cover image IN THIS MOUNTAIN


Jan Karon, . . Viking, $25.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03104-7

Fans of Mitford, N.C., will rejoice over this anticipated full-length seventh installment in the bestselling series, especially those disappointed with its shorter, rather lightweight predecessor, A Common Life. Although this offering is permeated with Karon's trademark charm, the plot isn't all sweetness and light. Three years have passed since Father Tim Kavanagh and his wife, Cynthia, returned to Mitford from Whitecap Island, and depression and discontent are gnawing away at the good cleric as he faces the big "7-0." As Cynthia's career reaches new heights, Father Tim makes some personal decisions that lead to tragedy. But never fear—although Karon strikes some somber notes, she avoids becoming heavy-handed. Devoted readers will find the same appealing characters and enchanting writing that originally won them to the series. Edith Mallory is up to her old tricks, plotting her seduction of Father Tim, and haircut wars are fought between barber Joe Ivey and stylist Fancy Skinner. Convicted jewel thief George Gaynor returns to the series after his release from jail; something new is cooking down at the Main Street Grill; and Dooley Barlowe learns the ropes of romance even as he agonizes over a search that may turn up his lost father and brothers. Karon more fully fleshes out two of the series' minor characters, Hélène Pringle and Hope Winchester, and introduces newcomer Millie Tipton, a wise-cracking Methodist preacher who fits comfortably into town life. Homespun dialogue, fresh and lively descriptions, laugh-out-loud moments and poignant scenes mark the heartfelt book, which is a happy reunion for Mitford devotees. (May 27)

Forecast:With more than 10 million Mitford novels in print and with the most recent title, A Common Life, dominating bestseller lists last year, the success of this installment is a no-brainer. A month before publication, it had already ventured into's top 50. Break out the orange marmalade cake.