Light from Heaven (Mitford Series #9)

Light from Heaven (Mitford Series #9)

by Jan Karon

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143037705
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/31/2006
Series: Mitford Series , #9
Edition description: Reprint Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 67,524
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.75(d)

About 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."

Hometown:

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Date of Birth:

1937

Place of Birth:

Lenoir, North Carolina

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Light from Heaven"
by .
Copyright © 2006 Jan Karon.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

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 IX: As Light from Heaven opens, Father Tim Kavanagh still isn’t taking kindly to retirement. Even though being in a new environment like Meadowgate Farms is a breath of fresh air, he still feels like life is passing him by. So when Bishop Cullen at last reveals Father Tim’s new assignment, he is ready to jump in with both feet. But getting Holy Trinity, the long-neglected mountain chapel, up and running is sure to be more work than he can say grace over—especially since a new deadline will make it nearly impossible for Cynthia to help.

But Father Tim’s prayers are heard and answered in the form of Agnes Merton and her son, Clarence. Over the years, they have kept Holy Trinity in remarkably good shape. Other than a few broken windows and a minor amount of vandalism, the chapel is ready to open its doors to worshippers. So with Agnes along for the ride, Father Tim pulls together a hungry and imperfect congregation.

Shining brighter than ever and buoyed by his new calling, Father Tim is a beacon of faith not only for his new flock, but also for the beloved citizens of Mitford and, once again, for a child desperate for the warmth of a loving home. And as spring finally takes root in the mountains, God makes His presence known in daily miracles small and large. Grieving hearts are soothed with laughter. A young woman is healed. A wayward soul finds the acceptance he has so desperately sought. And a simple truth emerges from an unexpected source: indeed, God is good.


ABOUT JAN KARON

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.


AN INTERVIEW WITH JAN KARON

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.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  1. Father Tim has rather unsavory encounter with a man who’s set up rustic housekeeping on Meadowgate Farm. Were you surprised at the way Father Tim treated the trespasser? When is a person beyond forgiveness? On their second chance? Third? Fourth? What are some actions that are, despite Jesus’s teachings, unforgivable by mere humans?
     
  2. The Flower sisters are an interesting group to say the least. What are the commonalities you share with your siblings or other close family members? And what differences?
     
  3. There are examples in Light from Heaven of people dealing with grief in unexpected ways. Father Tim hopes a series of jokes will make the perfect eulogy. Esther Bolick throws herself into baking to help her through the grieving process. What interesting sendoffs have you seen in your own life for departed friends or loved ones? Do you have unusual ways of dealing with sadness?
     
  4. Do you think Sammy is going to become as well-adjusted as Dooley? Why? How are the two brothers similar? How are they different?
     
  5. Cynthia always has an answer to the question “what don’t you love?” Make a list of things you don’t love. Now do the same with things you do love. Which list is longer? Which was easier to compile?
     
  6. Louella tells a story about her and Miss Sadie’s brief quarrel over a box of chocolates. Miss Sadie wants to save them but decides it would be better to go ahead and enjoy them. What treats or special experiences in your life have you saved for a later time, only to wish, when the time comes, that you had gone ahead and enjoyed them sooner?
     
  7. Rooter wants to learn sign language so he can talk to Clarence. Using the Internet or a book, teach yourself a few signs to share with the group. Father Tim employs a similar strategy in his knack for talking to just about anyone on his or her own level. How is Father Tim different when talking to Agnes versus Jubal?

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Light from Heaven (Mitford Series #9) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have thoroughly loved the Mitford Series, but this finale was a HUGE disappointment. It was nearly impossible to read. I found myself skipping pages just to get through it. Just make up your own ending and don't bother with this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read the entire series, and thoroughly enjoyed the books, laughing out loud quite often as I read. I was disappointed in 'Light From Heaven', as chunks of time were left out, as well as leaving quite a few loose ends. I feel as though the author rushed through this book, not wanting to include details. I highly recommend the series to everyone, but don't get your hopes up for a grande finale!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've just started the book and I am immediately put off by ''Let us then be up and doing,'' he quoted from Wordsworth, ''with a heart for any fate!' Father Tim is supposed to be an expert on Wordsworth. He should know that quotation is from Longfellow...'The Psalm of Life.' Karon should have checked it. And her editor should have known better. Perhaps they will correct it before the next printing
Anonymous 23 days ago
Wonderful
karriethelibrarian on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I couldn't wait to read this final book in the Mitford Series. I waited with anticipation to read how Dooley was going to handle being a millionaire, and true to form, Jan Karon wrote his story with grace and generosity.I'll miss this group of lovely people, who, after listening to the entire series, have become my family of sorts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JanMarieIN More than 1 year ago
This story is as excellent as the whole series of Father Tim books are. They are very well written - make one feel as if one is a part of the story and are very uplifting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
novel you do not need to hide from your minister the writing and plotting are more creative writing evening class and rambkes all over the place. the constant descriptions of his medical problem since the first books is more than tedious and one wonders why author continues with it . Pleasant stories but blurbs make them sound like Book of Midford
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book,reminded me of the Anglican church I grew up in. I've already recommended it to a couple of friends and yes I will definitely buy more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters are quirky and interesting. Lovely stories.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
these books are heart warrming and enjoyable .father tim and his parish along with his family just keeps you going to the next book wondering what will happen next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
an only hope my firend Jan (I've never met her, but she has established our friendship from the very first book I read.) I can only hope she will continue her Father Tim Series. Her characters are exquistedly defined in the story line! Thank you, Jan!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I have the previous 8 in this series. They are very uplifting.
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