges here and no surprises, nothing daring or remotely literary—little that one might call original or fresh. Karon's subject has always been the supremely ordinary, and Mitford fans will not be disappointed here.
Library Journal
Father Tim Cavanaugh is bored. At first, retirement seemed like a good thing; now he longs for a mission, a parish, a goal. After a diabetic blackout at the wheel of his red Mustang, he finds he has seriously injured a fellow clergyman and killed the man's dog. Guilt, confusion, pain, and envy send him into a depression. However, God is keeping Father Tim in Mitford, NC, for a number of reasonsDto find Dooley Barlow's brother Sammy, to bury Dooley's grandfather, to encourage and support the "man in the attic" when he is released from prison, to help Uncle Billy find some new jokes, and to act as cheerleader for his wife, Cynthia, as she is showered with awards from the publishing world. Once Father Tim realizes that he is needed in Mitford, he regains his love of life, his sense of humor, and his happy existence. Karon's writing makes everyday life seem very important; her storytelling compels the listener to become a caring and concerned part of the community. Read with lively and interesting voices by John McDonough, this novel is highly recommended.DJoanna M. Burkhardt, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island, Providence Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142002582
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/29/2003
  • Series: Mitford Series, #7
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 74,943
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.76 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Jan Karon
Jan Karon, born Janice Meredith Wilson in the foothills of North Carolina, was named after the title of a popular novel, Janice Meredith.

Jan wrote her first novel at the age of ten. "The manuscript was written on Blue Horse notebook paper, and was, for good reason, kept hidden from my sister. When she found it, she discovered the one curse word I had, with pounding heart, included in someone's speech. For Pete's sake, hadn't Rhett Butler used that very same word and gotten away with it? After my grandmother's exceedingly focused reproof, I've written books without cussin' ever since."

Several years ago, Karon left a successful career in advertising to move to the mountain village of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, and write books. "I stepped out on faith to follow my lifelong dream of being an author," she says. "I made real sacrifices and took big risks. But living, it seems to me, is largely about risk."

Enthusiastic booksellers across the country have introduced readers of all ages to Karon's heartwarming books. At Home in Mitford, Karon's first book in the Mitford series, was nominated for an ABBY by the American Booksellers Association in 1996 and again in 1997. Bookstore owner, Shirley Sprinkle, says, "The Mitford Books have been our all-time fiction bestsellers since we went in business twenty-five years ago. We've sold 10,000 of Jan's books and don't see any end to the Mitford phenomenon."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Janice Meredith Wilson
    2. Hometown:
      Blowing Rock, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lenoir, North Carolina

Read an Excerpt

Moles again!

    Father Tim Kavanagh stood on the front steps of the yellow house and looked with dismay at the mounds of raw earth disgorged upon his frozen March grass.

    Holes pocked the lawn, causing it to resemble a lunar surface; berms of dirt crisscrossed the yard like stone walls viewed from an Irish hilltop.

    He glanced across the driveway to the rectory, once his home and now his rental property, where the pesky Talpidae were entertaining themselves in precisely the same fashion. Indeed, they had nearly uprooted Hélène Pringle's modest sign, Lessons for the Piano, Inquire Within; it slanted drunkenly to the right.

    Year after year, he'd tried his hand at mole-removal remedies, but the varmints had one-upped him repeatedly; in truth, they appeared to relish coming back for more, and in greater numbers.

    He walked into the yard and gave the nearest mound a swift kick. Blast moles to the other side of the moon, and leave it to him to have a wife who wanted them caught in traps and carted to the country where they might frolic in a meadow among buttercups and bluebells.

    And who was to do the catching and carting? Yours truly.

    He went inside to his study and called the Hard to Beat Hardware in Wesley, believing since childhood that hardware stores somehow had the answers to life's more vexing problems.

    "Voles!" exclaimed the hardware man. "What most people've got is voles, they just think they're moles!"


    "What voles do is eat th' roots of your plants, chow down on your bulbs an' all. Have your bulbs bloomed th' last few years?"

    "Why, yes. Yes, they have."

    The hardware man sighed. "So maybe it is moles. Well, they're in there for the grubs, you know, what you have to do is kill th' grubs."

    "I was thinking more about ah, taking out the moles."

    "Cain't do that n'more, state law."

    Even the government had jumped on the bandwagon for moles, demonstrating yet again what government had come to in this country. "So. How do you get rid of grubs?"


    "I see."

    "'Course, some say don't use it if you got dogs and cats. You got dogs and cats?"

