2.10.2011

Book Review of Karon's In the Company of Others and WIP: Day 7

Here's my little review of Jan Karon's latest Father Tim book......


In the Company of Others is Jan Karon's latest installment in the very popular Mitford series. The series is based on the life of Father Tim, an Episcopal priest, living in a small town, "Mitford," in the mountains of North Carolina. Mitford (a fictitious town) is based on the real town of Blowing Rock, NC, which is a couple of hours from where I live, and one of my favorite little places to visit. Reading the books has been fun, because I can picture the scenes from Main Street in Blowing Rock, and I know that's what she had in mind when writing the books....

Anyway, in this latest book, Father Tim and his wife Cynthia have finally taken a long-awaited trip to Ireland. However, once they have settled in at a little B&B, Cynthia sprains her ankle. Her accident keeps them from their original sightseeing plans and ties them down to the B&B, as well as to its inhabitants and all of their problems and dramas...

The book is in keeping with the style and flavor of the rest of the series. Karon plays up the Irish dialect and colloquialisms, the quotes from ancient authors and poets, the quirky characters, etc. As usual, there are plenty of people in distress, and Father Tim and Cynthia do their best to help them all through their troubles.

Woven throughout the book are excerpts from an old journal which Father Tim and Cynthia are reading, written by a local doctor who had lived and worked in a neighboring house. So, Karon takes you back and forth between the modern story and the doctor's story. At the end, she brings the two stories together, with a few surprises....

A few cons:

Language: Maybe it's the way Irish people talk, but Karon's characters in this book take God's name in vain a lot throughout the book, which I don't really remember happening in any of the other books. She also has her characters, including Father Tim, use the word, "bl--dy," frequently throughout the story. Like most Americans, I used to think of that word as simply a colorful, "British-sounding" slang word.... However, when I travelled there during college, I learned that, in Great Britain, that word is actually their equivalent of the "f-word" and is extremely offensive. Knowing that, I found it a little unrealistic that people would be throwing it around in front of a visiting priest (or that he would be using it back to them!).

Theology: Rather than sharing the real Gospel with an elderly, bitter, angry lady, Father Tim tells her that she needs to "forgive herself" and "forgive God" for a terrible incident that happened earlier in her life. ACK! People do not have the authority or power to forgive themselves... Our sin is against God, and we must seek His forgiveness. We are completely incapable of forgiving our own sin.... And as for "forgiving God"??? Double ACK! If God needs forgiveness, then it implies that He is less than perfect, less than Holy, and capable of making mistakes or of sinning, which is completely blasphemous. I don't know Karon personally and don't know exactly what her beliefs are... but I found the "advice" her character giving more in keeping with the teachings of a modern secular psychologist rather than a true minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, that was disappointing.

Sappiness: I don't know if Karon is getting more sappy, or if I am getting less tolerant of sappiness in general... but the never-ending honeymoon-esque dialogue between Father Tim and Cynthia got to me a little bit. Maybe there are couples out there who quote poetry back and forth while gazing into each other's starry eyes and floating around on a cloud of bliss all day long, but I think the book (and their relationship) would seem a little more realistic if they occasionally got irriated at each other because she was nagging him or he wouldn't pick up his underwear off the floor or something, like normal human beings do. But maybe that's just me...

Final Verdict: I could go either way.
I'd say, add it to your beach reads, but if you've got a month left to live, read something more important.


And now, a little update on the mural...

Here's how it looked as of yesterday evening when I left it...


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Say hi to the newest kiddo...


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What he's doing here will eventually make sense, but for now, you'll just have to wonder... ;o)


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These poor children don't have faces, hair, shoes, or proper clothes. Hopefully I will get that taken care of today. For now, they're looking a little ghostly. But you can sort of see the process...


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Well, that's what I did yesterday.... and the robin DID insist on chirping all day long - again. So, you know what they say...


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If you can't beat 'em......


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I'll be back tomorrow with more pictures, as well as my Booking It review of The Mayflower Papers! Have a lovely day...
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2 comments:

  1. I'm new to your blog. Love what you said about the Father Tim book! Good insights... and so true.

    Love your mural.. coming along very well!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the mural...love the chatter (yours and the bird...and the squirrel). You look just like Mary Poppins!
    Love,
    me

    ReplyDelete

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