Book Review: Home to Holly Springs

holly-springs_.jpgJan Karon’s Home to Holly Springs is the first in a new series involving Father Tim. It’s distinct from the Mitford series because it takes place primarily out of Mitford and Father Tim and his immediate family are the only characters, so far, continuing on in the series, though others are referred to occasionally.

In this book Father Tim receives an unsigned note in the mail with only two words: “Come Home.” It is from the town he grew up in, and he has enough curiosity and time in his schedule that he can drive there to spend a few days. There follows the trepidation of facing some of the painful memories of his past, particularly in connection with the harshness of his father, meeting old friends, visiting the old home place and the cemetery where his folks are buried, not to mention finding out who sent the cryptic note and what momentous news they have to share. It’s a journey that, though painful, I imagine many people would like to take to find resolution and closure.

All of Karon’s charm from the Mitford series is displayed in full in this new book.

I did have a couple of disappointments with the book, though. One was the use of some coarse language. I don’t remember this being a part of the earlier books, though it may have been and I have just forgotten. It is the type of thing you might hear as a Christian in the everyday world interacting with non-Christians, but, still, I don’t believe it was necessary to the story and I regret its presence.

Secondly, in the flashbacks we become aware of some of Father Tim’s youthful indiscretions. Of course we wouldn’t expect him to be as a child or teen-ager the man he was in later life, and none of us is perfect, but I was disappointed in the kinds of indiscretions the author had him experiencing, especially a very serious one in his teens. Perhaps the author had in mind to show that one can be forgiven from and recover from the sins of youth, which is certainly true.

The third initial disappointment was resolved later in the book. When in a flashback a young Timothy is being questioned by his priest and is asked about how to become a child of God, his answer is baptism. This was disappointing to me because the way of salvation as being by grace through faith and not of works was very clearly demonstrated in the earlier books. But later on Father Tim explains to someone else that it wasn’t until he was an adult and after he had been a priest for many years that he knew what it was to truly believe and to have truly been changed, and it is much more clear there.

If you liked the Mitford series, I am sure you will like this new one even without some of the characters from Mitford. It’s every bit as heart-warming.

November Christian Book Fair at Chrysalis

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10 thoughts on “Book Review: Home to Holly Springs

  1. This is a wonderful reveiw! I’ve read two in the Mitford series. Your disappointments about this book seem well-founded, however worth a read anyway. Thanks for linking up with the November Book Fair. You get the “most prolific reader” award! Blessings, e-Mom:~D

  2. I read this one earlier this week. I enjoyed it. I thought she had more meat in this one although some of the memories had been in her earlier books, she elaborated more. I don’t remember the coarse language now but I’m sure I noted it at the time.
    We live near Holly Springs so I was pleased to read some of its history.

  3. This book was wonderful. I have read it twice and will read it again, I am sure. I loved the history that formed Tim in to who he has become. There are joy, laughter and tears in this book…just what you would expect!

  4. My goodness it has been such a long time since anyone has written, I hope someone visits the sight to answer my question…..I have the the Mitford Series and have purchased and read, “Return to Holly Springs.” Does anybody know if or when Jan Karon will publish the second in this series?

  5. I listened to all of the Mitford Series on tape and I am so disapointed that John McDonough is not the narrator. It is just not the same. John gave each character their own voice and personality. He made them come alive. The narrator on “Home to Holly Springs” is almost boring and I just can’t get into it. Well back to reading for myself.

  6. I am just finishing this book. I absolutely loved it. Some of the disappointments mentioned earlier I can understand, however they reflect what happens in real life. You know all of us had to come from something. Sometimes things are not always pleasant but they help form who we ultimately become. We know that life can hand you lemons, but through the help of the Almighty we learn how to make lemonade. I think Ms. Karon did a fine job with this book.

  7. This is the first Karon book I have read, thinking it would be best to start with this one before reading the Mitford series.

    I was seriously disappointed in the stereotypes reiterated in this book. The overall plot and its subplots were predictable, and tired. Coming from the South, I never experienced any of these things. But the usual plantation, racism, master impregnating the “slave” woman, sibling needed for a bone marrow transplant, etc. all are overworked like a B movie.

    I had high hopes for a Christian book but those hopes were dashed in this book. I am truly sorry to enter this review.

    I will still try one of the Mitford books, hoping to have my high expectations met or at least more nearly met.

  8. Pingback: The Mitford Books | Stray Thoughts

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