    "We do."

    He called Dora Pugh at the hardware on Main Street.

    "Whirligigs," said Dora. "You know, those little wooden propellerlike things on a stick, Ol' Man Mueller used to make 'em? They come painted an' all, to look like ducks an' geese an' whatnot. When th' wind blows, their wings fly around, that's th' propellers, and th' commotion sends sound waves down their tunnels and chases 'em out. But you have to use a good many whirligigs."

    He didn't think his wife would like their lawn studded with whirligigs.

    "Plus, there's somethin' that works on batt'ries, that you stick in th' ground. Only thing is, I'd have to order it special, which takes six weeks, an' by then ..."

    "... they'd probably be gone, anyway."

    "Right," said Dora, damping the phone between her left ear and shoulder while bagging seed corn.

    He queried Percy Mosely, longtime proprietor of the Main Street Grill. "What can you do to get rid of moles?"

    Percy labeled this a dumb question. "Catch 'em by th' tail an' bite their heads off is what I do."

    On his way to the post office, he met Gene Bolick leaving the annual sale on boiled wool items at the Irish Woolen Shop. Gene's brain tumor, inoperable because of its location near the brain stem, had caused him to teeter as he walked, a sight Father Tim did not relish seeing in his old friend and parishioner.

    "Look here!" Gene held up a parcel. "Cardigan sweater with leather buttons, fifty percent off, and another twenty percent today only. Better get in there while th' gettin's good."

    "No, thanks, the Busy Fingers crowd in Whitecap knitted me a cardigan that will outlast the Sphinx. Tell me, buddy—do you know anything about getting rid of moles?"

    "Moles? My daddy always hollered in their holes and they took off every whichaway."

    "What did he say when he hollered?"

    Gene cleared his throat, tilted toward Father Tim's right ear, and repeated the short, but fervent, litany.

    "My goodness!" said the earnest gardener, blushing to the very roots of what hair he had left.

    He heard the receiver being crushed against the capacious bosom of his bishop's secretary, and a muffled conversation. He thought it appealingly quaint not to be put on hold and have his ear blasted with music he didn't want to hear in the first place.

    "Timothy! A blessed Easter to you!"

    "And to you, Stuart!"

    "I was thinking of you only this morning."

    "Whatever for? Some interim pulpit assignment in outer Mongolia?"

    "No, just thinking that we haven't had a really decent chinwag in, good heavens, since before you went down to Whitecap."

    "An eon, to be precise." Well, a couple of years, anyway.

    "Come and have lunch with me," suggested his bishop, sounding ... sounding what? Pensive? Wistful?

    "I'll do it!" he said, decidedly spontaneous after last Sunday's Easter celebration. "I've been meaning to come for a visit, there's something I'd like us to talk over. I may have a crate of moles that must be taken to the country. I can release them on my way to you."

    "A crate of ... moles."

    "Yes." He didn't want to discuss it further.

    But he couldn't catch the blasted things. He prodded their tunnels with sticks, a burlap sack at the ready; he shouted into their burrows, repeating what Gene had recommended, though in a low voice; he blew his honorary Mitford Reds coach's whistle; he stomped on the ground like thunder.

    "I give up," he told his wife, teeth chattering from the cold.

    He noted the streak of blue watercolor on her chin, a sure sign she was working on her current children's book starring Violet, the real-life white cat who usually resided atop their refrigerator.

    "But you just started?"

    "Started? I've been working at it a full half hour."

    "Ten minutes max," Cynthia said. "I watched you, and I must say I never heard of getting rid of moles by shouting down their tunnels."

    He pulled his gloves off his frozen hands and sat on a kitchen stool, disgusted. His dog sprawled at his feet and yawned.

    "I mean, what were you saying when you shouted?"

    He had no intention of telling her. "If you still want them caught and crated up, you do the catching and crating, and I'll haul them to the country. A fair division of labor." He was sick of the whole business.

    Cynthia glared at him as if she were his fifth-grade teacher and he a dunce on the stool. "Why don't you just stop fretting over it, Timothy? Let them have their day!"

    Have their day! That was the artistic temperament for you. "But they're ruining the lawn I've slaved over for years, the lawn you dreamed of, longed for, indeed craved, so that you might walk on it barefoot—and I quote—‘as upon a bolt of unfurled velvet.’"

    "Oh, for heaven's sake, did I say such a silly thing?"

    He rolled his eyes.

