Friday, June 12, 2015

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good by Jan Karon

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good continues the gentle saga of Father Tim Kavanagh as he tries to find his niche after retiring from pastoring Lord's Chapel. His wife Cynthia suggests they rekindle their relationship by writing love letters. Her description of their marriage in one of these letters gives the book its title.

Unlike most modern authors who portray faith in fiction, Karon manages to portray Christianity without all the hokiness. Father Tim is not overly good or sweet. He's a man with doubts and weaknesses, but he humbly goes forward reaching out to those in Mitford who need help. He lives out the Abraham Verghese quote: "We are all fixing what is broken. It is the task of a lifetime." (p. 421) The folks in Mitford are at various stages of brokenness and healing, all in need of grace. But to keep things from getting too dismal, some of the characters are hilariously funny.

Karon is a lovely writer and although she may not have the depth and eloquence of Wendell Berry, but she does a darn good job of echoing his favorite theme: the healing power of community. More than once in the book Father Tim reflects on how they managed to have such "a big life in such a small town."

He flashed back to his days as a bachelor. So routine, so undisturbed by dissonance, one might have heard a pin drop in his life. Then a dog as big as a Buick started following him home, and then Dooley showed up, and then Puny came to work, and then Cynthia moved in next door, and then Puny started having twins, and that's how he ended up with a real life... (p. 204)

This is another lovely addition to the series.

Note: There are A LOT of people in the novel and it is helpful (but not essential) to have read the previous books. (I missed the two books previous to this one, but Karon does a good job of reminding the reader of back stories.)


Farm Girl said...

I have been such a fan of Mitford. I am behind though as I didn't care for the book about Ireland. So I just stopped. Reading those quotes sort of makes me miss Mitford. I liked what you said, about the broken people needing healing and grace. I think that is what I love about Jan Karon, is that part. Seeing people in that light.
I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Barbara H. said...

I love how Jan Karon expresses faith in her characters so beautifully and naturally. Not long ago I heard the term "gentle fiction" and I think that describes her books perfectly. Loved this one, especially since I had thought the Mitford books were done. There is supposed to be at least one more coming about Dooley's weeding.

I've not yet read Wendell Berry, but I have him on my TBR list.

annie said...

I loved this book, it was such a great finish to the series.
I didn't care for the Ireland book either, but with this one, it felt like going home.