At Home in Mitford

by Jan Karon

Paperback, 1996

Call number




Penguin Books (1996), 446 pages


"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 comedy about ordinary people and their ordinary lives"--

User reviews

LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
I think these books are worth owning! I like them for a couple of reasons. First, there is a conspicuous presence of faith. Father Tim is honestly looking at all times to follow the Spirit, to live his faith. It's helpful to me to see that in action, because I so often don't actually live my faith.
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I just do my thing without turning to Him - and so I go everything alone instead of hand-in-hand with God. I also like these books because the characters are so likable and the stories are so down-to-earth. The first time I read this book it took me awhile to "get into it". The structure of the book with its short, seemingly unconnected scenes frustrated me at first. I wanted all those little conflicts resolved! But I really like the structure now - eventually everything comes together, but just like life, it takes faith! This first installment is the beginning of a life change for Father Tim and it is wonderful to see how he responds.
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LibraryThing member lit_chick
Book Summary: from
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.
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Add an attractive neighbour 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 comedy about ordinary people and their ordinary lives.

My Review:
I was easily charmed by the simplicity and integrity of Mitford and by its inhabitants – among them: Father Tim, Cynthia, Dooley, Miss Sadie, Hal, and of course the enormous, slobbery, and faithful Barnabas. These are ordinary people living ordinary lives – fine neighbours to a fault, working to enrich one another’s lives and their community. Karon’s storytelling is filled with the humour and heart-warming of human (and yes, animal) interaction.
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LibraryThing member universehall
The word that immediately came to mind after reading this book was "gentle". This is an extremely gentle read.

The story hinges around Father Tim, a kind-hearted Episcopalian Priest, whose quiet life is shaken up (in a gentle kind of way) by the happenings of his parish. If I tell you that there is
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illegitamacy, a jewel theft, and an abandoned child in this book - it will be true, and yet I suspect it will give you an entirely wrong impression about the pace and tone of this book. All of those things do feature in the story, but they are delicately handled - so delicately that they do not stop me from pronouncing this a "feel-good" read.

Mechanically speaking, I can tell you that the story is well-put-together, that the plot holds up, and that the writing style is quite smooth: Karon creates real characters in this book, not just characatures. At the end, you feel like you know them all.

But possibily the best thing about this book is that although the characters in it are kind, and things generally work out for the best - you still feel that it could all "really happen". You don't feel like the author is simply putting rose-colored glasses on your nose and showing you a world that could never TRULY exist. Instead, you are left feeling that - at least in some small way - there really is a Mitford out there.

And this is why I heartily applaud Jan Karon, and look forward to reading the next installment in this series.
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LibraryThing member lkernagh
Yes, I have finally gotten around to starting this series and I have to say, what a
charming, delightful series it is so far! Small town North Carolina is captured
beautifully in its scenery. This one is filled with charming home-grown characters lead by Father Tim, our lovable, affable rector of
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the Episcopalian Lord's Chapel who's job is very much about maintaining the fragile ecology of this small, close-knit parish on a daily basis as it is about delivering the Sunday service. In a town where opinions are rather freely expressed, and one never knows what is going to come around the next corner, it is easy to understand why there are days when Father Tim starts to think his little parish is rather an awful lot to stay on top of!

This story is a nicely balanced mix of religion, humour, romance, mystery, politics, crime and pretty much anything else that one might imagine. There is a warm feeling of family, friendship and community togetherness in this one that is as comforting as a slice of freshly baked apple pie on a cool autumn afternoon. This is also a great story to read intermittently. The chapters are divided into small sections for quick snatches of reading time and it doesn't take a lot of thought to get back up to speed with the story after an extended absence. The fact that the story is able to communicate so many religious values without being preachy is something that also impresses me.

An absolutely delightful read filled with wonderful characters.
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LibraryThing member Joycepa
At Home In Mitford
Jan Karon

Mitford is a small town set in the foothills of the North Carolina mountains. It’s setting is idyllic, yet the inhabitants somewhat less so. They’re quirky and cross-grained at times, though good-natured at heart (mostly).

Ditto for their episocpalian rector, Father
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Tim Kavanaugh. Sixty years old and a bachelor, Father Tim has ministered to the town’s inhabitants, whether members of his congregation or not, for 12 years. But Father Tim, as he is affectionately known, is not entirely happy with his life. While he loves his work, he has been considering, seriously, retiring from the ministry. Somehow life that is just work is just a little--empty.

There is an old saying--watch out for what you wish because you just might get it. And Father Tim does get it--in spades. First in the form of a monstrous black dog, more or less equal parts of Bouvier and sheepdog, who is unrestrained in his expressions of joy--sometimes dangerous, considering his favorite is to place both huge paws on the chest of his current target and wash the face enthusiastically. But Barnabas is not your ordinary dog--no, he is a dog who is so enamored of Scripture that upon recitation (Psalms seems to work best), Barnabas will immediately settle down with a sigh and attend soulfully.