    "Timothy, you know that if you simply turn your head for a while, the humps will go down, the holes will fill in, and by May or June, the lawn will be just fine."

    She was right, of course, but that wasn't the point.

    "I love you bunches," she said cheerily, trotting down the hall to her studio.

    He pulled on his running clothes with the eagerness of a kid yanked from bed on the day of a test he hadn't studied for.

    Exercise was good medicine for diabetes, but he didn't have to like it. In truth, he wondered why he didn't enjoy running anymore. He'd once enjoyed it immensely.

    "Peaks and valleys," he muttered. His biannual checkup was just around the bend, and he was going to walk into Hoppy Harper's office looking good.

    As the Lord's Chapel bells tolled noon, he was hightailing it to the Main Street Grill, where a birthday lunch for J. C. Hogan would be held in the rear booth.

    Flying out the door of Happy Endings Bookstore, he hooked a left and crashed into someone, full force.

    Edith Mallory staggered backward, regained her balance, and gave him a look that made his blood run cold.

    "Edith! I'm terribly sorry."

    "Why don't you watch where you're going?" She jerked the broad collar of a dark mink coat more securely around her face. "Clergy," she said with evident distaste. "They're always preoccupied with lofty thoughts, aren't they?"

    Not waiting for an answer, she swept past him into Happy Endings, where the bell jingled wildly on the door.

    "'Er High Muckety Muck traipsed by a minute ago," said Percy Mosely, wiping off the table of the rear booth.

    Father Tim noted that the slur of her perfume had been left on his clothes. "I just ran into her."

    "I'd like t' run into 'er ...," said the Grill owner, "with a eighteen-wheeler."

    If there was anyone in town who disliked Edith Mallory more than himself, it was Percy Mosely, who, a few years ago, had nearly lost his business to Edith's underhanded landlord tactics. It was clergy, namely yours truly, who had brought her nefarious ambitions to utter ruin. Thus, if there was anyone in town whom Edith Mallory could be presumed to despise more than Tim Kavanagh, he didn't have a clue who it might be.

    "Ever' time I think I've seen th' last of that witch on a broom, back she comes like a dog to 'is vomit."

    "Cool it, Percy, your blood pressure ..."

    "An' Ed Coffey still drivin' 'er around in that Lincoln like th' Queen of England, he ought t' be ashamed of his sorry self, he's brought disgrace on th' whole Coffey line."

    J. C. Hogan, Muse editor and Grill regular, slammed his overstuffed briefcase into the booth and slid in. "You'll never guess what's hit Main Street."

    Percy looked fierce. "Don't even mention 'er name in my place."

    "Joe Ivey and Fancy Skinner are locked in a price war." J.C. pulled a large handkerchief from his hip pocket and wiped his face.

    "A price war?" asked Father Tim.

    "Head to head, you might say. Fancy had this big sign painted and put in her window upstairs, said, Haircuts Twelve Dollars, All Welcome. First thing you know, Joe puts a sign downstairs, says, Haircuts Eleven Dollars."

    Joe Ivey's one-chair barbershop was located in a former storage room behind the kitchen of his sister's Sweet Stuff Bakery. The only other game in town was Fancy Skinner's unisex hair salon, A Cut Above, which rented the upstairs area over the bakery. "Poetic irony," is what one Grill customer called the arrangement.

    "So Fancy cranks her price down to ten bucks and has her sign repainted. Then Joe drops his price, changes his sign, and gives me an ad that says, ‘Haircuts nine-fifty. Free chocolate chip cookie to every customer.’"

    "Cutthroat," said Percy.

    "I don't know where this'll end," said J.C., "but if you need a haircut, now's the time."

    "Happy birthday. Father Tim thought they should get to the point.

    "Right. Happy birthday!" said Percy. "You can be one of th' first to order offa my new menu."

    J.C. scowled. "I was used to the old menu."

    "This is my an' Velma's last year in this hole-in-th'-wall, I wanted to go out with a bang." Percy stepped to the counter and proudly removed three menus on which the ink was scarcely dry and handed them around. He thought the Wesley printer had come up with a great idea for this new batch—the cover showed the Grill motto set in green letters that were sort of swirling up, like steam, from a coffee mug: Eat here once and you'll be a regular.

    "Where's Mule at?" asked Percy.

    "Beats me," said Father Tim. "Probably getting a haircut."

    "So how old are you?" Percy wanted to know.

    J.C. grinned. "Fourteen goin' on fifteen is what Adele says."

