Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon, read by Scott Sowers
In the first Father Tim book, our dear retired Anglican priest goes back to his home town in Mississippi and faces some of the demons from his earlier life. We already know from the Mitford books that Father Tim’s relationship with his father was problematic, at best. Father Tim had never been back since the death of his mother, effectively ditching all the relationships which were established in his youth. One by one he searches out the people whose influence had molded his life.
I loved the cadences of Timothy Cavanaugh’s conversations with strangers and with old friends. Karon captured the charm, the contrariness and the cheesiness of her Southern clerks, old ladies and ground hog hunters.
Father Tim comes face to face with two women with the same first name; both women wronged Tim in some way; both women faced a similar life-shaking situation. I found one encounter satisfying, but the other left me hollow. I guess that is because one woman acknowledged her wrong and asked, point blank, for forgiveness while the other dropped a bombshell with precious little explanation, then proceeded to ask for more sacrifice on Tim’s part. The breach in their former relationship was glossed over. Even as I continue to ponder, I see huge differences in the two women’s circumstances; perhaps silence was the wisest and most discreet response for the second woman.
Life is complex; things don’t always happen in the clean and tidy way of our dreams. Which leads me to my last critique. Karon cleaned up all of Father Tim’s loose ends in a way I found facile and unbelievable. I wish she had left some dangling threads. It’s too neat ending felt formulaic.
Scott Sower’s performance reading this book is two notches above excellent. His reading rivals Sissy Spacek’s reading of To Kill a Mockingbird for the best audio book I’ve heard. For its flaws, it is still a lovely, lovely book. My youngest son is part Samwise Gamgee, part Jeeves, and part Father Tim. I love the Father Tim in him, because I simply love Father Tim. In a year or two (when prices have dropped) I’ll pick up Home to Holly Springs in print and read through it. I anticipate listening to it more than once.
If your library carries this, I highly recommend it. If you enjoy fiction about clerics, check out Anthony Trollope’s Barset Chronicles, begininning with The Warden.