I once prayed, Lord, please let Jan Karon live long enough to get Dooley and Lace married. The answer to that prayer was a whelming flood; I started crying on page 32 and sniffed and sobbed my way—punctuated by laughs—to the final page. Redemption, benediction, healing, holy amazement, connection. Reading this brings the satisfaction of resolution, the “two bits” after the “shave and a haircut”.
Weddings are my thing. Joyful solemnity, giving, sharing, joining, celebrating, laughing, crying, hugging, singing, dancing, rejoicing, thanksgiving. I love a good wedding and I’ve been to a few profoundly remarkable ones.
There was joy in the air; you could sniff it as plain as new-cut hay.
The focus of Come Rain or Come Shineis on the month before and the day of The Big Knot. Dooley and Lace want a small, intimate ceremony at Meadowgate Farm. Karon enjoys poking fun at the myth of a ‘simple country wedding.’ There are obstacles and annoyances. There are secrets and surprises. There is the unrelenting pressure of diminishing time to get the place wedding-ready.
The main character is Lace Harper. Her journals reveal her heart, her hopes, her fears, her loves. She wants to find a wedding dress for under $100; she is thankful for the callouses which document her hard work. She wants to get it—this whole starting a new family—right. I appreciated the ways Dooley and Lace honor the memory of Sadie Baxter (benefactor) and Russell Jacks (Dooley’s grandpa) in their wedding. Fun stuff: there is a Pinterest page for Lace Harper’s wedding!
Jan Karon and Wendell Berry are both skilled at portraying a community where giving, helping, and reciprocating are the norm. In their novels they don’t cover up the hurts, the anger, the tensions, the troubles. Weddings can be awkward with family drama. Karon handles the presence of Dooley’s birth mom, Pauline Leeper, in the same room as his siblings with utmost care. There is no easy resolution, no instant reconciliation, just baby steps, tiny beginnings towards the on-ramp to healing.
I connected with this book in many ways. This summer we went to a small, simple country wedding (see picture above) in a pasture. My son and daughter-in-law have a wind storm and fallen trees in their wedding story, too. I know what it is to be gob-smacked by blessings, reduced to silent tears of joy. Live music is the best for dancing the night away. I love the song in the title.
‘Why can’t life always be lived under the stars,’ she said, ‘with great music and family and friends?’
♪♫♪ Come Rain or Come Shine ♪♫♪ is a standard (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics Johnny Mercer) that has been covered by scores of recording artists. I used it ten years ago when I made a PowerPoint slideshow for Curt’s folks’ 50th wedding anniversary. In the course of my work, I listened to B.B. King and Eric Clapton on endless repetition. And I can honestly say, I never tired of it. But there are so many recordings of this song, that I put my listening of them in this post.
I finished it last night. I started it again this morning.
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I’ve *just* started cleaning out my email inbox after returning very late last night from our two week trip. CRoCS should be in my held mail to be delivered on Monday. Therefore, I’m averting my curious eyes from this post (and the other one I see is about the book). Such a struggle, but I don’t want to treat myself to a spoiler of any kind! During our trip, I met a woman and her husband from Chicago who is a prolific reader. We were able to manage a few short book talks together which I hope to blog about sometime soon. We were sharing favorite books, and she mentioned Jan Karon. She did not know about the newest one and was so anxious to get home and get it. Can’t wait for this new Karon treat!
Sounds like a good one. I have got to read this author’s whole series. I’ve only caught a book or two.
Dear Carol, It was finally my turn in the queue today at the library for Come Rain or Come Shine and I thought of you. So far I have cried, laughed, sighed, cried more and I am just on Chapter 3. I knew from your review that it would be good, make that great and it is! Hope things are going well in your family and life and that you have a wonder-filled Christmas….hard for me to believe that tomorrow will be Dec. 1st. love and prayers, jep
Late response, but I’m glad to hear your responses. Wouldn’t it be fun to have time across a table to talk about it? 🙂
Oh my, YES!