    "Gag me with a forklift," said Mule, skidding into the booth. "He's fifty-six big ones, I know because I saw his driver's license when he wrote a check at Shoe Barn."

    "OK, give me your order and hop to it, Velma's havin' a perm down at Fancy's and I'm shorthanded. Free coffee in this booth, today only."

    "I don't want coffee," said Mule. "I was thinkin' more like sweet ice tea."

    "Coffee's free, tea's another deal."

    J.C. opened his menu, looking grim. "You spelled potato wrong!" he announced.

    "Where at?" asked Percy.

    "Right here where it says ‘tuna croissant with potatoe chips.’ There's no e in potato."

    "Since when?"

    "Since ever."

    Look who's talking, thought Father Tim.

    "I'll be darned," said Mule. "Taco salad! Can you sell taco salad in this town?"

    "Taco salad," muttered Percy, writing on his order pad.

    "Wait a minute, I didn't say I wanted taco salad, I was just discussin' it."

    "I don't have time for discussin'," said Percy. "I got a lunch crowd comin' in."

    Father Tim noticed Percy's face was turning beet-red. Blood pressure, the stress of a new menu ...

    "So what is a taco salad, anyway?" asked Mule.

    The Muse editor looked up in amazement. "Have you been livin' under a rock? Taco salad is salad in a taco, for Pete's sake."

    "No, it ain't," said Percy. "It's salad in a bowl with taco chips scattered on top."

    Mule sank back in the booth, looking depressed. "I'll have what I been havin' before th' new menu, a grilled pimiento cheese on white bread, hold th' mayo."

    "Do you see anything on this menu sayin' pimiento cheese? On this menu, we don't have pimiento cheese, we ain't goin' to get pimiento cheese, and that's th' end of it." The proprietor stomped away, looking disgusted.

    "You made him mad," said J.C., wiping his face with his handkerchief.

    "How can a man make a livin' without pimiento cheese on his menu?" Mule asked.

    "'Less you want to run down to th' tea shop and sit with th' women, there's nowhere else to eat lunch in this town ..."—J.C. poked the menu—"so you better pick something offa here. How about a fish burger? Lookit, ‘four ounces breaded and deep-fried haddock filet served on a grilled bun with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce.’"

    "I don't like tartar sauce."

    Father Tim thought he might slide to the floor and lie prostrate. "I'm having the chef's salad!" he announced, hoping to set an example.

    Mule looked relieved. "Fine, that's what I'll have." He drummed his fingers on the table. "On the other hand, you never know what's in a chef's salad when you deal with this chef."

    "I'm havin' th' tuna melt," said J.C., "plus th' fish burger and potato skins!"

    "Help yourself," said Mule. "Have whatever you want, it's on us." He peered intently at the menu. "‘Chili crowned with tortilla chips and cheese,’ that might be good."

    "Here he comes, make up your mind," snapped J.C.

    "I'll have th' chili deal," said Mule, declining eye contact with Percy. "But only if it comes without beans."

    Percy gave him a stony look. "How can you have chili without beans? That's like a cheeseburger without cheese."

    "Right," said J.C. "Or a BLT without bacon."

    Father Tim closed his eyes as if in prayer, feeling his blood sugar plummet into his loafers.

    So what are you doing these days?

    It was a casual and altogether harmless question, the sort of thing anyone might inquire of the retired. But he hated it. And now, on the heels of the very same question asked only yesterday by a former parishioner ...

    "So what'n th' dickens do you do all day?"

    Mule had left to show a house, J.C. had trudged upstairs to work on Monday's layout, and Percy stood beside the rear booth, squinting at him as if he were a beetle on a pin.

    After nearly four years of retirement, why hadn't he been able to formulate a pat answer? He usually reported that he supplied various churches here and there, which was true, of course, but it sounded lame. Indeed, he once said, without thinking, "Oh, nothing much." Upon hearing such foolishness out of his mouth, he felt covered with shame.

    In his opinion, God hadn't put anyone on earth to do "nothing much." Thus, in the first year following his interim at Whitecap, he'd given endless hours to the Wesley Children's Hospital, second only to the church as his favorite charitable institution. He had even agreed to do something he roundly despised: raise funds. To his amazement, he had actually raised some.

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide


Come away to Mitford, the small town that takes care of its own. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mitford is a crazy quilt of saints and sinners lovable eccentrics all. Seen through the eyes of Father Tim, the long-suffering Village Rector, Mitford abounds in both mysteries and miracles, compelling readers to return again and again to this beloved series.

