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The village of Mitford is soothing tonic for a readership that feels starved for community and yearns for clear morals. The recently married Father Tim and his plain-folk neighbors live the best of Christianity in everyday life. Even the rampant gossip in Mitford is the good kind: folks worrying about other folks and everyone minding one another's business out of concern rather than malice. As a result, no one faces a crisis alone. Often the crises are cause for a belly laugh, such as the rectory's new computer system that seems programmed to torment. But just as often the crises have the bite of real-life problems, such as the bloody young girl in shredded clothes, whom Father Tim finds after she was beaten by her drunken father, and the soul-wrenching despair Father Tim feels when he loses a surrogate mother. The heavily quoted scripture gives a day-to-day context for biblical teachings as well as spiritual solace during the sadder days at Mitford. --Gail HudsonAbout the Author:
Jan Karon was born in Lenoir, North Carolina, in 1937 ("A great year for the Packard automobile," she says). Her creative skills first came alive when her family moved to a farm. "On the farm there is time to muse and dream," she says. "I am endlessly grateful I was reared in the country. As a young girl I couldn't wait to get off that farm, to go to Hollywood or New York. But living in those confined, bucolic circumstances was one of the best things that ever happened to me."
Jan knew that she wanted to be a writer, and even wrote a novel at the age of ten. Her first real opportunity as a writer came at age eighteen when she took a job as a receptionist at an ad agency. She kept leaving her writing on her boss's desk until he noticed her ability. Soon she was launched on a forty-year career in advertising. She won assignments in New York and San Francisco, numerous awards, and finally an executive position with a national agency.
Recently she left advertising to write books, and moved to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, a tiny town of 1,800 perched at 5,000 feet in the Blue Ridge mountains. "I immediately responded to the culture of village life," says Jan. "And I must say the people welcomed me. I have never felt so at home."
Blowing Rock is the model for Mitford, and the similarities are strong. "None of the people in Mitford are actually based upon anyone in Blowing Rock," says Jan. "Yet, the spirit of my characters is found throughout this real-life village. You can walk into Sonny's Grill in Blowing Rock and find the same kind of guys who hang around Mitford's Main Street Grill."
Jan is quick to assert that there are Mitfords all over the country, those hundreds of towns where readers of Jan's books cherish their own cast of eccentric and beloved characters. Currently, one of Jan's chief delights is getting to meet those readers. "Some people finish writing and open a bottle of scotch or a box of chocolates," she says. "My reward is meeting my readers face-to-face. I think an author is something like a glorified bartender. My readers tell me all kinds of things about their lives, and I get these long, long letters. I answer every one, of course."
Jan has a daughter, Candace Freeland, who is a photojournalist and musician.
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