In This Mountain (Mitford Series #7)by Jan Karon
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
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.
Read an Excerpt
In This Mountain
By Jan Karon
Copyright © 2002 Jan Karon.
All rights reserved.
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?"
"'Course, some say don't use it if you got dogs and cats. You got dogs and cats?"
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, buddydo 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 barefootand 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 batchthe 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."
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.
Excerpted from In This Mountain by Jan Karon. Copyright © 2002 by Jan Karon. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Meet the Author
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."
- Blowing Rock, North Carolina
- Date of Birth:
- Place of Birth:
- Lenoir, North Carolina
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!