In the tradition of James Herriot, Bailey White, and Garrison Keillor, author Jan Karon brilliantly captures the foibles and delights of a hilarious cast of characters.

Book VII: In In This Mountain, Father Tim, three years after his return from Whitecap, faces the stresses of retirement, and of a happy marriage to a famous author. Cynthia's new children's book wins a big award, makes headlines in the Mitford Muse, draws fans right into their backyard, and takes her on a nationwide tour. Distracted, even a little jealous, Father Tim in a careless moment seriously harms an old friend. When this happens, he himself slips into a depression that challenges his faith and undermines his healthwith disastrous consequences. But through it all, Father Tim continues to be surrounded by caring Mitfordians, whose efforts to help sometimes mean more to Father Tim than their off-the-wall efforts to cheer him up, especially those of Uncle Billy, who remains convinced that the right joke will do the trick.

Father Tim can't help but get involved in the lives around him. He encourages "The Man in the Attic," who has just been released from prison, as he begins a new life and a new job at Hope Winchester's bookstoreand watches as two lives are transformed. And he helps Dooley, now a college student and aspiring veterinarian, navigate the choppy waters of young love and stumbles upon an exciting but dangerous lead on his long-lost brother.

At sixty-nine, Father Tim has helped so many people discover a new lease on lifecan he find one, too? Will prayer, and an unexpected call to workplus his initiation by Emma Newland into the mysteries of e-mail!lead him out of this valley and onto the mountain top?


Jan Karon was born in Lenoir, North Carolina, in 1937 ("A great year for the Packard automobile," she says). Her creative skills first came alive when her family moved to a farm. "On the farm there is time to muse and dream," she says. "I am endlessly grateful I was reared in the country. As a young girl I couldn't wait to get off that farm, to go to Hollywood or New York. But living in those confined, bucolic circumstances was one of the best things that ever happened to me."

Jan knew that she wanted to be a writer, and even wrote a novel at the age of ten. Her first real opportunity as a writer came at age eighteen when she took a job as a receptionist at an ad agency. She kept leaving her writing on her boss's desk until he noticed her ability. Soon she was launched on a forty-year career in advertising. She won assignments in New York and San Francisco, numerous awards, and finally an executive position with a national agency.

Recently she left advertising to write books, and moved to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, a tiny town of 1,800 perched at 5,000 feet in the Blue Ridge mountains. "I immediately responded to the culture of village life," says Jan. "And I must say the people welcomed me. I have never felt so at home."

Blowing Rock is the model for Mitford, and the similarities are strong. "None of the people in Mitford are actually based upon anyone in Blowing Rock," says Jan. "Yet, the spirit of my characters is found throughout this real-life village. You can walk into Sonny's Grill in Blowing Rock and find the same kind of guys who hang around Mitford's Main Street Grill."

Jan is quick to assert that there are Mitfords all over the country, those hundreds of towns where readers of Jan's books cherish their own cast of eccentric and beloved characters. Currently, one of Jan's chief delights is getting to meet those readers. "Some people finish writing and open a bottle of scotch or a box of chocolates," she says. "My reward is meeting my readers face-to-face. I think an author is something like a glorified bartender. My readers tell me all kinds of things about their lives, and I get these long, long letters. I answer every one, of course."

Jan has a daughter, Candace Freeland, who is a photojournalist and musician.


You write about the small town of Mitford, yet haven't you spent most of your life in cities?

Until I was twelve I lived in the country, then I spent many years in cities. I think that I was born with a kind of deep affinity for the rural, the rustic. In addition, I'm very drawn to the pastoral novels of the English genre the village novel where a small group is used to paint a picture of a larger society.

I still have in me a great love for the agrarian for what this country was, for what we still are. People say, "Oh well, I guess there's no such thing as Mitford." Well, the good news is there are Mitfords all over the country, and there are still great stretches of open land and pastures and meadows and fields. It's not all bad news. There's so much left of this country that is reasonable and moral and strong. And that's the part I relate to.

You've often said how important a rural upbringing was for you. How has it influenced your writing?

On the farm there were long passages of time in which to observe. The senses are very important to me, and I try to bring the experience of the senses into my writing. And life on the farm is very graphic. Calves are dropped, colts are foaled, manure lies steaming in the sun. It's the bottom line of what life is about.

Mitford is packed with delightful characters like Dooley, Miss Rose, Emma, Miss Sadie, and Homeless Hobbes. Where do they all come from?

