At Home in Mitford (Mitford Years, #1)
When I want something cozy, sweet, optimistic, and full of faith and love, I turn to the Mitford series. The 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 church...it'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. Despite my own issues with Christianity, uiMitford is a place that I enjoy visiting again and again.