Then there’s the question of Dooley Barlowe, an 11 year old with a mind of his own, grandson of the church’s sexton. Dooley has been more or less abandoned by his alcoholic mother and is “living” with his grandfather. When problems overtake his granddad, Dooley somehow winds up living with Father Tim--easily filling up any empty spaces Father Tim might have had left over after Barnabas.

The cast of characters from the town is rich, varied, and well developed. Karon’s writing is very good, and she does not spend time with sentimentality, which saves the novel from being banal. Which is good, because this novel is robustly Christian in outlook; Father Tim and the townspeople are not backward in expressing their belief in God and Jesus Christ and giving advice or comfort in that spirit and expression. BUT the book is not “preachy” and there is plenty of entertainment within. However, it’s well to understand that the Christian message is firmly embedded within the story. Indeed, the book could not exist without it. This is not religion in fiction; this is a fine example of religious fiction.

I was intrigued by this setting and Karon’s presentation because one of my very favorite mystery authors. Margaret Maron, sets her stories in North Carolina as well. The authors have much in common besides merely a one-letter difference in surnames. Both are women, both are natives of North Carolina, both have had sophisticated careers, both published within the same time frame (although Maron published earlier). But Maron’s stories take place in the lowlands, just an hour away from Raleigh-Durham. There is no question that while Deborah Knott’s family may be tobacco farmers and their wives, there is a sophistication in all the characters that probably can be laid to the proximity of the Research Triangle. Karon’s characters are by no means ignorant, but there is a simplicity of outlook and an intensity of religion that is mostly absent from Maron’s Knott series, even though Deborah and her family, Baptists, most certainly take their religion seriously. It’s fascinating to compare the two ouvres.

Highly recommended for those who either enjoy or are entertained by a vigorous presentation of Christianity.
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LibraryThing member mainrun
Took this on a plane. Couldn't get another book until it landed. Wasn't soon enough.
LibraryThing member maggie1944
A cozy read in which all the troubles are turned around; all the prayers are answered; and all the people are lovable in some way or other. No true tragedy is left without a silver lining. Normally I don't like this type of book, too sweet for me, but I'll confess I did grow fond of some of the
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characters and of course, since there was a dog, I had to like him!
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LibraryThing member marciathing
I thought this would be overly sweet sappy country christian romance but it actually was a nice interesting read, with mostly believable characters and events. Relaxing lack of adultery, drug use, sarcasm and skepticism presented as "normal" traits of modern people.
LibraryThing member page.fault
Having recently written a review dissing a Christian book, I felt the urge to even the's a Christian-outlook book I wholeheartedly recommend to believers and nonbelievers alike.

When I want something cozy, sweet, optimistic, and full of faith and love, I turn to the Mitford series. The
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story centers around an Episcopalian rector, Father Timothy Kavanaugh, and his congregation in the tiny rural town of Mitford, North Carolina. The plot is full of small-town doings: the abandoned dog who adopts Father Tim, his interactions with his new neighbor Cynthia and her cat, stories from an elderly member of the congregation, a recalcitrant boy that Father Tim has to look after, mysterious disappearances of food items from the's a comfortable slice of life from an almost unrealistically perfect town. There really aren't bad people in Mitford: there are tons of quirky characters and a few terrible deeds, but everyone can be saved and redeemed. The book is unabashedly Christian in outlook, but I never felt like it crossed over the preachiness line. Through Father Tim's ministry, Karon manages to give readers the first steps of accepting God into their lives, but (speaking as an agnostic here), it doesn't come across as judgmental or forceful. The writing style is perhaps a little basic and if you want a strong, tight plot this really isn't for you, but if you're looking for a comfort read, take a look at this book. Mitford is a place that I enjoy visiting again and again.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Simply delightful. If you are looking for a feel good book, this is it!
LibraryThing member ashleyludwig
I've read all of the Mitford series - again - another series that I came late to the party and now feel like the guest hunting around for more fritos.

I'd read anything Jan Karon writes about Father Tim, Cynthia, Dooley and the gang. I have the cook book - the gift books - the outer banks books.
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Who knew voyerism of a small town in North Carolina would be so fun? so interesting? so all encompasing?

Growing up in the Episcopal church was a rather dry experience for my young self. I only thought you could have a one-on-one relationship with God in a big, non-denominational setting. But after reading the Mitford books, I've come to realize it doesn't matter where you worship, or what prayers you repeat - it's what you feel in your heart.