Darned if I know. My characters walk in and introduce themselves to me and I'm stuck with them. When I first moved to Blowing Rock to write a book, I struggled hard to write according to the outline I came here with, but the book never worked. The characters never got off the page. That was a real defeat for me. "Woman's dream turns to nightmare," I thought. "I don't know how to write a book!"

Then one night in my mind's eye I saw an Episcopal priest walking down the street. I decided to follow him and see where he went. Well, he went to a dog named Barnabas, they went to a boy named Dooley, and the story unfolded before me. Instead of me driving the story, the story began to drive me! I got interested, wrote a couple of chapters, and there you have it.

How much do you personally relate to Father Tim? Are you very much like him?

Father Tim's personality is far more conservative than mine, but like Father Tim, I don't know a great deal about having fun. If I get dragged into it, I can always enjoy it, but it's hard for me to go out and find it on my own. And of course we both share a faith. My books are formed on my connection to God. That's the seasoning in the stew.

How would you describe the nature of that faith?

In my books I try to depict not a glorious faith with celestial fireworks, but a daily faith, a routine faith, a seven-days-a-week faith. Father Tim's faith is part of his everyday life. He has simple prayers, not polished, pious prayers. He follows the Apostle Paul's command that we pray without ceasing. I try to depict how our faith may be woven into our daily life, like brandy poured into coffee. I believe that spirituality needs to be basic, common, everyday.

Father Tim seems in the thick of things whether he wants to be or not. How does this affect him?

In the first book, At Home in Mitford, he lived a very quiet life. In the subsequent books we are able to see far more of Father Tim's humanity because he is surrounded by people. That means that his heart is going to be broken and his patience is going to be stretched all of the things that happen when we get involved with other people. This has made him a much more human figure.

Father Tim is very heroic but he does grand things in such a quiet way that he doesn't assume the proportions of a hero. I think Father Tim is somebody who's into recycling and restoring people. It comes from two places inside of him. First of all, it comes from that place where he was so deeply wounded in his relationship with his father. He is in a sense recycling himself; he's still trying to heal himself. And second, he operates on the fuel, the steam that comes from his relationship with Jesus Christ. But he's definitely into reclamation, recycling, helping people find the way which is what Jesus is all about. So I suppose that Father Tim is a type of Christ figure not just because he is a preacher but because of the way he is constructed.

In Out to Canaan, Father Tim lives in a chaotic household. Did you grow up in such a household?

No, I didn't. I've lived a fairly ordered life. Being a writer requires a lot of solitude. I've not lived like that, but I've always looked toward those households with a certain longing.

Where do you write?

My studio stretches across the back of my little house. It has eight windows that look out on a copse of trees. I can see the blue outline of the mountains in the distance. Where I write is exceedingly important to me. I am never comfortable unless I am in a room that pleases me. I need the pictures on the wall to be hanging straight. I have to do my housekeeping before I can sit down at the computer. Things need to be in order in my mind and in the place where I write. In recent months my life has been topsy-turvy. I have learned to write with utter chaos all around me. I turn to my book with great intensity. Sometimes I may write twelve hours a day. Sometimes I can write only two hours a day.

Do you have any conscious technique that so effectively makes Mitford come alive for people?

I grew up in the era of radio. When you turned on the radio, you heard the voices and you filled in all the blanks. Radio helped me become a writer. Television would never help me become a writer. With radio you have to color in everything. What you need to do for readers is give them as much free rein as they can take. Let them participate in the story by building their own imagery.

So conversations and characters bear the burden of telling the story?

My books are about relationships. With rare exceptions, the scenes are all one-on-one relationships: Father Tim and Dooley, Father Tim and Cynthia, Father Tim and Emma. There are times when I step away to the Grill where three or four people are in a relationship. Basically, I try not to waste the reader's time with descriptive narrative, details of what people are wearing, how they look, how tall they are.

You seem to have a lot of lovable eccentrics in your books. Are you attracted to unusual people?

I see everyone as unusual. Most everyone seems to have an extraordinary life story. "I just love people," was my grandmother's saying. Casting the writer's light on ordinary people makes them appear extraordinary.


