Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: Home to Holly Springs

Title Home to Holly Springs, Father Tim Novel #1
Author Jan Karon
Genre Commercial Fiction
Category Religious Fiction
Rating C+

Summary Father Tim Kavanaugh receives an enigmatic note urging him to, "Come Home." So Father Tim returns to Holly Springs, after a 38-year absence, and starts to investigate the strings that have been pulling him back to the place of his birth. (This is a spin-off from Karon's wildly successful Mitford Christian Fiction series.)

Review I enjoyed this book more than I expected to when it was selected by my book club. I hadn't read anything in the Mitford series, and don't routinely read Christian fiction, but I was able to pick this up and read without too much being lost. The hardest hurdle to overcome was the dialect. Set in the South, Karon writes the dialogue the way it would sound to the ear.

The other thing that made this book hard to read is that it was, in a word, boring. Karon used a combination of flashbacks and present-day happenenings to tell the story. For the first half of the story the present-day happenings were boring (because there wasn't much happening), and the flashbacks in the second half were bad, in my opinion, because they slowed the pacing of the story just as it was climaxing.

Another issue I had with the climax was related to the characters. I don't know it it's because Tim Kavanaugh is a minister, but his reaction to the events that unfolded in the climax were unbelievable. How Father Tim could hear the news about his past, his family and not have a stronger reaction, not have any anger, was really far-fetched. I get that he's a man of the cloth, but he didn't even really struggle.

None the less, other characters were interesting. Most notably, Father Tim's wife. It makes me want to go back and read the Mitford books that deal with their courtship. I also enjoyed reading about young Timmy Kavanaugh and his mother (and trying to unravel the truth about Tim's dad).

Recommendation Fans of Karon's other books will enjoy this new series.

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