Friday, December 18, 2020

Perennial Jan Karon Favourites at Christmas



"Snow is falling and
books are calling"


It's really starting to feel like Christmas around here. As I write, it has been snowing all day....do you see the smile on my face? Frosty outside, it's cozy inside. Festive music plays on the radio, and beribboned presents mysteriously appear under the tree. I'll show pictures but not today. Today, I want to talk about books from my bookshelf, to add to the series I started back in March when the world went into lockdown.

When it comes to Christmas reading, I turn to this delightful quartet of Jan Karon stories to help set the tone and while away the days of Advent. As one book release put it, "If you've ever been to Mitford in Jan Karon's novels, you know it's the perfect place to visit at Christmas." Truly!

I have loved Jan Karon's bestselling books ever since discovering them back in 1998. Not only are her novels gentle, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, they are always lifegiving without being didactic or preachy—even though her key character is a kindly Episcopal priest. Jan Karon's life as a writer has been an inspiration to me in my own writing pursuits. I refer to her in a recent guest post HERE, if you haven't seen it.

I'm including today's post in my series Pressing My Books Into Service. I hope you enjoy.

 

The Mitford Snowmen

by Jan Karon
2001

This stocking stuffer sized storybook is filled with seasonal fun when a snowfall brings Mitford's citizens out on Main Street where a snowman building contest ensues. The competition is on. Whose creation will win the prize in the First Annual Snowman Jubilee? What's the prize, Uncle Billy wonders. According to Father Tim, it's doughnuts. "Plain or glazed?"


by Jan Karon
Illustrations by Donna Kae Nelson
2002

In this beautifully illustrated gift book, Esther Bolick is in the holiday spirit and begins dreaming about baking her famous orange marmalade cakes for Christmas giving. When her husband calculates the cost per cake, Esther is astounded. Is it worth spending so much money on people who haven't always measured up to her expectations? Then words from a Christmas carol play in her mind, reminding her about what gifts really mean.


by Jan Karon
2003

Father Tim finds a derelict nativity scene that has suffered the indignities of time and neglect. He imagines the excitement in the eyes of his wife, Cynthia, and decides to undertake the daunting task of restoring it. A bigger commitment than first anticipated, time slips away, and Tim is tempted to hurry the project along—maybe use a bigger paintbrush—but in the end he realizes he wants to give this gift his best effort, his deepest concentration, and his whole heart.

This novel was published the same year my dear dad passed away just days before Christmas. My darling husband knew I loved Jan Karon's novels and made sure this book was under the Christmas tree. Little did he know how much comfort this gentle, hopeful story brought to a grieving daughter's heart. It grounded me during a time when the cornerstone of our family had been torn from our lives.

Shepherds Abiding is now a cherished old friend, and as I prepare my home for the holiday, I let the beautifully crafted slow build-up create a quiet but eager anticipation in my own heart. 



Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

by Jan Karon
2014

After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with Cynthia his wife from the land of his Irish ancestors. He is glad to be back home in Mitford, but something is definitely missing from his life: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he realizes he doesn’t want it. Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is not a Christmas novel per se, but the reader will find herself propelled towards the holy season as the story unfolds like an Advent calendar, with lovely new surprises in every chapter. Each time I read this now seasonal favourite, my soul comes away nourished and satisfied.

* * *

" No man can be called friendless who has
God and the companionship of good books. "
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

Christmas presents for the heart—that is how I'd describe them. If you're missing your family this Covid-spackled Christmas, why not join the convivial Mitford family? You'll be welcomed into the fold, and when you arrive at the last page of any of these tales, you'll feel in your heart that you've had Christmas.


So.... that's my gift to you on this last Friday before Christmas.
Wishing you a beautiful day. Please stay safe.

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
♥♥♥





15 comments:

  1. I too enjoy Jan Karon's writing. When I finished the original group of the Mitford Series, I was sad, because I felt I had to move away and never see my friends again. I felt like I lived in Mitford!

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  2. I love visiting Mitford, especially at Christmas. Reading your blog today has brought more Christmas to my heart. Thank you for the beautiful words and Christmassy photos. ☺️❤️

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  3. I love Jan Karon's books! I just started re-reading Shepherds Abiding this morning. I have a little set of Mitford snowmen that I bought several years ago. At the time, I didn't even realize that there was a book about them. They stay sitting in my china cabinet year round where I can see their cute little faces.

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  4. She's one of my favorite writers! I re-read all her books AGAIN when I had COVID in July. They never get old for me. Love this post.

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  5. We always said that we really wanted to live in Mitford. Such a joy to go back over the stories.

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  6. Love Jan Karon and Mitford. The stories are healing balm for the soul!

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  7. Mitford is such a lovely place to visit. I always come away feeling better.

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  8. Thanks for all the tips on the wonderful books, Brenda. You have some good ones! Thanks, too, for stopping by Writing Straight from the Heart and commenting. Love it when you visit. Have a blessed weekend. Hugs. Susan

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  9. I love all the Mitford books!

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  10. I have the Mitford Snowmen on my coffee table right now...it looks so festive. These are some of my favorite books! holiday hugs!

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  11. I love Jan Karon's writing. "Shepherds Abiding" is a favorite that I enjoy each year. Brenda, know I wish you and yours a beautiful Christmas and I thank you for your lovely blog. It is a gift.

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  12. Beautiful thoughts. I've read the first couple books but I'd like to read the whole series. I am hoping to purchase the series next year!

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  13. Jan Karon has been a favorite author since I read the very first book in the Mitford series! I have found it particularly comforting to reread her novels during these months of staying safe at home! Your review of these four books would encourage others to read them as well.

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  14. Thank you for the book recommendations, Brenda!

    I got a Kobo reader as an early Christmas gift so I'll have to see if my local library carries the e-books!

    Merry Christmas!

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  15. Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is my very favorite Karon novel! I'm part of a FB group called Mitford Book Club. Mary Jo Tate is the very knowledgeable administrator and a friend of Jan's, just in case you're interested. Merry Christmas, Brenda!

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To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xox

PS. I do not always comment here, but I do look forward to coming and visiting you....