From Publishers Weekly
Karon's bestselling series of Mitford novels has concluded with 25 million copies sold to date, but to the relief of eager fans, she introduces a new series featuring Father Tim. The beloved Episcopal priest returns to his childhood town of Holly Springs, Miss., where he reconnects with old friends and battles some old demons. The novel is thick with Father Tim's past, as Karon uses flashbacks to shed light on his early adulthood, especially his transition to seminary. In Holly Springs, his penchant for getting near strangers to open up to him—and his earnest, moving reflections on faith, prayer and the risks of love—are reassuringly present. His wife, Cynthia, is on stage far less than he, but when she appears, she is charming and insightful, as usual. Yet the book is far from perfect. Development of the quirky locals in Holly Springs is thin, and the end is a tad abrupt. Most frustratingly, the central drama of the novel falls flat: Father Tim discovers a long-buried family secret, but he doesn't grapple deeply enough with the emotional consequences of his discovery, nor does Karon fully explore the ways in which the secret plunges us into the Southern quagmire of race. Still, Mitford fans will enjoy this newest visit with wise, winsome, lovable Father Tim. (Oct. 30)
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Far from Mitford and his beloved wife Cynthia, Father Tim Kavanagh enters unfamiliar emotional territory in the town of his birth.
When he receives a letter postmarked Holly Springs, Miss., that contains a cryptic two-word message written in a precise, old-fashioned hand, Father Tim decides to answer its call and return to his birthplace for the first time in 38 years. On the long drive, he faces unanswered questions and half-forgotten memories: What happened to his boyhood chum and blood brother, Tommy? What caused his father's melancholy that bordered on cruelty? What happened to Peggy, the adored black caregiver who disappeared when he was 11? Who is trying to contact him, and why? As Father Tim awaits the letter writer, he is showered by blessings: He finds that his hometown has been beautifully restored, and he makes peace with an old flame. When the summons comes, it brings both joy and betrayal. He is reunited with his beloved Peggy, only to learn a terrible secret: She was carrying his father's child when she disappeared. When Peggy reveals that Henry, her son and Tim's half-brother, has leukemia and can only survive with a transfusion from a compatible sibling, Tim has to struggle to reach the decision he knows is right. In this setting away from home, we see Father Tim in a new light as he wrestles with his past and explores the origins of his religious convictions. The saga veers into magical theater as Karon (Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Comes to Stay, 2006, etc.) ties up every loose end in Tim's past. But readers who miss Mitford's colorful eccentrics will be satisfied by Holly Springs's ample supply of quirky characters.
Karon's deft interweaving of past and present infuses the Mitford saga with new energy.