  1. When Father Tim neglects his health, it impacts not only himself but his wife, his friends, and his plans for a new mission. Is taking care of ourselves a responsibility to others? How can we balance our commitments with what we can realistically manage?
  2. Father Tim is deeply torn between his need for Cynthia's presence and his concern that she not miss her thrilling trip to New York. What are some other examples of mixed feelings that haunt even the best marriages?
  3. Mitford's longtime rector remembers how writing has helped him with unhappiness in the past. Have you tried that? What kinds of things would you write in a journal, an essay, or a story? Have you suffered depression, or cared for someone who did?
  4. A year's ministry with Appalachian children could be, Father Tim feels, his legacy to the future. What do you hope to bequeath to generations to come?
  5. When George Gaynor arrives in Mitford, several characters see a dilemma in the employment of an ex-con. Was it a wise decision? What are the arguments for and against?
  6. Discuss how Hélène Pringle and Hope Winchester are guided to Lord's Chapel. How often does this happen through other people, and how often is it a direct revelation from God?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 57 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2005

    Me and Mom

    This is a wonderful book. It is spiritual withoug pushing a certain doctrine. Following the story of Father Tim, Cynthia and Barnabas keeps me coming back for more. My mother-in-law recently moved to a nursing home. To keep her mind coherent, I started having her read the Mitford books. I stay one book behind her so that we do not have to share the same book at the same time. She is loving each one, as I am, and she will be starting book 6 very soon. She reads on an average of one book per week. It is such a blessing to have something so wonderful to share with one another.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2002

    Enough of Uncle Billy Already

    I read the first five books and enjoyed them so very much. I was looking forward to A Common Life, which was a disappointing rehash and left me with the feeling that it was just dashed off to fill some time before In This Mountain. In fact, I felt so ripped off that I debated even buying the latest one that was due out in May this year. Now I am sorry I was able to overcome that feeliing and bought the book. Uncle Billy is a great character, but enough already with the jokes. The whole thing about Edith was so over the top and silly it made me feel like since she had brought her into the story line in the first place, Jan needed to find a way to get rid of her. Unfortunately, she is ridding herself of some faithful readers also. Here we have such an incredible insightful, intelligent preacher, who has already weathered an attack with his diabetes and doesn't recognize any of these signs and almost kills someone? Come on. Dooley and Lace news would have been fun and interesting. But finding the rest of the kids seems silly. The Grill is always a fun place to visit. We even thought maybe we'd get a new line going with the whole bookseller/excon thing, but that ended abruptly. Please spare me and my purse another round! I enjoyed the first five so much that I have purchased the whole set of five several times over for friends. But only the first five.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2007

    Great audio book!

    This is my first Jan Karon book and I absolutely loved it! I listened to the entire book on CD twice over before deciding to send it on to my almost-93-year-old Dad, who can't see well enough to read anymore. I know he will really enjoy this one! I liked it so well, and liked the audio version so well that I have ordered 5 more of Jan Karon's Mitford books on CD with the same narrator. You will really get into Fr. Tim's story. Jan Karon is a wonderful storyteller who really brings the various characters to life! I listen to and read 60 to 80 books a year and read a wide variety. Jan Karon will bring you home to a very comfortable and amusing place. Mitford is a great town and I want to learn more about it's residents in the other Mitford books. If you enjoy chuckling over a book, this one will really get your happy juices flowing!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2005


    I can't wait to get the next book in the series. I love Father Tim and the wonderful town of Mitford. Jan Karon,you are great and keep writing your down to earth novels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2004

    The best books of all

    I have read all of the Mitford series books, they are the best books ever! They make you laugh and cry at the same time. I would love to live in a town just like Mitford. I wish Jan would write another series of books like these. You can't wait to get pick up that book and start reading again. You feel like you know these people. Jan you are the best writer ever.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2004

    Hook, line and sinker!

    This was my first read of the Mitford series and I was so taken that I turned around and bought the first six books just to find out how we got to that point! Whether living in a big city or a small town, I have known ( and continue to know!) the people of Mitford. It is the best easy read I have had in a long time!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2003

    I fell in love with this series

    Thank you so much Jan Karon. I loved every word. I was first introduced to your work by a librarian this summer and I would take 4 of the books at one time just to make sure I had the next book. Now I am up to Ester's Gift. I have no idea where everything will go in the sweet little town with the Pastor with doubts and all the personalities warts and all. I am kind of in limbo waiting to hear from Mitford again. Thank you Jan Karon. Every day I read the books I read quotes from the Bible and found out that everyone has questions and doubts no matter who they are.Thanks again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2002

    In This Mountain

    How refreshing to read an excellent story that is wholesome, clean and uplifting! I can only spare a few moments a day to read, so it is nice when I can find something inspiring that leaves me feeling refreshed! Thanks, Jan!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2002

