Sunday, January 25, 2015

Home to Holly Springs (Father Tim, #1)Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While not technically one of the Mitford Series of books (it doesn't take place in Mitford) it follows directly after the events of Light from Heaven and it is still about the life of Fr. Tim Kavanaugh. In this book, Fr. Tim has received a cryptic two-word letter, postmarked from his boyhood home town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. The letter says "Come home" and nothing more. Feeling led by the Holy Spirit, Fr. Tim decides to drive down and investigate. His wife, Cynthia, has a broken ankle and cannot come, so he brings is loyal dog, Barnabas. While at Holly Springs he meets some new people (all very friendly) and manages to also contact some of the people he knew when he lived there. Naturally, his memories go back to his days growing up, and we get many flashbacks of his early life. While some of these are familiar from the other books, they are fleshed out more in this one, and there are many more flashbacks, filling us in on his childhood. Through the people he meets up with, including the author of the mysterious letter, we find out some jaw-dropping family history. I was absolutely stunned by a couple of the revelations. But they are not far-fetched, at all, even if they are somewhat shocking.

One of the things I have loved about these books is Fr. Tim's problematic relationship with his father. I like how he struggles with forgiveness, and is still longing to be loved by his father. We learn more about his father, coming to some understanding of why he was so cold to Tim. And one of the revelations I did not see coming! Fr. Tim will be processing what he now knows for quite some time - as will I!

The pacing of the book is excellent, with the flashbacks interspersed with the current action. The new characters are all quite believable, and as charming and idiosyncratic as those back in Mitford. Some of the revelations are pretty painful, however, so be warned. But, as with the other Mitford books, the overall tone of the book is one of love and hope.

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