Out to Canaan

by Jan Karon

Paperback, 1998

Call number




Penguin (1998), 342 pages


Fiction. Literature. HTML:Get to know the lovable cast of characters that populate the small town of Mitford in this inspirational novel in Jan Karon's #1 New York Times bestselling series. Millions of readers have come home to Mitford, the little town with the big heart, whose endearing and eccentric residents have become like family members. But now change is coming to the hamlet. Father Tim, the Episcopal rector, and his wife, Cynthia, are pondering retirement; a brash new mayoral candidate is calling for aggressive development; a suspicious realtor with plans for a health spa is eyeing the beloved house on the hill; and, worst of all, the Sweet Stuff Bakery may be closing. Meanwhile, ordinary people are leading the extraordinary lives that hundreds of thousands of readers have found so inviting and inspiring.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member lkernagh
I continue to enjoy Karon’s wonderful slice of American life. Mitford continues to charm me, with the affable and sometimes bumbling Father Tim, his practical and supportive wife Cynthia and the memorable characters that comprise the town’s citizens as a whole. The story this time focuses on
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the scramble of Father Tim’s approaching retirement, a mayoralty race that has the town folk buzzing with opinions, and other changes and challenges that one would expect to encounter in a sleepy, close-knit community. Easy reading to escape the reality busy work weeks, demanding deadlines and the never-ending crush of errands. It is great to “experience” Father Kavanagh’s charge, young Dooley Barlowe, growing up. I found the scene where Father Tim tries to explain the “birds and the bees” to Dooley to be a hoot, second only to Father Tim’s experiences getting haircuts – and a facial! – at the hands of the non-stop talking Fancy.

As with any series, a reader will get the most enjoyment by reading the books in series order. What not to like? Well, the only thing that is starting to wear a bit thin with me is how Father Tim calls his wife Cynthia “Kavanagh” whenever he praises or cajoles her. I realize that Father Tim is in his early 60’s and all, but I find it odd that the “pet” name that Karon has ascribed to Cynthia in the stories is Father Tim’s last name and not something that would be unique or specific to her. Let just say this makes my nose twitch as not something I would consider endearing if my other half started to refer to me by his last name in the same way as Father Tim does with Cynthia. Otherwise, another good visit to with the fine folks of Mitford.

Overall, looking forward to continuing the series.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
Mitford is like any small town in America, but Jan Karon has a way of bringing small-town characters into sharp focus, yet leaving them with their loveability. These books are not a gritty realism based story, but a story which looks for the good in people and accepts the rest as part of the
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package. I love all the bits and pieces of Mitford.
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LibraryThing member meyben
Father Tim finds himself involved in real estate, retirement and a mayoral election.
LibraryThing member SABC
Father Tim and his wife are pondering the uncertainties of retirement and the mysteries and miracles of the memorable small town of Mitford.
LibraryThing member Joycepa
The word is out--Father Tim is going to retire in 18 months. Bishop Stuart Cullen has made it official in a sermon in which he likened Father Tim’s retirement as an adventure equivalent to Abraham’s venture into Canaan. Suffused with goodwill from the sermon, at first the villagers congratulate
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Father Tim and wish him well. However, when reality sets in--there will be (unwelcome) change--the complaints start. No one wants to break in a new priest.

But over riding all other concerns is the upcoming mayoral election. Esther Cunningham has been mayor since Before The Flood; her motto might as well be Mitford’s--”Mitford takes care of its own”--and her platform of no development has been a popular one. The people of Mitford are also aware that Cunningham, despite her low key approach, has done a great deal of good for Mitford, among which has been a new ambulance.

But Mitch Stroupe is opposing Esther on a platform of change that will be good for Mitford--and he is spending a great deal of money. At first, all the old timers are opposed to Mitch. But then as time goes on, little by little, there’s a different sense--maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have a new mayor.

And thus the drama of the fourth book, high drama indeed. but as always, life is ordinary, laced with the little things both good and frustrating, and always the real issues--life and death--are present. And questions--and prayers--are not always answered.