Jan Karon has opened a window - and let sunlight and fresh air in for this reformed Episcopalean.
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LibraryThing member chosler
Episcopal rector tends to his loving and quirky parishioners in the quaint, cozy village of Mitford. Some action and mystery, but mostly character/dialog driven. Frequent use of the word “poop.”
LibraryThing member wingedpotato
This book is refreshment to the soul. I found it utterly delightful.
LibraryThing member kristenn
This was a gift and not at all the sort of thing I would usually ever read on my own, but it really wasn't bad. It was very cozy. Reminded me of All Creatures Great & Small. I kept expecting traumatic things to happen to the main characters and dark secrets to be uncovered bit no, not really. Also
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funnier than I expected. However, I then agreed to try the second book and had to give up about 1/5 in. Blech.
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LibraryThing member WintersRose
At Home in Mitford draws you in with its loveable Father Tim and its other more eccentric characters. Barnabas is a big black stray dog that that can only be controlled by quoted Scripture. He jumps on Father Tim for several days and then becomes part of his life. Emma is Father Tim's middle-aged
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secretary who butts in his personal life and surprises the priest one day by acquiring red hair and a fiance. There is a itinerant minister who lives in "the hollow" with his sister. There's the sophisticated antique store proprietor, Andrew, who is Father Tim's competition for the attentions of th priest's lovely new neighbor, Cynthia Coppersmith. And there's Dooley, a twelve year old "hillbilly" boy who moves into Father Tim's house and affections.
In addition to all these characters and more, Father Tim is dealing with the onset of diabetes and the realization that he has been running from rest. The gentle mystery of who has been stealing food from the church refrigerator is solved with a conversion. Other problems will continue into the next book in the series, problems such as how to provide free housing for Uncle Billy and Miss Rose, will Miss Sadie's plans to build a nursing home with her fortune materialize, and will Father Tim return from his forced vacation to Ireland to find his congregation scattered to the Baptists?
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LibraryThing member gmicksmith
I did not really see the draw in this work although I realize that it was popular with many folks. I did not find the traditional view of American life depicted here as all that charming.
LibraryThing member guiltfree
I started to read this book just to see what my friends had found so fascinating about the whole Mitford phenomenon. Before I had finished this first book, I knew I would have to read the entire series: I was hooked. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the characters of Mitford--the good, the not-so-good,
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the likeable, and the not-so-likeable. They renewed my hope and soothed my skeptical nature. All in all, a good, wholesome, rewarding read!
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LibraryThing member Jamis
At first, the book seemed sitcom-ish and very choppy--the frequent breaks and brief segments were hard for me to get used to. But either I got used to it, or Karon found her groove about halfway through, because from about that point on I really enjoyed the book.
LibraryThing member ckbrouwer
At Home in Mitford is uninspired and uninteresting. This book is dull, predictable and boring. I need a bit of action and some twists and turns to keep my interest and this is not that kind of book.
LibraryThing member ritaabook
I loved this book from start to finish! The characters were wonderful. They make you wish you could be part of the town. I love how Father Tim has so much compassion for his town and the people in it (most of the time.)
LibraryThing member karriethelibrarian
Sometimes a person needs a warm, comfy book to wrap themselves around, and this book will do the trick. It is the sweet tale of a middle-aged priest who falls in love for the first time in his life, and doesn't quite know how to handle it. The object of his affection is his neighbor, and she is as
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smitten with him as he is with her.

If you're looking for a sweet, gentle, happy love story, this is the book for you. After you read it, you'll want the second, the third and so on in this series.
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LibraryThing member dksthomson
In these rough and sometimes horrifying times we live in, this whole series is a WONDERFUL respite. I know it's cliche but the Mitford tales really do take me back to a simpler time aka "the good old days." I fell in love with all of the quirky characters and I'm sure you will too. I guess a series
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has to end sometime but I really hate to see "my" home in Mitford end. I hope Ms Karon reconsiders and can eke out a few more :-)
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LibraryThing member tramthum
I wish this series could go on forever. Everytime I finish a book in the series, I feel like I am saying good-bye to a group of friends. Jan Karon has the ability to make the reader feel as if they are part of the book
LibraryThing member Marliesd
Possibly THE corniest and nerdiest books on my shelf, but I love them! These also scare Jamie when he happens to overhear them in the car. Basically, the series is about a minister living in a small Southern town. Scary!
LibraryThing member tututhefirst
One of my top ten feel good books. The characters and setting are spot on, Fr. Tim is compassionate and lovable. At 60 years old, thinking himself a confirmed bachelor, he is confronted with sudden fatherhood in the person of a temporary foster child, and impending romance in the person of his new
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next-door neighbor. The story is well fleshed out, but leaves much room for the ensuing books in the series.

As many times as I have read or listened to this one (the audio is spectacular) I always find something new to take away. While many would consider it "religious", it is not at all preachy, and simply offers soothing life lessons and encouragement.
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014025448X / 9780140254488


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