06 Jun Come Rain or Come Shine
Come Rain or Come Shine: A Mitford Novel
By: Jan Karon
Don’t you adore books in series? I love getting to know a set of characters well and sharing in their adversities and adventures over a prolonged time-frame. One of my ultimate favorite series is Mitford by Jan Karon and I am eager to share its latest edition with you.
Jan Karon is renowned for her warm and cozy Christian tales, set in Mitford, a fictional town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The series begins with At Home in Mitford (1994), which introduces the town and its folksy inhabitants and tracks the life and times of Timothy Kavanaugh. Father Tim is a flawed but wise and kindhearted gentleman who also happens to be an Episcopal Priest. If you haven’t read the earlier installments, I recommend doing so before delving into Karon’s latest Mitford story, Come Rain or Come Shine (2015). I recently listened the audio and was once again ensconced in the activities of the local community along with Father Tim, now a semi-retired septuagenarian, and his delightful wife Cynthia. Narrator, John McDonough, does a stellar job bringing the characters to life vocally, a tall order with the bevy of characters and the regional dialect Karon employs.
The focus this time ’round is on the couple’s adopted son Dooley Barlowe Kavanaugh and Lace Turner Harper, his betrothed. Despite enduring very rough beginnings, each has found the strength and courage to succeed. Both Dooley and Lace have benefitted from the care and nurturing bestowed by Father Tim, Cynthia, and other Mitford town-folk. Once abused and abandoned babes of the mountains, they have overcome their hard-scrabble origins and flourished. Dooley is finishing vet school and preparing to take charge of an existing small animal practice. Lace, a talented painter, has been teaching and creating fine art.
Based on their common backgrounds, Dooley and Lace understand each other well and eventually find the courage to open themselves to love and commitment. As the tale begins, they are preparing for their wedding – The Big Knot – soon to take place on Meadowgate Farm where they will make their home and build a life. We learn of secret challenges facing the young couple and unexpected opportunities that may be in store for them.
Most of the Karon’s loveable characters from her earlier books make an appearance in this installment, as the fun and the drama build to a crescendo on the wedding day. During the nuptial activities, some longstanding interpersonal issues find resolution as overdue apologies result in forgiveness and second chances. Karon weaves faith and spirituality into her work without being preachy or overbearing. She applies humor with a light hand and is a master of colloquial language, settings and attitudes.
When reading a Mitford story, I find myself wishing the place and its people exist in the real world – I’d seriously consider relocating! Although its inhabitants are imperfect and experience turmoil and strife, they stick together and work hard to support and uplift each other. Perhaps Karon’s legion of readers can carry a bit of Mitford away when we close the cover, and incorporate its gracious charm and enduring spirituality into our own lives!
Review By: Pam Lamberger