Review: At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

Combining the stellar script-adaptation skills of award-winning writer Paul McCusker with the best-selling novel by Jan Karon, Radio Theatre’s At Home in Mitford will leave listeners longing for more. Enter the world of Mitford, and you won’t want to leave.

It’s easy to feel at home in Mitford. In these high, green hills, the air is pure, the village is charming, and the people are generally lovable. Yet, Father Tim, the bachelor rector, wants something more. Enter a dog the size of a sofa who moves in and won’t go away. Add an attractive neighbor who begins wearing a path through the hedge. Now, stir in a lovable but unloved boy, a mystifying jewel theft, and a secret that’s sixty years old. Suddenly, Father Tim gets more than he bargained for. And readers get a rich, provincial comedy in which mysteries and miracles abound.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon. Book # 1 in the Mitford Years series. My edition is the audio cassette radio drama that had a full cast narrating the series. Adapted for radio drama by Paul McCusker. 6 hours and 36 mins, unabridged. Published by Tyndale Entertainment, 2003. Book was originally published October 1994.

If you read a lot of my reviews, right now you might be thinking, what the hell??? This doesn’t sound like something I would normally read. Well, it’s not! I am very much NOT a religious person. I just don’t care for any type of religion. Never have. So naturally, christian fiction is not very high on my to read list. In fact, it is something I have never read before. That is exactly why I read it.

I am working on the Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge, and one of the challenge prompts is Genre Explorer: Read a book from a genre you’ve never read before. Every reader has their comfort zones, where they have certain themes and genres that they stick too. But when you consistently read a LOT, it can be hard to find a genre you haven’t at least checked out once or twice. After thinking on this prompt for a few days, I realized that there were two genres that I have never read and usually just run away screaming from – christian fiction and westerns. I thought long and hard about which one I wanted to tackle. On one hand, I can’t stand religion, but on the other hand, westerns make my eyes glaze over. So which one to go with? Hmmm… In the end I decided that I just can’t get motivated to read a western. D: I’m sure there are really good ones out there, but I just didn’t want to deal with trying to find one right now. >.> I mean… summer is only so long, you know?

So I knew going in to At Home at Mitford, that it was going to be a feel good type book. It was. It felt like a lifetime movie or something similar to that. There was very little tension. What tension was there, you knew it was going to turn out alright at the end. Most of the tension was centered around the main character’s health and relationships with his neighbor and a small (annoying) boy who ended up staying with him while his grandfather was sick. Father Tim really struggled with feeling tired and taking care of his health. He also struggled with if he should go out with his neighbor, feeling afraid that it might distract him too much from his work and studies with the lord. There wasn’t very much suspense with the life in Mitford. It wasn’t bad…. and I get the appeal of a book that has no stress or tension. I get that some people really like that and that it makes them smile. I personally kind of felt bored by it. But that is just me. I don’t want to read a slice of life book that does the same mundane things I do in the real world. I want something different then what I see every single day. There were a few mysteries or problems, but they felt very much like a regular life sort of problem, but with a lot of prays and an easily obtained solution. Not bad. Just too easy and laid back. So…………….. wholesome. o.O I mean, I’m not saying throw a serial killer or a swarm of radioactive man eating butterflies (although, that would have been MUCH more up my alley!) into the mix or anything, but damn, it sure is nice to live in a place where nothing too serious happens. Again, I want to stay that 1.) my favorite genre is horror and 2.) I get that this appeals to people who want a happy uplifting story to have the feels about and also 3.) this is not a BAD book, it’s just not for me.

We see a whole year in the life of Father Tim. Honestly, I didn’t really care for the way this book was written. Because of it being 1 full year in his life, it feels like a lot of little scenes put together to make the year, with none of the little scenes getting a lot of depth or details. Yes, it told an over all story, true, but… I don’t know… all of the little scenes were just a few mins long. No really long events. No really long conversations. You don’t even see a full day. I don’t know… it felt like I had an abridged version when I did not. I think this format was used just to introduce us to the whole town quickly in order to set up foundation for the series…? I just didn’t like it because, yes, it introduced us to everyone, but I felt like I didn’t really get to know anyone that well yet also at the same time kind of tossing their problems in our face…. :/ I would have loved to see the author focus on a few people at a time and really get to know them before branching out to so many other characters. Yes, it’s a book 1 and not every detail of a character is going to get resolved right away, but you have to give us something that draws us to the characters and I just didn’t feel much of that.

I did not hate At Home in Mitford. But. I didn’t really feel drawn in to the story either. I was hooked enough to want to finish the story, and I have no regrets about reading it, but I’m not really hooked enough to read any of the other books in the series.. I’m sure they are good, but… I just didn’t really take to Mitford.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s