Like Leila, I’m in something of a reading slump, or in my case listening, as none of the several audiobooks I read on my commute seem to be doing it for me. The new Anna Pigeon mystery reminds me of why I gave up on Nevada Barr years ago (lurid and incoherent); Elizabeth and Mary is repetitive and overfond of the first queen at the expense of the second; the new Dennis Lehane is too hairy-chested; and those New Yorkers pile up as readily on my iPod as they do on the bathroom scales.
Let’s just say I’ve been in a mood. But what hand of Providence brought me to download At Home in Mitford, the first of Jan Karon’s novels about the mild-mannered Episcopalian Father Tim and his flock in a cozy Blue Ridge Mountains hamlet? Oh my goodness (as F.T. might say) I am loving it. And the hero has already made me a better person. Last night I came home to see Richard folding the t-shirts I had left in the dryer last weekend. To cover my own embarrassment at falling down on the job, my left-handed Scorpio instinct was to say something caustic about it being high time someone got around to the laundry but I thought, what would Father Tim do?, and instead said “I’m sorry I left the t-shirts in the dryer.”
The pleasure of the book is its comfortable, steady-paced, dullness–right now, Father Tim is trying to settle on the menu for a dinner party he wants to have for his friends. He’s just gone jogging for the first time. His irrepressible (by Mitford standards) dog Barnabas will only sit when Father Tim orates Scripture. The village vet and his wife, in their middle age, are expecting a baby. I am completely engrossed. Martha says if I like this sort of thing I should try Miss Read’s books, too.
I’ve been editing a lot of Guide and Magazine book reviews this week, and the contrast to my new reading crush could not be greater. Once you get above chapter book level, it seems like almost all new fiction for kids is (or wants to be) thrilling, exciting, harum-scarum, suspenseful, non-stop, etc. Don’t kids ever read to relax?