    Not her best work

    If you love the Mitford series as much as I have in the past, you will disapointed with this book. Nothing ever really happens and there is really no plot. It also has a lot more scripture than the other books and comes off much more very preachy. It is an okay read but not the author's best work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2002

    Jan Karon Puts A Smile In Your Heart

    Simply put, Jan Karon puts a smile in your heart. Her stories are warm and uplifting, and take you to a place where simple pleasures are enjoyed. Reminds me of writing by Kirk Martin in an incredible new book, Shade of the Maple. Very powerful ending that reinforces the honor of commitment and moves you to hopeful tears! Both authors seem to have an inspirational flair to their writing that is wholesome and uplifting. I always look forward to more from Jan Karon!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2002


    The seventh book in the popular Mitford Years series returns fans to peace, comfort and serenity despite obstacles. John McDonough, known to many as Captain Kangaroo on the Fox Family Channel's 'The All New Captain Kangaroo,' turns in a measured and understanding reading, investing characters with authenticity. It has been over three years since the beloved cleric, Father Tim Kavanaugh, and his wife, Cynthia, have returned to Mitford. For Father Tim it is a time of introspection as his 70th birthday approaches. He, unfortunately, reaches some painful decisions about his career while Cynthia seemingly flourishes professionally. Favorite characters from past Mitford books abound: Dooley Barlowe finds romance and his life's work as a veterinarian; duck for cover as there's a haircut war between barber and hair stylist; and there's an updated menu over at the Main Street Grill. Karon hasn't lost her touch at creating characters we'd love to know. Readers of her previous Mitford books will find these pages populated with friends, and listeners will be beguiled by the voice of John McDonough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2002

    'Is it a Mountain or a Mole Hill?'

    I have patiently waited for the next installment that would pick-up where 'A New Song' left off. While some people were critical of the brevity of the 'Mitford Snowmen' and asking why re-hash everything in 'A Common Life' I thoroughly enjoyed them for what they were. I was in total agreement with Ms. Karon when she said the Mitford Snowmen was a delicious dessert. As for A Common Life I was most appreciative of her filling in the blanks. My first Jan Karaon read was 'A New Song' and she had me hooked. I have read and re-read each of the Mitford Books at least twice so I am having difficulty with how 'In This Mountain' has left me feeling because I don't know who has disappointed me. Was it my own doing because in my eagerness for the 'rest of the story' I read the book in a few short hours or was it due to the high expectations we all have of an author who never seems to miss her mark. Yes, Ms. Karon provided us with updates and she does show us once more that all things are possible if you only believe. The problem is I wanted to feel the way I did afer reading the other Mitford books and it just didn't happen. If this were the first Jan Karon book I were to read, I doubt I would have bothered to read another. In fairness to both the author and myself I am going to re-read 'In This Mountain'. Perhaps it was my frame of mind OR perhaps this is how Ms. Karon wanted us to feel??? If the latter is the case, I certainly wasn't expecting it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2002

    Good, but the earlier ones were better

    Good writing, but very heavy on the Christian preachy aspects. The characters are great though, both the good guys and the bad ones, such as Edith Mallory. I won't reveal the ending but poor Edith gets her comeuppance and then some. You almost feel sorry for her.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    The kit


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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2013

    I have read all of Jan Karon Mitford, Father Tim and all other e

    I have read all of Jan Karon Mitford, Father Tim and all other extra books.  I love them all and am on my second time reading them.  If you love to read, take time to read these incredibly well written books.  It is definately worth the time, it will transport you to another place and make you feel welcome.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012



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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    loved it!

    Number 7 in the series and hated to see it end. Now to order the next one..... Jan Karon is an excellent writer and holds my interest from beginning to end. I feel like I know all these characters.

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  • Posted December 16, 2011

    this was the second time I read it- It is a great book

    I loved all of her mitford series books-read them all as books and now have read them as color nook-

    May be a little expensive for a second reading, but I enjoyed them

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Read Then All!! An adventure indeed!

    I LOVE the entire Mitford Series, and wish the story would go on and on. I will be sad when I come to the end.....I hope not because of a sad ending, but because I will be wanting more. The characters have become like friends that I have known forever.

    I read one from Jan's Father Tim series also, while awaiting another of Mitford, and will read all of those also.

    These are my very favorite stories ever, and I am a senior citizen, so have read a lot!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2005

    Mitford is a Town I Would love to Live In

    All the Mitford series books are very good. Who knew I could totally relate to an eldery, retired priest? I cannot wait for Light in Heaven.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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