This is a fine installment in the series, with all of Karon’s strengths: fine writing, great characters, and a strong and interesting presentation of Christian living.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member karriethelibrarian
This story just gets better and better.
LibraryThing member Maydacat
In this fourth book of the Mitford series, the townspeople are in the midst of a mayoral election, an unscrupulous realtor is trying to buy up businesses, and Father Tim has announced his retirement. In other words, everyday life is fraught with trials, but through strength given from above, the
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good people of Mitford persevere through the tribulations. For an entertaining tale with endearing characters, this series is sure to be a favorite.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
One of the best parts of this novel is the change that occurs in the relationship between Dooley and Father Tim. Seeing Dooley pull away and then circle back and open his heart is a rewarding journey. I also enjoyed the on-going battle for mayor and indeed the town. I liked that Father Tim's
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patience won out.
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LibraryThing member jlapac
I like the series, but I thought this one had just just a bit too much religion in it. It got in the way of the story. I have not minded the religion that the author includes in her story, because it fit into the story. She went overboard on this one. I still like the characters and the story,
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though I didn't think the H. Tide issue was ever satisfactorily resolved.
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LibraryThing member seoulful
A continuation of the wonderful Mitford series. We watch the continued growth of Dooley and the painful gathering and healing of his unfortunate family; we witness the abject despair and rebirth of Buck; we enjoy Cynthia writing another Violet book; some old friends depart this earth and then comes
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a magical Christmas Eve with Dooley's first experience in driving a car, snow falling and an unusual foursome of men driving around Mitford to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
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LibraryThing member Tanya-D
Book jacket synopsis: * Father Tim, the Episcopal rector, and his talented and vivacious wife, Cynthia, are pondering the murky uncertainties of retirement. They're also trying to locate the4 scattered siblings of Dooley Barlowe, the mountain boy they love as their own. A brash new mayoral
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candidate is calling for aggressive development, and a tough survivor must hunker down for the fight of her life. Worse, the Sweet Stuff Bakery may be closing, and a suspicious real estate agent is trying to turn the beloved house on the hill into a spa. Can change be coming to Mitford? The buzz on Main Street says yes. Change is certainly coming to the tenderest regions of several townspeople's lives. A woman struggles every day to stay on course after years of hard living. A man tries to forgive himself for a tragic mistake. And the town's most eligible bachelor leaves Mitford- and returns with a stunning surprise.*

This is the 4th book in the Mitford series by Jan Karon. I have found that I really enjoy these books. They are easy reads and the characters are slightly eccentric with everyday problems and I find them lovable. I also find myself wondering what will happen next in their lives. Father Tim always has a prayer and the complete faith that everything will work out the way it is supposed to, for good or ill. I love his blind faith and these books always leave me with higher spirits and a sense of faith and trust in life.
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LibraryThing member judyg54
In this delightful story about the town of Mitford and the folks who live there, you will deal with Father Tim turning 64 and announcing his upcoming retirement. Then there will be a Mayoral election race that gives the long-term mayor a real run for her money. There are also a lot of interesting
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real estate deals going on around town. As someone said in the back of the book; "Readers new and old will be reassured that the uncommon delight of life in Mitford lives on".

Once again I enjoyed my visit to Mitford. The town really is starting to grow on me. This is a story that you feel good about reading, where people have their quirks, but you grow to love them as they are. And I never fail to laugh out loud at least once while reading each story.
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LibraryThing member NadineC.Keels
The Episcopal rector in Mitford, Father Tim, is no huge fan of change. So he isn't keen on a new mayoral candidate making a big noise about improving the small town—through change. Plus, all of the new, sudden, out-of-town offers to buy up Mitford properties don't look too safe either. And the
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prospect of retirement is starting to stare Timothy down his sixty-something throat in Out to Canaan by author Jan Karon.

Here I've gone for another visit to a comfy locale that never sleeps (though it's sort of in bed by eleven) in this fourth novel in The Mitford Years series. Here I've had another jaunt that's given me a new bundle of surprises along the way.

I thought to myself as I read this one, "Karon truly has a gift." A novel like this could be so totally corny and thoroughly predictable, but this isn't. It's hilarious here, tender there, romantic without being sappy, and delightful without everything being quick and easy and perfect for the characters.

Yes, Mitford has its share of small-town quirks and quirky folks, but the stuff happening to these people is real-life stuff. I had laughs, I had tears, and moments when I had to pause and let certain events sink in.

Gee. It's one of my favorite novels of the series so far.
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
In the fourth book in the Mitford series, Cynthia and Dooley are no longer primary characters. The protagonist is decidedly Father Tim Kavanaugh, his wife and adopted son joining dozens of other Mitford citizens as the people in the community who fill his life. There is no single, driving plot
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through the book. Like life in the small town of Mitford, it is a casual, meandering stroll up and down the aisles of many story lines, no one of which stands out as a main focus. This is not a drawback in this book, although for me it did make it take longer to read, because without a propelling plot line, it was an easy book to put down, even though I was enjoying reading it. So a book I would normally read in four or five days ended up taking two weeks. I enjoyed the stories and characters immensely; just didn't ever feel like I just had to find out what happened next before I put the book down for the night.
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LibraryThing member m.belljackson
Drawings thankfully show Father Timothy without double chins!

Despite near-miraculous conversions, the plot moves forward pleasantly and with more humor.

Garden descriptions are inspiring.

Still a mystery: why not hire people to move heavy furniture in house?
LibraryThing member foggidawn
In this book Fr. Tim announces his impending retirement, the whole town is up in arms over a hotly contested mayoral race, and the vestry of Lord's Chapel must decide what to do with a grand but decaying old home left to the church as a legacy. This book has the feeling of an ending, though there
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are still several books to go in the series. After this book, the series moves in slightly different directions, although it keeps the same gentle tone. As with the other books, I'd recommend this to readers who have enjoyed the series so far.
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LibraryThing member Jean_Sexton
Mitford is one of my favorite fictional places, and I was glad to return in Out to Canaan. Perhaps it is because I have done the retirement thing twice before and unretired both times that this book resonated with me. Perhaps it is because I have known these people, or their doppelgangers, and
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remember them fondly. Perhaps it is because of the faith that permeates the book. I loved it.

Start at the beginning of the series. Keep on going. It is highly recommended for people who enjoy wholesome fiction.
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