cover image Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good

Jan Karon. Putnam, $27.95 (528p) ISBN 978-0-399-16744-7

Fans of the Mitford novels, rejoice: Father Tim Kavanagh is back in town, after sojourns to Mississippi and Ireland with his wife Cynthia. Father Tim is wrestling with the existential challenge of retirement and siren calls of various duties. He settles on filling in part-time at the bookstore while owner Hope Murphy is on bed rest during her imperiled pregnancy. A host of subplots are braided together, from the rebellion of Sammy, little brother of Tim's adopted son Dooley, to the romantic prospects of Fancy Skinner's sister Shirlene, new in town. It's a wonderful stew of small town characters, who will confuse new readers and those with bad memories, and details, some of which are funny and some of which need more milking. The ending, which takes place at Christmas, is too emotionally prepackaged and drags out a long book. Fans should debate whether Father Tim has to cry as much as he does, but like him, they will welcome the return to Mitford with its quirky citizens. Agent: Liz Darhansoff, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Oct.)